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Book Chic
09-28-2015, 07:56 AM
Greetings Fellow Writers,

I'd like to offer you my size 8 1/2's and hear other perspectives on a subject I've been weighing for quite some time. I've asked some of you to walk a mile in my shoes eons ago. But I'm here again, ready to make a final decision on this. So here goes.

What would you do if...

...your first YA Book sold 12,000 copies. Your second YA - barely sold 4,000. After six years in print, you're still receiving royalties - under $150.00, and you're not that great at promoting yourself. In the meantime, you've decided to work on an adult book, to take your mind off of the flailing YA situation. But every single time you say to yourself, "I no longer want to obsess over my YA Amazon rankings, no longer want to worry about my YA life" - you receive a random email from a fan who loves your work, or a librarian who wants you to give a talk (for free). In other words, you appreciate the sporadic love and attention from your readers, but you want to move on and make real money.

So basically, my main question is: Would you totally give up on what's not yielding fruitful fruit; or would you keep hope alive and keep trying to promote two books that just aren't reaching a mainstream audience?

All blunt thoughts would be greatly appreciated! *Bracing self*

guttersquid
09-28-2015, 08:03 AM
Why do you have to choose? Promote your old book if you want and work on the new one at the same time.

Osulagh
09-28-2015, 08:15 AM
So... because your second book didn't sell as good as your first, you're giving up writing in that genre?

Are you self-published? Or trade published?

Are these sale real sales, meaning you received money for each of them? If not, what part of them were free?

Are these books in a series? It's quite typical for the sequential books to not sell as well and the first selling the most.

What do you mean "real money" in terms of genre? And what do you mean "mainstream audience"?


If I was you, I'd write another book. In whatever genre, but YA would probably benefit the most since you have an audience already in it. Promote as much as you wish, but if you blame your lack of sales on your lack of promoting then I think you've already got an solution to your problem.

RightHoJeeves
09-28-2015, 10:17 AM
So basically, my main question is: Would you totally give up on what's not yielding fruitful fruit; or would you keep hope alive and keep trying to promote two books that just aren't reaching a mainstream audience?


Surely the simple answer is to just keep writing? You're more likely to get new readers through putting out new work than further promoting the first two (I would think).

slhuang
09-28-2015, 11:20 AM
It's been six years since you've released a book, you only have two out total, and you're glum about your numbers? This sounds like a problem without a problem to me. As in, I'd expect anybody's numbers to be glum six years after two books, irrespective of how well the second book did.

Write the next thing. The best way to promote an old thing is to release a new thing. Write something new, as both something new and as promotion for your old things.

Bolero
09-28-2015, 04:47 PM
Going to give talks is an opportunity to promote whatever comes next too.

Your original YA readers are now old enough to read your (new) adult output - may be pleased to see something new from you that they can still relate to.

PeteMC
09-28-2015, 05:05 PM
My really blunt thought (sorry, you did ask!) is "what the hell have you been doing for the last six years?"

12,000 sales of a debut is bloody good going, I'm amazed you haven't been putting out at least a title a year after that. Still, as you haven't, now's the time to get on with it. Any new release (especially if it's another YA) should raise interest in your backlist as well.

If you want to write an adult book this time, then go ahead and do that. Why not write another YA book as well? Just write!

Book Chic
09-28-2015, 08:19 PM
All of your responses are greatly appreciated! I guess my question shows that it's all about the "attitude." I am with a traditional house (a big six). And yes, the second book was a sequel. Since no editor is beating down my door for the next, and my sequel didn't do well, I kinda would like to forget about my YA books completely. Sounds like I'm attending my own pity party, but I put so much work into those books and frankly, though grateful, I'm disappointed, and would like to completely move on. (This is the perspective that I'm torn about.)

What I didn't mention is that I pitched three additional ideas to my former agent - all of which didn't work for him. What I didn't know is that he no longer considered me to be his client after the three failed pitches. All is amicable, but this news came as a blow! No "see ya later" paperwork was requested to be signed. So all along, I thought he was still in my corner. However, I owe him a lot for my start and he is a major player in the game.

I just completed a self-published novella. Same challenge of marketing. So if anything, I'd like other aspiring writers to take a look at me and learn. If you're not a great marketer and you don't have the budget to do so, either hope for sheer luck, or reconsider if you want to make a career out of this.

Writing is not for the faint of heart. There are only a lucky few. So you really have to believe wholeheartedly in YOU...

Filigree
09-28-2015, 11:12 PM
Write another book and get another agent. You have the right track record for it.

Book Chic
09-29-2015, 04:49 AM
Thanks Filigree. I appreciate the vote of confidence. And to all others, thanks again.

Quick question - would you happen to know if anyone here ever wrote a self-published ebook (short story) featuring a character from their traditionally published novel in order to drum up interest? Is this legal?

RedWombat
09-29-2015, 06:21 AM
It is absolutely legal (barring cases where one is writing a tie-in novel or something like that.) That said, I don't think it'll help much, as in my experience, short stories rarely drive a lot of novel traffic, but it's not unusual or weird.

If you've already got the short story, you don't lose by it, but I also wouldn't expect it to drum up a lot of interest. The market for short stories is limited and rather peculiar.

Roxxsmom
09-29-2015, 06:34 AM
Greetings Fellow Writers,

I'd like to offer you my size 8 1/2's and hear other perspectives on a subject I've been weighing for quite some time. I've asked some of you to walk a mile in my shoes eons ago. But I'm here again, ready to make a final decision on this. So here goes.

What would you do if...

...your first YA Book sold 12,000 copies. Your second YA - barely sold 4,000. After six years in print, you're still receiving royalties - under $150.00, and you're not that great at promoting yourself.

There's so much information I'd need to make a decision here. Was there a third book? If so, were the sales even lower there? Was book #2 a sequel or did it have new characters? How long between book #1 and book #2. How long does it typically take you to write books? Were they both with the same press? What kind of promotion did your publisher offer? What does your agent think?


In the meantime, you've decided to work on an adult book, to take your mind off of the flailing YA situation. But every single time you say to yourself, "I no longer want to obsess over my YA Amazon rankings, no longer want to worry about my YA life" - you receive a random email from a fan who loves your work, or a librarian who wants you to give a talk (for free). In other words, you appreciate the sporadic love and attention from your readers, but you want to move on and make real money.
I don't think there's any way to answer your questions about knowing what might have been different between YA novel #1 and #2. Was book #1 better written, or about a topic that's more interesting to YA audiences? Were there a significant change in marketing strategy and promotion between the two? Could cover design or the book blurb be a factor? Do you right about something that was faddish 6 years back but has declined in appeal since? Has there been a change or decline in the YA market in the past 6 years?

I'd ask myself whether I wanted to write adult books, as in, do I have adult novel ideas I'm at least as excited about as my YA books? I'll also ask why you're assuming adult novels will sell better. Is there some kind of pattern you've been analyzing that suggests that, given the rate you write at, adult books are more likely to sell well? Or are the kinds of topics you like covering in your novels more appealing to adult audiences overall?

Osulagh
09-29-2015, 06:46 AM
Is this legal?

It's only legal if you hold the rights to the original work. Otherwise you're writing something like fan-fiction and that cannot be published without the owner's expressed consent.

As with your predicament, it really sounds like your agent either gave up on you (if he hasn't tried to help you out other than asking for more stories). Perhaps finding another will turn you down better avenues, and since you have a positive publishing record you're not starting at the bottom.


I just completed a self-published novella. Same challenge of marketing. So if anything, I'd like other aspiring writers to take a look at me and learn. If you're not a great marketer and you don't have the budget to do so, either hope for sheer luck, or reconsider if you want to make a career out of this.

Writing is not for the faint of heart. There are only a lucky few. So you really have to believe wholeheartedly in YOU...

Sorry, but this is seriously bad advice. Marketing your own work is crucial as a self-published author. No one is born a great marketer, nor a great writer; we learn. Just because you're not good right now, doesn't mean you'll always be bad. Just because you're in this predicament doesn't mean others will be. There's a ton of information about how to market yourself and your work, and to do it freely, in the Self-publishing subforum here at AW.

And publishing isn't for the faint of heart. Write how much you ever wish, you won't have a single problem if it's never revealed to the world. When it is then revealed and you try to make money from it, then you can encounter problems and hardships.

Roxxsmom
09-29-2015, 06:55 AM
I just saw the follow up with the bit about your agent abandoning you. I didn't think this was the usual thing to do, but that sounds like one more thing we all have to hash out if we ever get agents--what would make you "fire" me as a client?

I'd concur with the others--keep writing things that excite you and try to get a new agent. Did your old agent give you a reason he thought your new ideas or books weren't what he wanted? Were these books you'd actually written, and he read the manuscript, or were they just ideas you had?

Consider that it's possible that he didn't think they were for him, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't attract a different agent (again, it might depend on the reasons this agent didn't want to rep them).

Jamesaritchie
09-29-2015, 05:23 PM
I'd be wondering how my sixth book was selling. Or how my tenth books was selling.

Some writes strike gold and get rich and famous with one book. This is not the norm. Most of us have to write a bushel basket full of books in order to build a backlist that keeps us in food, shelter, and clothing, plus a few luxuries.

It's about the writing, not about how you first, or second, or seventeenth novel is doing on Amazon.

I know everyone out there can't stop talking about self-promotion, but it isn't about promoting yourself, either. It simply isn't. You can promote the wrong book to death, and still have lousy sales, no matter how good you are at self-promotion. The right book, on the other side of the ledger, can sell a million copies with no more promotion than nearly every commercially published book receives from the publisher.

Success doesn't come from watching the rankings, and it doesn't come from self-promotion, or from publisher's promotion, or from reviews. It comes from writing a book that everyone wants to read, that a read can't wait to tell his friends about, and those friends can't wait to tell their friends about.

And no matter what anyone says, it's not about pitching ideas to your agent, either. If you're writing books you don't because your agent likes them, you're a complete failure, even if those books sell a million copies. Which they won't.

Never submit an idea to your agent. It is not an agent's job to like or dislike your ideas, or to tell you in any way, shape, or form which book to write. There's one reason to write a book, and that's because you love the idea, and really, rally want to write the book. I wonder what would have happened if J. K. Rowling had submitted the idea for Harry Potter to an agent? Or if Stephen King did the same with Carrie? Or if Stephanie Meyers did the same with Twilight? None of them did. They just wrote the books they really wanted to write. More accurately, they told the stories they most wanted to tell, and filled them with characters they really wanted to spend time with.

Most ideas suck, and approval always depends on the whim of an agent or editor. The agent's job, the agent's only job, should be to sell the book you want to write, not to say whether she does or doesn't like the idea. Screw what idea she does or does n like. Either you write what you most want to write, tell the story you most want to tell, and fill that story with characters you most want to spend time with, or you'll probably always be worried about Amazon rankings.

It's about the writing. It's about telling the story you want to tell, and it's about doing this day in and day out, year in and year out. It's writing, it's storytelling, not promoting. And it's certainly not asking an agent whether you should write a given book. There are always other agents, including a bunch who wouldn't dream of telling an write which book to write.

Buckle your seat belt and start writing. Those first two books don't even exist. Neither will the next one you write the moment you submit it. Just write early and often, forget about everything else, including self-promotion. It's all about the writing. Concentrate on this, on writing the book you want to write, on telling the story you want to tell, and everything else will take care of itself.

Book Chic
09-29-2015, 07:58 PM
You guys are so awesome. Always have been. Always will be.

I'm trying to be vague about specifics because I have this "small world" syndrome. But let's just put it this way...

My agent is from a top-notch literary agency. He asked for a synopsis and first chapter for each idea - which were all turned down. He's part of the reason why I felt that 12,000 copies sold isn't worthy. He told me so. It wasn't the strongest relationship from the start. But I made the mistake of being so grateful to be with a top agent, that I allowed myself to doubt my worth.

Frankly, as I've mentioned before, this is an attitude/perspective issue. A lot of disappointments have lead me to look at things in a less than positive light. Coming here, gives me that kick in the pants that I need. YOU understand the process. YOU can relate. When non-writers say, "Chin up" I can't really buy it. But a writer who has experienced the ups and downs has my respect and attention.

Once again, I really appreciate all of your insights. #Absoluterocks

Fuchsia Groan
10-02-2015, 08:39 AM
It sounds like you allowed the agent to shake your confidence. It is a bitter moment when someone who believed in you and supported your career seems to decide you aren't worthy after all. But remember, every agent is just reading the market as best they can with the aid of their own subjective lens. No one knows what you'll write next but you; no one can say for absolute sure that it won't succeed. There are no crystal balls. As long as you have ideas and can write them, you're still in the game.

I've heard of writers using a pen name to distance themselves from books that didn't do that well. But I don't know if that's necessary in your case. If you have some fans from your YA books, that's not something to cast aside lightly.

As for YA vs. adult, which do you really want to write? If the story you want to tell is adult, go for it. But I wouldn't switch just to switch. You could just as easily write a new YA book that was totally different from the previous ones. Reinventing yourself as a writer, experimenting with different tones and genres, can happen within any category. And it's fun! It sounds like the fun of writing, without worrying about stakes or sales, is what you need to rediscover.

RedWombat
10-04-2015, 06:22 PM
Buddy of mine is on her fifth agent. She is not awful, I swear, but she has godawful luck. The first one signed her because she was outstanding in another field he was very into, and eventually decided he didn't like her actual work. Second was excited about her older work and only wanted stuff like that, not anything she was working on now. Third retired unexpectedly. Fourth, at the same agency that inherited Third's client list, was totally overwhelmed and a bad fit. Current one seems to be working out.

Meanwhile, she's been doggedly writing, going to conventions, making contacts. She's sold two books herself, done multiple media tie-ins, been involved in many anthologies and collaborative world projects, edited a magazine and won multiple awards. If she ultimately is a blinding success, it will be owing to stubbornness, not to landing the one perfect agent for her.

Debeucci
10-04-2015, 09:02 PM
Never submit an idea to your agent. It is not an agent's job to like or dislike your ideas, or to tell you in any way, shape, or form which book to write. There's one reason to write a book, and that's because you love the idea, and really, rally want to write the book. I wonder what would have happened if J. K. Rowling had submitted the idea for Harry Potter to an agent? Or if Stephen King did the same with Carrie? Or if Stephanie Meyers did the same with Twilight? None of them did. They just wrote the books they really wanted to write. More accurately, they told the stories they most wanted to tell, and filled them with characters they really wanted to spend time with.

Most ideas suck, and approval always depends on the whim of an agent or editor. The agent's job, the agent's only job, should be to sell the book you want to write, not to say whether she does or doesn't like the idea. Screw what idea she does or does n like. Either you write what you most want to write, tell the story you most want to tell, and fill that story with characters you most want to spend time with, or you'll probably always be worried about Amazon rankings.


I consider this extremely poor advice. A good agent's job is guide a writer's career, including vetting ideas that he/she thinks will or won't sell. It 100% is the agent's job to like/dislike the idea because they're the one that has put their relationships with publishers on the line when they submit to them.

I will also add that promotion is an important aspect of a writer's career. Support from a publisher is important, but also form the author. That doesn't mean you need to go out there and hustle like how most self publishers do but you have to build a strong base that will move with you from book to book, series to series.

Also, to Bookchic, to be blunt, not every author is a career author. That's okay. Being a career writer, unless you hit it big, requires an author to continue working and producing. Not every writer has that in them to constantly produce at a regular basis. Pretending your previous books don't exist does not help at all. Own your past and your previous books. Just know that their success in the past isn't a reflection on you or your future works.

Book Chic
10-09-2015, 05:43 AM
So glad I came back to check in. Excellent advice. Awesome anecdotes!

Again, I don't want to get too personal, but it may help some of you to understand my angst by letting you know that I am in the job market and growing quite concerned. So the ebook idea was to help with pocket change - so far, no good. And the YA v. Adult question is really about making the most out of my time.

What I was trying to say earlier is that NO ONE should write for the money. The money should be a bonus. The act of writing should be your first and only love. If I had chosen a more stable career path, I wouldn't feel so pressured now.

I'd also like to go further with this thought about attitude and circumstance. I wonder if it's really how you look at life, overall. Or, is a persistent nature compartmentalized? For example, the writer who went through several agents - does she persevere in all aspects of life, or just when it comes to her writing career?

A kinda' sorta' related question: Can a huge bore in real-life be hilarious on paper?

Would love to know your thoughts on both! :)

andiwrite
10-09-2015, 09:36 AM
What I was trying to say earlier is that NO ONE should write for the money. The money should be a bonus. The act of writing should be your first and only love. If I had chosen a more stable career path, I wouldn't feel so pressured now.

I'd also like to go further with this thought about attitude and circumstance. I wonder if it's really how you look at life, overall. Or, is a persistent nature compartmentalized? For example, the writer who went through several agents - does she persevere in all aspects of life, or just when it comes to her writing career?

A kinda' sorta' related question: Can a huge bore in real-life be hilarious on paper?

Would love to know your thoughts on both! :)

I imagine people who can persevere in one area can persevere in many--if they wish to. My problem is that I care about very few things as much as I care about writing. Including making money, lol. Which I suppose is a good thing, considering the part of your post I bolded (which I agree strongly with).

What makes a person "a huge bore" is a matter of opinion. So is being hilarious. So I'd say yes, absolutely they can. :)

Btw, I don't consider selling 16K books a failure. Great job!

Undercover
10-09-2015, 04:29 PM
There are constant hurdles to overcome in writing. It's how far do you want to go with it? I think you're at level 85 (IMO). I would DIE to be at the level you're at. I think it's all about how you look at success. Some might think you're very successful right now and that you can only move forward if you continue writing. I think switching from YA to adult just to make money or be more successful is not a good way to think. I agree with the others, write what you want to write, regardless of what genre and category it is. If you're not passionate about it, most likely the reader won't be either.

Book Chic
10-09-2015, 05:11 PM
Thanks andiwrite! :)

Undercover - awww, you've got me feeling all kinds of special. :)

I'm learning that the key is to keep going, but to know when to stop if it's just not working for you.

Though I don't consider myself a failure, I must say that I did let my former agent get into my head. No grudges held, though. He helped give me my start.

Fuchsia Groan
10-10-2015, 08:40 AM
Fiction writing seems to me like a difficult thing to HAVE to make a living at unless you have a great instinct for commercial writing and enjoy producing it rapidly. Me, I don't have that unerring commercial instinct. I write what I love and aim for the place where it overlaps with the commercial, but I don't count on always finding that sweet spot, because my mind sometimes works in weird ways. So I feel more secure with a day job.

Even so, I feel pressure to produce the next marketable thing. And I dream of writing fulltime. Whichever path you choose, there will probably be anxieties, but don't let them kill your confidence in your writing, assuming you still have that passion to write.

Book Chic
10-14-2015, 09:42 AM
Fiction writing seems to me like a difficult thing to HAVE to make a living at unless you have a great instinct for commercial writing and enjoy producing it rapidly. Me, I don't have that unerring commercial instinct. I write what I love and aim for the place where it overlaps with the commercial, but I don't count on always finding that sweet spot, because my mind sometimes works in weird ways. So I feel more secure with a day job.

Even so, I feel pressure to produce the next marketable thing. And I dream of writing fulltime. Whichever path you choose, there will probably be anxieties, but don't let them kill your confidence in your writing, assuming you still have that passion to write.

Well said. Feels like I'm sparring in a boxing ring right now with this fiction flow. Just experienced another blow. The ebook tanked, stank...I just don't know what to do. So for now, I'll simply laugh my way...well, not to the bank, but I'm headed somewhere else.

LOL

Liosse de Velishaf
10-17-2015, 09:32 PM
It's interesting to see the competing perspectives on an agents job. I'm not a published writer, so take my opinion for whatever you think it's worth. I don't see anything wrong with your agent giving advice on what book idea to write if you happen to have a couple or three you're really into and you're trying to figure out which to do. Or maybe you're thinking about switching series or genres, and your agent thinks that's likely to result in less or more sales.

But from talking to people and hearing stories and thinking about what I'd want out of an agent/writer relationship, I tend to agree more with James. But perhaps the difference in opinion relates to personal experience? The only rule on being a top agent is selling popular stuff, so perhaps agents have different styles, and it depends on what kind of agent a writer first has success with? I'm sure there are plenty of writers who would love to be told what next book might do well for them and have the ideas and interest to target that book on the agent's say-so. But I don't think it's wrong to prefer another strategy, and I've heard tons of authors of all levels advocate for James's perspective.


If I were in BookChic's shoes, I'd want another agent rather than feeling like a failure. Sometimes, even with initial success, a relationship just doesn't work out.