What defines your success?
I work with author clients every day (for my company BadRedhead Media), many of whom have never released a book. Yet. My first question for them is this: what is your definition of success?
I’ve released two nonfiction books so far and cowrote another. My next book will be out by summer.
Both have become #1 Kindle bestsellers in Parenting and Families, Motherhood, Parenting and Relationships, Humor, Nonfiction, and most importantly, Mancode: Exposed (my second release) hit the Amazon Top 100 Paid within one month of release.
I’m incredibly grateful and to be honest, a little shocked when I look at that last paragraph. Because I’m still just me. The girl who was always scribbling away in her journals or with my nose in a book, unaware of all going on around me.
So how did I get here? Well, besides always having a desire to write a book since I was a kid, I started blogging after the birth of my second child, my son. When he was about three, I started writing to save my sanity. Mancode was born.
Fast forward a few years: I discovered this wonderful merging of social media and blogging. I may not be able to add x to y, or use a trapezoid for any reasons whatsoever in real life (take that Mr. Lokteff. Ha!), but social media is easy for me. Optimizing it and connecting with others comes easy to me. When people started asking for my blog in book format, I figured, why not?
Of course, there’s more to it than that.
I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I’d seen some poorly done books and knew I didn’t want that. Upon the advice of several knowledgeable folks who had already been through the process, I worked with professionals who helped me put together that first blog to book, A Walk In The Snark and I released it in January, 2011.
Was it a bestseller right away? No. Did I promote the hell out of it? Yes.
At the time, I’d cofounded the Indie Book Collective (with whom I’m no longer affiliated). Did lots of promotion. Worked with hundreds of authors doing lots of promotion. Interacted constantly with lots of different (thought targeted) people on social media. Researched social media science. Took what I knew about sales and marketing from my former life and merged it with what I learned about Amazon, social media, and self-publishing for my next book.
I released The Mancode: Exposed (all original material not from my blog) in late November, 2011. Embracing Amazon’s KDP Select helped immensely for me and within one month, Mancode hit Amazon’s overall Top 100 Paid.
I think the biggest misperception about self-publishing is we’re uneducated about the process, or we’re throwing something knowingly awful and hoping it sticks, just for the money.
I’m clearly not a dumb chick. I knew to work with professional folks who knew more than I did. I didn’t have a huge budget, but I saved and scrimped to invest in making the best product possible. I readily admit what I don’t know and pay (or trade) for the services of those who do.
As for throwing something up there just for the money, I’ve only made rent money once so far this year on my book sales. I think most writers will agree – we write because we love it. We can’t NOT write. Working with a crit group and professional editors insures I’m not putting out an inferior product. Because here’s the deal: readers are smart and quite vocal.
People either love or hate my books. The majority of book reviewers love them. Some reader reviewers hate them. I dig that – my books are not for everyone (good market research and demographics though).
The fact is, I will continue to pursue my writing and vision regardless. I know that what is inside me is worth putting down for readers because my definition of success is not based on how many books I sell or how much money I make, or how many likes or five-star reviews people give me.
My definition of success is experiencing the process of writing and creating books. I am so lucky to do this every day.
This is my success.
“I’m a chick who writes stuff that makes you laugh. My book A Walk In The Snark hit #1 on the Kindle Motherhood list this past September (do you think they know I talk about sex? Shhh.). It’s since hit about oh, SEVEN more times. #woot! I’ve been nominated for Funniest Blog, Best Humor Writer & Redhead Who Makes A Killer Dirty Martini (okay, I made the last one up, but it’s true. Honest.).
I released The Mancode: Exposed right after Thanksgiving 2011! Two books of snarky goodness, baby.
I’ve been told I write in the style of that Dickens guy. Kidding.
I’m a mom, a wife, and a recovering pharmaceuticals rep. It’s been a long process but I’m doing okay, thanks.
I also used to sell Trojan brand condoms. Yeah, it’s hilarious, I know. I did it for three years way back when, and I was their top salesperson in the Western Region, a dubious honor at best. My number-one customer was the Mustang Ranch. No, seriously. The Mustang Ranch. I couldn’t make stuff like that up.
The experience definitely gave me insights into the… er… ins and outs of men.
So it should come as no great surprise that I write about how men (The Mancode) and women (Chickspeak) approach most things differently. And since I did, in fact, grow past my Trojan days (in more ways than one or–insert your own joke here), I’ve thrown in a few tidbits about marriage, kids, being a mom, living in the OC (ya know-being a pale redhead living in a sea of blondes), coffee, and vodka. Not necessarily in that order, depending on the day.
Don’t read this book to find advice about how to be sweet or nice. I’m pretty much allergic to both of those words. Actually don’t read this book for advice on anything. (My lawyer made me put that in just in case you know, you thought I could save your marriage or something – not).
Or if you are looking for some light, heartfelt humor in everyday life (Erma Bombeck-style), well, I’m really not your girl, either. Nothin’ homespun about the Queen of Snark, baby. Mostly I just laugh at stuff and make up words (See “Refrigeratoritis and Manesia.”) Yet somehow it all seems to work.
And don’t call me cute. (Hint: Babies and puppies are cute. Grown women are soooo not.)
Special note to men: I write frequently about “The Mancode”–like how you guys do goofy stuff and we women try, and often fail, to understand. (Um, change the toilet paper roll much? Yeah, that’s what I thought.) If that offends your sensibilities, this may not be the book for you. Yeah, I’m crushed.
Like everyone, I’ve also had some rough times. I share those with you, too. Life can’t always be martinis and beaches. Wait, this is the OC (Orange County, CA, for those of you from Canada, or people on the East Coast who don’t know California beyond LA). Naw, not even here.
So, welcome to RachelintheOC.
Now go read an essay or two and find something to laugh at, would ya?
I have to go help my husband find the butter. Again.”
The Mancode: Exposed
- I’m over forty. I don’t have a blankie. I have vodka.
- I’m no ‘ologist.’ I don’t give advice. If that’s what you’re looking for, go buy Dr. Somebody’s book.
- I write about men, women, sex, & chocolate. My experiences, my truth, my martinis.
- *Note: Thompson employs hashtags (i.e., the # sign) in her work. Google it. These are not typos, people #deargod.
Praise for The Mancode: Exposed — already a #1 bestseller in Marriage, Parenting & Families AND Parenting & Relationships!
5/5 Star Reviews:
–As a long time warrior in the Battle of the Sexes, I would’ve won a lot more skirmishes had I had a copy of Mancode in my saddle. Reaching back toward my shotgun, I would’ve found this book. Instead of shooting the man, I could’ve said, “Stop acting like a man!” Buy Mancode and stop wasting bullets.
~ Beth Wareham, author Power of No
–Finally! A woman who gets what I’m going through every day, front hat whole spitting thing to my deep abiding love for chocolate. Well done!
~ Amber Scott, author of #1 Kindle bestsellers IRISH MOON, FIERCE DAWN, WANTED
–Mancode: Exposed is a scathingly funny, rapid fire and heartfelt looks at guys. Author Rachel Thompson delivers a satirical piece that invokes strong shades of Penny Marshall and Seth McFarlane.
~ Casey Ryan, Host & Creator, Cutting Room Floor radio program
MEN NEED ROUTINE
Men need routine. Everyone knows kids routine. That goes without saying. Plenty of studies on that. No, I’m talking about the big guys.
If my guy can’t be asleep by 9:30 p.m. each night, he’s Mr. Crankypants the next day. Granted, he’s up at 4:30 a.m. to deal with East Coast clients. But it kind of puts a dent in our social calendar. On the weekends. When he doesn’t have to be up early.
It even makes TV viewing difficult if the kids and I stay up late. Funny how he’ll listen to his shows so loud my mom up in Northern California can hear them but when we want to watch a show, I’ll get a text (yes, a text), ‘TURN IT DOWN,’ when it’s already so low we’re reading lips.
Men need routine.
I drink my coffee at home. I have Joey the Coffeemaker who greets me every morning with ‘How you doin’?’ What girl doesn’t want an Italian Stallion (okay, he’s invisible. What’s your point?) as she shuffles up in scary hair, morning tee and sweats? My guy, however, is constantly bugging me to get dressed (gasp!) and join him at Starbucks. Why on earth would I want to do that?
Doesn’t he know I’m a writer? Okay, so maybe I need a routine, too. But we’re talking about him. What is it about his insistence that we go to Starbucks?
‘I love the whole atmosphere-lots of noisy people, the music, the activity, the grinder, the interaction. It’s how I start my day, every day. Without it, I just can’t get going. Why can’t you understand this?’ he asks in frustration.
I know he loves me and wants us to spend kid-free time together. I get that. And I love him for it.
I also recoil in horror. Doesn’t he know I’m a writer?
‘Babe, I get your need for socialism. Okay, wait. Let me rephrase that,’ I say, looking for a smile. Nothing. Tough crowd. ‘You know I’m a social chick. I have my social times. But writing is not one of them. If I wanted to be social, I would have picked a different profession, like math or something. Er, maybe not. And while I love you to death, you don’t leave me alone when we go to Starbucks. I can’t get anything done,’ I explain.
He nods. He knows I’m right. (Of course I am. Pft.)
There’s something he doesn’t realize about his Starbuck’s routine that’s bright as day to me.
He’ll get his crap done if I’m not there. He may want me there, but he’s got deadlines just as I do. And being a one-man show, it’s even more critical that he do his own thing.
Men need routine.
Carving out time together with two careers and two kids is tricky, but we do it. Routines keep this democracy from crumbling.
Sometimes we deviate of course. Illnesses, vacations, when the kids have days off school – which just screws everything up.
And sometimes I go with him. Sure, I love to hang out with him. And sometimes I really, really want a piece of pumpkin bread.
Rachel is very kindly offering to gift a copy of The Mancode: Exposed via Amazon to five winners!
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Amy Edelman – founder of IndieReader
Tahlia Newland – author of A Matter of Perception
Naomi Blackburn – co-moderator of Sisterhood of the Traveling Book
Jonathan Gould – author of Doodling
Greg – founder of Ereader News Today
Roz Morris – author of My Memories of a Future Life
Stephen Windwalker – founder of Kindle Nation Daily
Susan Salluce – author of Out of Breath
Pandora Poikilos – founder of Orangeberry Book Tours
Michael Burns – author of The Horn
Terri Giuliano Long’s ‘Ode to Book Bloggers’
Donna – founder of Girl Who Reads
Kathy – founder of I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
Rachel Thompson, author of The Mancode: Exposed
Adam Charles, founding Director of iWriteReadRate.com
Christine Nolfi, author of The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge
Wow! I love the cover of this book. it cracked me up :D
Thank you so much for visiting Alyssa! I really love this cover too!
Thanks Terri and for hosting me also. You so rock. xo
Thanks Alyssa — the book was so much fun to write! I warn people up front — if you have a sense of humor, read this book. If not, don't bother. :)
I love to hear comments either way — it's a blast.
Very nice post. Congrats on your success!
It's so encouraging to hear from others who have achieved success as indie writer/publishers. For the first time in a decade, new writers have a reason to be hopeful.
BTW, In Leah's Wake was an incrediable book. Mancode:Exposed is next on my list.
Thank you so very much, Diana! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed In Leah's Wake. That means a lot to me! This truly is a wonderful time to be a writer. We have more opportunity than ever before. I completely agree with you – new writers really do have reason for hope! I wish you all the very best!!
PS: I loved Mancode!
My pleasure, Rachel! Thank you so much for joining us – and for your fab advice (as always). I LOVE Mancode and A Walk in the Snark! I love that your writing is irreverent and funny, but it's also poignant. It's no surprise that your books have done as well as they have!