Do You Believe in You?

Do I believe in myself? Do I believe in my writing? These are questions I’ve been contemplating for a while. I’ve made a few investments in my dreams, but most of the risks I’ve taken have been carefully calculated. I’ve weighed every expenditure and for the most part, I’ve hardly spent any money on my books that I’m not fairly certain I can recoup.

Maybe I’ve been working in accounting for so long, I can’t stop viewing my writing career from a strictly businesslike standpoint. Or maybe I just don’t believe in myself enough. To be honest, I think it’s a little of both.

For example, I know authors who spend thousands of dollars on each book before it’s ever published. Some expenditures are unavoidable, such as editors and book covers. But some authors go the extra mile, hiring publicists and personal assistants to handle their marketing and social media needs. They invest in bookmarks, postcards, and a variety of bling. They plan online launch parties and give away $50 gift cards and swag-packs as an incentive for readers to spread the word about their new book. And after publication, they continue to spend on blog tours and advertisements.

Before anyone blasts me in the comment section, I’m not judging the authors who do this. If I could afford it, I might do the same. I wonder if some of these authors can truly afford their expenditures, though. I wonder if they have the extra money, or if they just have something I don’t have – confidence. Maybe some of these authors believe in themselves so much that they are willing to take a risk and give their book an extra boost. Maybe my problem is that I’ve put my books into the “hobby” category. I’m willing to invest the time, but not the money.

How many of you are willing to invest in your dream? Whether you’re an author or not, everyone has a passion. How many of you are willing to make that passion a top priority?

Authors: Do you hire publicists and tour hosts? How do you determine your marketing and promotional budget? In your opinion, how much is too much?


33 thoughts on “Do You Believe in You?

  1. I can speak to this as one who spent nothing to get both my poetry book and short story collection out there. That said, I wound up making both free because I have ptsd and could not figure out how to do the tax forms on host sites. I don’t think I did that because I don’t believe in myself; rather, it was just necessary if I wanted them out there at all. My own life as a writer is fraught with doubt in many ways, not just about my writing, it’s a mobile doubt that moves with me from task to task. Am I a good enough friend? Partner? Human being? Did I give everything I do my very best? Here is where the nagging doubt is silenced because yes, I gave it my best, yes I did. I can’t do better than my best and neither can you, Tricia. What I know and have seen of you is lovely. If we lived closer together I am sure we would be very good friends. In all I see of you, you give everything your best and that is more than enough in my book of life. ❤️❤️❤️

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  2. I absolutely believe in my writing, and I’m willing to invest in it. But that said, I think it would be unwise to *not* look at it as a business… because it is. You can throw your money out the window if you want, and see absolutely no return on it. Or you can spend wisely, work your way up, and actually see a gain in both sales and readers. So far, I’ve made back more than I’ve spent… but it’s going to be a long time before I make back anything like minimum wage on all the hours I’ve put into it. Not to mention the bits and pieces of my soul– whatever that’s worth.

    Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that there are oodles of people out there preying on desperate authors, offering all kinds of “services”. And the only service a lot of them provide is lining their own pockets. So you have to be smart and do your research before investing in anything.

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    1. I lost money on my writing the first year, but made up for it last year. Unfortunately, I have to be careful with money. As for time, I don’t regret a single moment I’ve invested in my work. It’s totally worth it!

      You are correct about the author services out there who make a living off writers’ hopes and dreams. Authors should always do their research before handing over their hard-earned money.

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      1. I’m totally with you on the time aspect. I would still be writing if no one ever read it, let alone bought it. But just putting things in perspective when it comes to making money.

        I got my first decent payout and we bought a new couch (totally frivolous, but it’s it’s my *author couch*, lol), which is like… whoa. A new couch. Pretty good, right? But then when you consider that E has been out for a year now…. It took that year (and two more books out). Then, no, a couch is not a great wage. I can’t live off it, anyway. And ultimately that’s the goal– at least for now. To be able to focus on my writing and make a living (read: provide for my family) doing it.

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  3. Great article. But perhaps it is a lack of confidence that drives authors to spend money on publicists. Or something else entirely. I for one did spend money. Wisely, I hope. For the first book in my series (Guarded), I’ve spent more money than I will on my subsequent books, because the rest of the series will forever stand on the first Book’s shoulders. I got some magnetic bookmarks and post-its, both items that I hope will keep my name in their memories. The bulk of my swag goes to beta readers and early reviewers as a thank you.

    My first book, Divide and Conquer, had very little promotion, and was largely overlooked. I can’t imagine Guarded will sell much better, but I’d hate to see another book swallowed by the black hole of competition without fanfare. Especially THIS book. This isn’t about confidence (of which I have little), but about my love for the book. Guarded means a lot to me. It divides readers’ opinions, but to me, it is special.

    I won’t make my money back and I will be more frugal in the future, but I don’t regret my indulgence. Even if reviewers should hate it. 🙂

    And yet, my indulgence has limits. I tried to do as much promo as I could myself. It takes time, but can be rewarding. And two books in, I finally understand that the most important promo method is penning my next book. No amount of money can replace the worth of a new novel. That thought helps me limit my spending. 🙂

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    1. Divide and Conquer is an incredible book, I highly recommend it to everyone!

      I invested in quite a bit of bling with my first book. I bought a little with the second and third. My other books don’t even have a bookmark. I like what you said about using swag as a thank you to reviewers and betas. I don’t think swag does much in terms of sales unless you’re doing book signings and on site events.

      And you’re absolutely right! The best promotion is writing more books.

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      1. Thank you. 🙂

        I have to admit the toughest thing for a new writer is the wait. This “momentum” that everyone keeps talking about seems so elusive. Will things start to pay off after book two, after book four, after your tenth novel? You try to hurry things along, so you pay for a blog tour. Sure, it costs money, and sucks up a lot of your time, but there must be a way to make sure that when people type your name into Google, they actually get you, the author, and not her, the porn star (I wish I were kidding).

        Yes, writing is therapeutic and I’d never give it up, but I also never thought my work amounted to much. I never even submitted my work to agents, that’s how little confidence I had. Then an editor plucked me from obscurity and I got a taste, not of greatness, but of the idea of being a middling author who has the privilege to share her work. But no one is interested, because for various reasons you are unable to promote book no. 1. And those biased reviews that Amazon is so worried about? Friends don’t bother reviewing anything, and parents are hardly aware your book even exists. If they care that little, why would readers feel any differently?

        So the temptation to pour cash into the next book is overwhelming. Even though you know it won’t make any difference (because you’ve done your research). Even though you can hardly afford it.

        That’s where my mind is a month before my second book is due out. I kind of wish I weren’t bothered by these things. Wish I could just go back to obscurity and do my thing in peace. But somehow that’s not an option.

        Thank you everyone here for sharing your experiences, most of all you, Tricia. It’s actually been encouraging that some of you awesome people did get this elusive “momentum” without selling your house and the shirt on your back. 🙂

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  4. I’ve spent money on my projects and haven’t been able to do anything more than declare a loss on my taxes. It’s a slow build, and I’m sure more funds would create more sales, but things aren’t equal. Spend $50 on a blog tour to gain five sales. That kind of thing. Readers who enjoy my product have returned for new products and I didn’t have to spend a cent for those sales. Eventually I should reach a tipping point.

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    1. It takes a while to build momentum. Part of my problem (besides lack of money to invest in blog tours) is laziness. I get caught up with other things – work, kids, writing, etc – that any buzz I’ve built fizzles before it ever really begins. I think you have a very good approach to book promotion.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the post, Tricia. It got me thinking. My passion is my definitely my priority. I write full time and live simply in order to do it. Therefore I don’t have wads of cash to throw at advertising or hiring a publicist (I laugh as I write that word). My journey is slow and steady, the result of my own efforts. I’m certain I haven’t broken even yet, but every year gets a little better. What works for me is to keep my focus on what I love, glorying in the creative process and producing something that didn’t exist before. I spend money on it like I would on anything else I enjoy. I trust that if I put my heart into the “means,” the end will come and be just fine.

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    1. I don’t have wads of cash either, but I think I’ll start putting some of my royalties into marketing. Like you said, every year is a little better. I hope I’ll eventually build momentum. Best thing to do is keep writing.

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  6. I don’t think I have spent any money on my book. Maybe I should. I just love to write. It is such therapy for me. Perhaps I should do more to market my book, but I think I would feel kind of silly hiring a publicist. The most I have done to promote it, is write on my blog. I love my book, it has so many good messages, but if it is up to me to promote it, I am afraid it may stay where it is in the rankings on Amazon. Great post!!!!

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    1. Thanks, SD. I would feel silly hiring a publicist too, especially with my income, but maybe one day. As long as you enjoy writing, you shouldn’t feel pressured to promote. You can’t put a price tag on the therapeutic properties of writing!

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  7. I have my doubts, I must admit, about my ability as a writer. However, underneath, there lies an unbreakable belife that my writing is good. Unfortunately I don’t have the funds to spare in paying for promotion, and the times I have invested a little money have been wasted. This doesn’t stop me from trying free outlets, such as social media. You are a fantastic writer, Tricia, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your work. 😀

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  8. I believe in my work, if not in myself. I invest in my work as a business. Really, a few thousand dollars on editing, cover art, and formatting isn’t a huge expense for starting a small business when you compare it to most. That felt like a huge risk on my first book, but I’m glad I spent the money to put my best, most professional work out there the first time. I haven’t spent a lot on marketing at all, though. One Bookbub ad was my single biggest expense, at around $300 for the category I wanted (it paid for itself, and far more if you factor in sales on the next book). I don’t want to invest in blog tours, marketing, etc. until the trilogy is finished, though. For now I’ve got my blog (pretty quiet while I focus on home life and “real’ writing) and a few social media things, but most sales are from either being visible on Amazon or from reader word-of-mouth promotion.

    I have nothing against authors who spend big bucks on that right out of the gate, but I can’t justify the expense yet.

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    1. Like you, I can’t justify spending big bucks. Lately, I haven’t spent ANY bucks on marketing. I wonder if I’m cheating myself by not making small, calculated investments in terms of advertising and marketing. I’m glad you pointed out the business aspect of writing. Paying for formatting, editing, and book covers is an investment in your business. These are relatively inexpensive start up costs in comparison to other businesses.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Perhaps I’m not a “proper writer” because although I’m prepared to spend a year writing and crafting a novel, I’m not willing to spend an obscene amount to to promote it. I’ll do the usual social media work but unless I can see at least four times my outlay in returns, (unlikely in the extreme) I’d rather just begin another book.

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  10. My grand total of expenditures this year is less than 50$ – and it’s more than I’ve ever spent before. not because I wouldn’t love to spend thousands but I just don’t have it to spend. Then there’s the face-to-face advertising, like going into bookstores and getting them to sell my book – sorry, I’m too cowardly for that one, too. I like to do an occasional email list (like ereadernewstoday) for 25$ and walk away. I’ve done blog tours with every release (except the last one) – two of said tours I paid for – and I sold more of this latest book without the tour than I did the other books with the tour. Another commenter mentioned 50$ for five sales – and that’s what the tours seem to be to me. A lot of money and time – I don’t know how many hours I spent crafting all those articles – for almost no return, when I could have been writing instead. The same goes for blog posts in general, or 90% of the other things people say we need to do to advertise. I’ve been taking a hard look and most of them are time – or money sucks – that yield few results. (I actually just blogged about this on Self Pubbed Authors).
    All that aside, I also have a bit of a hobbyist attitude myself towards my work. (that’s another story) and I lack confidence, but I think in the end we ALL do that – almost every author I’ve talked to REALLY worries about their book. They may pretend not to, they may say “this is awesome” but inside they’re trembling bunnies, just like we are. They just pretend better than we do 😉

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    1. I wish I had the courage to walk into book stores and ask them to carry my book. I’ve never been a very confident person and I envy those who can shout loud and proud about their books. I really wish I could do that.

      Yes, you’re right. A lot of the things the experts tell us to do don’t really sell books. We end up running ourselves ragged trying to be everywhere at once, promoting and marketing our little socks off.

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  11. Excellent post, Tricia, and excellent questions. It’s tricky. Like you I think, I’ve always lacked self-confidence and am always plagued by self doubt. I think that’s just a natural insecurity for writers like us and for any creative person. As for expenditure. Yes, it’s a big question. I guess I’ve seen both sides of the fence. I see and know of some authors who plough thousands into their books and sometimes in some very odd ways which to me, just don’t make sense either creatively or in business terms. I certainly could never afford a publicist, PR or marketing specialist. When I was earning a higher salary than I do now, when my first book came out, I went wild at Vistaprint and bought everything – linen bags, keyrings, mugs, T-shirts, baseball caps, banners of various sizes, posters, you name it! Lol, it was stupid, naïve and just a waste of money tbh, Although the book sold very well, I as the author on the poor contract terms I was on at the time with my awful ex-publishers, never recouped that money. But I was overtaken by enthusiasm and the whole excitement surrounding a new book. But, I did learn some lessons. I learnt what makes good commercial sense and what is simply a waste. Second time around, I got the banner & stand for book signings which I do use and business cards. I need to get bookmarks too, but that really will be it. T-shirts, mugs, caps, keyrings etc., just aren’t necessary and can end up looking a bit tacky and desperate. Do they sell books? Not really. Business cards are the only real essentials, a way of easily swapping and sharing your details with others, a way of publicising your book that costs very little. If done well, they really can be a great accompaniment to your book. At the end of the day, I would love to be in a financial position to spend more on each book, but you do need to balance that against the cost of living too, so by all means spend on your book, invest in your dreams, but don’t make yourself bankrupt in the process! 😀

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    1. I love Vistaprint. With my first book, I did spend a few dollars at Vistaprint. I’d love to do that again. For a long time, I couldn’t spend money without cutting into our family budget. Now that I’m getting some royalty payments, I need to use that money to invest back into the “business” of writing. I agree with you about business cards being essential. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of those right now. I think that’s something I definitely need to invest in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s tricky isn’t it sweetie? Yes personal finances and family must always come first, and it is very hard and guilt-laden spending money on writing if that means taking it away from family. Lol, we just need to win the lottery you and I! 😀

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