I had a yard sale last Saturday. I spent a week getting everything together, cleaning it off, pricing it, and getting the word out. Come Saturday, I put everything out and put up the signs.
I sold exactly one thing, made 50 cents (which wasn’t even mine because the sole thing I sold was something of my dad’s), and got a sunburn.
As I was packing everything away feeling like a failure, I realized that this yard sale attempt was a lot like my self-publishing venture.
I put a lot of work into my little book of short stories. I edited them, formatted them (several different times depending on the requirements of the place I was publishing it at), designed the cover. I did my best to make it look as professional as possible. I put the word out.
And I’ve made about 10 bucks all told.
My biggest failure in both of these ventures was promotion. I didn’t have the money to take out an ad in the paper or pay for the marketing services offered by Lulu. Instead, I relied on word of mouth and social networking. Which is fine. My reach is a bit limited, but it’s still a reach. I have to hope that the people I tell then tell other people who tell other people and the people being told come to my sale or check out my little book.
And that’s the problem with a limited reach. The people I tell don’t necessarily tell anyone else. They don’t always look at the book or even care about the sale. And the same can be said of the people they tell if they do bother to tell them.
Relying so much on other people when dealing with something as subjective as books or yard sales seems to be a recipe for failure on my part. I’m not a natural salesman and I don’t have a huge fanbase. I’m putting my success into the hands of people that don’t have anything invested in it. In fact, a few of those people probably would prefer that I fail.
It’s a frustrating thing for me as there are times when I’d really like to be in total control of everything to put so much in the hands of other people. But then, I’m also very good at sabotaging myself for various reasons and in various ways, too.
I tend to work myself into no-win situations. Like the yard sale, my self-publishing excursion was pretty much doomed as soon as I got the idea.
When you’re only as good as your reach, I’ve got short arms.