by Randi Perrin
Publishing is one of the strangest businesses I’ve ever worked in—and I’ve worked in quite a few. I mean, come on, I was the lone girl working at the auto parts store while I was in college, and I loved it. Sure, I got a lot of crap for being a female in that environment, but that’s part of why I enjoyed it. It was a constant challenge.
Publishing is like that. It’s a constant challenge. Just like how I had to prove myself to misogynistic customers sometimes, I’m constantly having to prove myself in publishing—to publishers, to myself, to my readers. If you’re not up for that challenge, then you’ll never survive.
First, let’s look at the good.
The people: Until I got into publishing, I never met quite so many people who were just like me. Those who had an almost debilitating fear of letting someone else read their words. The ones who I can say, “I’m on nine different government watch lists because of my search history” and they get it. These are my people and I love them. I couldn’t imagine my life without several of my writer friends in it. In fact, I celebrate the successes of my tribe members more than my own. I’m proud of everything they accomplish and I will forever be their loudest cheerleader because these are my people.
The pride: There’s an amazing sense of pride and accomplishment when I look at that shelf of books with my name on them. It’s just, wow. In 2017, when I was at the RT convention, I had a woman come to my table and ask for my book: “Earthbound Angels book one, please.” Y’all, she asked for it by series name. The girl, whose name was Rachel—I will never forget her, knew who I was, she knew my book, she even knew the series name, which was admittedly in tiny, thin white font on the cover that you could miss if you weren’t looking. That just blew my mind. My books were out there enough that she hunted me down in a room full of hundreds of authors to request a book and autograph from me.
Being an author and seeing my titles available on Amazon, it’s mind-blowing. To have someone tell me a book is so good that they couldn’t put it down until they finished it, it’s so thrilling. I know what I write isn’t for everyone—not everyone can handle my sarcasm—but the fact that there are people who do connect with it. I never thought that would ever happen.
Now that you think I have a huge ego, allow me to share some of the crazy lows that come with being in this industry.
Marketing: Marketing a book is so hard. What works for one genre, won’t necessarily work for another. What works for one author, won’t work for another. Heck, what works for one book in a series may not work for the rest of the series. Psychologically, people need to see your book three different times in three different ways before they will be intrigued enough to click on your book to learn more, and even more to convert that click into a buy. Figuring out how to do that is hard, and it’s constantly evolving. Reviews: Amazon did an amazing thing by allowing a new avenue to publishing. In doing so, they also cultivated an environment where we had to live and die by the reviews. The number of reviews we have determines our book’s visibility, our ability to get picked up by BookBub, and a whole host of other things. Rumor has it if you hit a special number of reviews, you get a free unicorn. I’m personally holding out hope for that.
The problem with being driven by reviews as we are, our friends are tired of us asking for them after they read our books. Hell, readers are too. There are people who have taken this whole review thing too far and opted to cheat the system to get those review numbers up. (No unicorn for them!) Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung the other way and now Amazon sometimes deletes valid book reviews in their attempt to thwart those who aren’t doing this fairly. Who does it hurt? Everyone else.
The burnout: This is one I’ve suffered from, I’m quite open about it, because I don’t want anyone to drive themselves into the ground the way I did. I thought I had to keep up with other authors—because that’s what all the “experts” said. You must put out a new release every month to stay relevant. In 2016 I released one novel, a novella, and was a part of an anthology. In 2017, I put out two novels, two novellas, and was a part of three different anthologies. It was so much. I was constantly in a state of writing, editing, and promoting for the better part of two years and I finally just had to throw my hands up and walk away. I took a good year or so off to just re-learn how to be me and to help find the balance of how I could be in this industry.
The tolerable: In the end, it’s all tolerable. Really. I’m not going to bite the hand that feeds me. I’ve been blessed to be a part of this community and having whatever marginal success I’ve had. I just had to learn how to embrace the good and use it to help weather the bad.