I’m no Beyoncé…

Photo: entertainmentwise.com

Photo: entertainmentwise.com

Isn’t it amazing how this lovely lady can drop an album without advertising for it at all and sell millions?! Well, any indie author knows it doesn’t quite work like that for us. So, here’s my update on being indie, using a pen name and marketing.

Deciding to use a pen name was just as difficult as deciding to go indie. Both are tremendously risky. Here’s some of the problems I’ve come across so far.

Problem 1: I’m a newbie so building a platform is hard.  

No one would every guess that I minored in marketing. I’m so bad at it—really. I don’t like selling stuff, something about it feels insincere to me (It’s not. I’m just weird about consumerism. I can’t even sit through commercials because I don’t want to be persuaded into buying something). I like being on social media sites to connect with others, but when it comes to marketing my book, I’m timid. I just don’t want to come across as annoying. And this is me projecting my anti-consumerism, because I often find mass-advertising annoying. Honestly, my husband has done more to market my book than I have at this point. I’ve contacted 20 friends who I thought would like my book. Some of the responses from my friends were funny. They were excited but many of them didn’t even know I’d written a novel– proof that my marketing skills need help. 🙂

What I’m going to do:

On to building a platform, still working on this, but I’m starting with ResLife. I’ve gotten the most positive feedback there because I think many RAs can relate to my story. Then on to book bloggers!

Problem 2: I don’t have any other works so I didn’t have a following for my writing.

Ok, I may have been a little ambitious, a novel being my first attempt at creative writing. So I hadn’t been blogging and gaining followers daily like other writers. But putting out a novel under a pen name that’s only existed for about five months hardly creates credibility. Reading a book by an unknown person is a risk that many readers are not willing to take.

How this happened:

I literally just had an idea and started writing—mostly for myself (It saved me from my post-pardon depression insomnia madness). And then, with two little babies, any free time I had was dedicated to working on my novel.

Problem 3: And this is major– readers don’t know what I look like.

I knew this would be a huge downside of my decision. People connect with pictures, especially pictures of other people. I’m guilty. I see a cool, friendly looking photo of a blogger and next thing I know I’m checking out their page. Marketing myself and while keeping my identity hush-hush…is difficult.

Why I did this:

My legal name already has an online presence and I wanted my writing endeavors to have a separate identity. Mostly because I’m not trying to sell myself as an author but I’m trying to sell a story, highlight the ResLife culture, and expose the truth. Also, I mentor college students and I want them to feel as comfortable as possible talking to me about their life. A lot of times they tell me extremely personal stuff—the kind of things they don’t want anyone to know about. So for me, it just felt safer to use a pen name. That way, no one would assume I’m writing about the students I work with. And if I choose to discuss a topic they bring up, they’d be protected.

On the upside, using a pen name is freeing, it hasn’t interfered with my job or personal life.  This pen name is a brand but I’m not. I can write in a different genre without losing my readers in this one. Harry Potter fans kind  of prove  that readers these days are more loyal to characters they love verse the author. Also, being anonymous creates a little mystery. I like that sometimes. With so many people online these days, the anon can sometimes stand out. There’s an anonymous literary agent on twitter and it’s created such a buzz. This anon even has other agents wondering about their identity.

So whether you choose to hide your identity or not these are just some of the things I’ve experienced. 🙂


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