As a creative person, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. You put out your art, in whatever form, that then gets judged by those who see it. Sometimes, a creative is flooded with praise and glory. More often than not, however, the work is unseen or doesn’t generate the buzz/income the artist hoped for.
Such was the case for me and my last release, Girl on Fire. While it was an Amazon Best Seller for a few weeks, had some amazing reviews, and climbed some small category charts, ultimately, it didn’t perform as well as I (or I would assume my publisher) had hoped.
I got my first look at my royalty statement last week from the publisher, and I will admit, I felt a bit of my creative soul crack. Surely, that number couldn’t be right. Could it? It had to be a typo. And then the crushing blow of realizing the book you thought would finally break through the noise turns into dust leaving you staring in disbelief at a wall. After ten years of writing, was it finally time to throw in the towel? (Melodramatic, I know.)
It was a grim day, my friends.
I mourned. I cried. I licked my wounds. And then…
I cracked my knuckles and opened my laptop to work on my next book. Because if Tick, Tick… Boom! taught me anything, is that the one thing a writer needs to do in the face of a disappointment is to: write the next one.
So, that is my advice to you as well. When faced with a disappointing creative blow, stand up, dust yourself off, and try again. Because ultimately, isn’t a failure just the first attempt in learning? We learn by doing, not by stopping. And I for one, am not done learning. Or writing.
Have you ever wondered what the easiest way to support your favorite indie artist is? Whether they are an author, a musician, artist, or whatever? Obviously, BUYING their work from a non-pirated location, is a logical answer, but I’d wager there is something just as important as the financial piece (but please do keep buying their work because artists need to eat to keep making the art. Vicious cycle.) So, just what is that thing you can do to help support your favorite artist? Provide them with validation.
Let me explain what I mean. If you have ever devoured a book by an indie author or jammed out to an awesome song from a local band or gazed in awe at a piece of art by a virtual ‘unknown,’ the easiest thing you can do to support that artist (apart from BUYING their work) is to TELL THEM how much you liked their art.
You mean you want me to stroke their egos? Well, it’s more than that. Artists, by nature, tend to be a quiet group. We work mostly in solitude with just the creative juices running through our heads. We work in a bubble of ourselves with limited input from the outside world. Which provides ample opportunity for doubt to grow. We second-guess. We berate our work. We feel like failures. We’re raw nerves exposed to the elements when we put something new out for consumption. And a balm that can soothe all of those things? When you validate our work by telling us how it touched you, moved you, or inspired you. It tells us that the time we spent making the art MATTERED. That what we worked so hard at creating reached its audience.
Your validation confirms that our vision was seen, felt, absorbed.
And here’s the best part. That validation motivates us to keep making more art. Even if those sales don’t come in. Even if we struggle to find the motivation to work on the next project. It’s that VALIDATION from those few who made the effort to reach out and let the artist know that their art MATTERS that pushes us to keep going in the face of doubt. And trust me, there is plenty of that to go around.
For instance, fresh off the heels of what was a very successful release of Girl on Fire last month, I was feeling a bit low. Even with the title hitting a #1 New Release and becoming a Best Seller for its category (far outperforming any of my other 15 titles) I felt as though I’d failed somehow. In October, my numbers started to drop off, as sales tend to after a release. Suddenly, the success of the month prior didn’t seem to matter. All I could see was that the numbers were going downward. Just like my head space. Not a good for a creative.
Then, I went to a local shop in my hometown for an author signing. I was there with two other Maine authors. They both write Maine historical fiction, and here I was, the odd duck in the corner of a coastal shop with romance books. We couldn’t have been more opposite. Surely no one would even glance my way. Impostor syndrome was setting in hard.
Ironically, we all sold equally well that day. Some readers were looking for historical fiction, others, were drawn in by my unique covers. But the best part of that afternoon was spending two hours chatting with Irene M. Drago, Kate Hotchkiss. We talked about writing, our marketing strategies, our books, and about publishing in general. There was great comfort in knowing you aren’t alone writing into a void. That others are there too. That the doubt and the stresses you face are the same for us all.
Kate and I ended up exchanged paperbacks at the end of the event. Her book (On Harbor’s Edge) is on the top of my very much neglected TBR pile. I really need to stop telling myself I will have energy to read at night and won’t fall asleep the second I get into bed.
To my great delight, Kate messaged me late last night to tell me she’d started and finished Girl on Fire. I held my breath. If you’ve read the book, then you know how this book can be triggering. Would my writing be too out there for this historical fiction writer? Would she be appalled at what she’d read? For the record, the most terrifying thing you can say to an author is “So, I read your book.” GULP.
Fortunately, Kate loved it. She thought it would make an excellent movie (a thought echoed by my publishing house. Hint, hint, universe.) She even suggested Brad Pitt should play Brad. I had a good laugh at that one. Not sure he’d take on playing such a twisted character. In fact, I would pity any actor who accepted the role of Brad. It would NOT be an easy part to play. Then again, speaking as an actor myself, those are the roles we love to sink our teeth into. The ones most unlike ourselves.
To make a long story short (too late,) Kate’s gesture of reaching out to tell me that not only had she read the book, but that she had loved it was just the thing I needed to hear to get me out of that headspace of self-doubt. That worry all creatives face: Does anyone even care about the work I put out?
Yesterday, I got that affirmation. Which means today, when I sit down to write, I am writing with the knowledge that YES, my work matters. Yes, readers appreciate the craft I provide. YES, I need to write more. Validation matters to creatives.
But, Danielle, how am I supposed to contact them if I don’t know them?
A quick Google search will likely find you at least one avenue to find your favorite indie artist. Then, reach out via email, social media, heck even snail mail can work. (Here’s where you can reach me: CONTACT ME)
If a direct contact approach isn’t for you, simply mention the work that moved you in a post on whatever social media you are on. Gush to your friends about how their art hit you. Lend them the book, encourage them listen to the song, or show them the art. Connect the world to the art that you love. That word of mouth is something an artist can’t generate on their own, and it really is liquid gold.
For indie books, an easy way to validate work is to leave a review, because let’s face it, we ALL look to see how many reviews something has before we buy something. Especially if it is from an unknown. And trust me, the authors read those reviews. They help let us know if we’re on the right track or not. It’s part of our homework. Even reading the bad ones.
After a CRAZY journey, Girl on Fire, a book that started as an ember is now burning up the charts. (I can’t help myself with the puns!)
Now, does this mean I’m suddenly rich? Well, no. The book is currently priced at .99 cents (publisher sets the price.) It’s a strategy. Books at that price you can get more ad space for, and visibility is important especially with an unknown like me. The price will eventually go up, but until that point, that .99 cents breaks down to about .34 cents after distributing sites like Amazon, etc. take their cut. THEN, of that .34 cents the publisher takes THEIR cut, and I get the pennies left after that. So, no. Not rich. YET. 😉 BUT, the book is doing what it should be doing. Climbing the charts in their categories, and more importantly to me, the overall rank in the whole of Amazon.
For a point of reference, this is where Girl on Fire was on 8-25-21. A few weeks before release day.
Ironically, the book was doing better as a pre-order than I’d done for a normal release. That made me feel encouraged.
Then, on 9-3-21, a few days before release, I woke up to my first ever orange banner for a paid book. (Pulled once made it to number #3 when I ran a promotion on it but at that time, the book was free so I didn’t make any money on it.) It was #1 New Release. At that point though, my overall rank was like 700,000. I forgot to snag the data. So, a mini victory and a first to me!
Then release day came. I started the morning at an overall rank that I was pretty happy with. Way lower than my normal releases.
9-7-21 5:00 AM Overall #604,141 and a rank of #150 #320 and #6,851 for subcategories.
Again, huge numbers for me. I am not a huge author in the ocean of names. YET. Throughout the day, the rank shifted downward. By the time I went to bed this is where it stood.
9-7-21 9:00 PM Overall #44,13 and a rank of #7 #11 and #13 for subcategories.
HOLY CRAP! That’s a HUGE jump.
Granted, the categories are a small ones, but again, it’s that overall rank that I’m focused on.
Fast forward to this morning. Two days after release. I woke at 4 am. (My internal clock hates me.) But when I saw this, I almost spit out my coffee.
Now, again, small category and compared to big name authors, this ain’t nothing special. But for this underdog, it’s dream come true numbers.
The success of this book rests largely on my publishing house, City Owl Press, who, from day one believed in this book. Believed in me. They saw the potential. They invested the time and their marketing dollars to get these numbers.
Fire was my only companion. A burning light in a world otherwise filled with darkness. A life of pain and abuse I never thought I’d escape.
I’m still not convinced I have.
When friendly Santa-figure turned trucker, Al, finds me at a rest stop and offers me a job at his idyllic farm in small-town Nebraska, the picturesque family life is more than I could hope for.
And his youngest son, Kyle, is a dream romance that I don’t deserve.
But no dream lasts. As a new nightmare begins, I’m back where I started. Captive. Abandoned. Alone. And staring into the flames.
Except this time the embers are dying, and when the monster in the dark enslaves my soul, no one will stoke me back to life.
Content Warning: This book contains instances of abuse that might be troubling to some readers.
Well what can I say this book was cleverly written. Athriller with a hint of romance as well as having some very difficult and sensitive subjects written about. This book was written with such delicacy, sensitivity and care a very good job done by Danielle Bannister.
This book surprised me. While I read mysteries and thrillers all the time, this one took me by surprise. It had so much detail that I just kept wanting to read more until I finished it. Danielle Bannister really did it with this one. This was absolutely an amazing read! Can’t wait for more!
I loved this one. Very fast paced, had me turning pages as I tore through it – I had to see how it would end. The characters were well rounded and the narrative felt believable. Gave me chills. Solid five
While the official release date for Girl on Fire 9-7-21 for distribution places like Amazon, Apple, Smashwords, etc., there is ONE platform where you can read it NOW. And that is from my publisher directly. They offer up their releases early on their site before letting them out wide on other platforms. So, if you’re itching to read Girl on Fire and don’t want to wait until 9-7-21, you can get your copy at City Owl Press.
If you want to hear the story of how Girl on Fire came to be, you can watch me talk about how the story started as an ember, and then burst into flame below.
Want to get it on your preferred platform? You can pre-order it from the sites below!
Welp! It’s that time… time to put out the request for Advanced Review Copy readers. For those unfamiliar with the term, an Advance Review Copy is a digital copy of the book that will be sent directly to your email (via Bookfunnel) for FREE in exchange for your honest review of the book on or near release day.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can apply to be on the team by filling out this super short form. It will give you more details of the book as well to help you decide if Girl on Fire is for you.