How quickly they grow up…

 

 

 

Here we are. One year to the day that my first novel was published. A lot has happened in that year, some good, a lot not so good. This post isn’t going to be about that. Instead, I thought I’d take you down a list of things that I’ve learned from being an “officially” published author. To be quite frank, if you’re looking for writing advice from a “pro”, you’d be better served looking elsewhere. I’m sure that nothing that I’m writing here hasn’t been done to death on various writing forums and by other, better writers than I. Which leads to me point number one:

 

  • The publishing world is vast, deep, and indifferent to your existence.   Depending on which study/figures you look at, there are as few as a couple hundred thousand and as many as a million books published each year. Let that sink in for a moment. If you thought the big challenge was finding a publisher who wanted to put your book out there, you’re thinking quite short-term. The REAL challenge begins after you sign that contract, after you go through your galleys and approve your back cover blurb, when the damn thing is out in the world, available for sale. The challenge then becomes: how do I get this, my book, the thing I believe in so much and spent hours upon hours making as good as I could, into hands of readers? Take a spin on Amazon for a second. The odds that someone is going to simply stumble upon your book are quite low. This means that you, Published Author, have to turn your attention elsewhere.
  • You are always going to be hustling to sell your book. 

 

And, if you don’t have a clue on how to do this, you might as well sit on the street corner and scream at people to buy your book. That’s kind of what promoting on social media is like. For me, I spent each and every day for four straight months tweeting about my book, using all the hashtags that I could find that were supposed to bring me attention. Facebook? Yeah, you can try it. There’s author groups and what-not you can post to. Instagram? Reddit? Same deal. Keep in mind, you’re among hundreds of thousands of other authors who are fighting for that same precious attention of Mr. and Ms. Internet User. If you expect your publisher to do all the heavy lifting for you, then you are going to be in for a rude awakening. You’re not Stephen King. You’re not John Grisham, all right? The sooner you realize that you’re just one of the lucky people who got a book in print, the better. Small presses in particular are more concerned with logistics and their overhead so they can keep their lights on and keep putting books out there. Promoting you is in their self-interest, yes, but it’s not their top concern (unless your name IS Stephen King or John Grisham, of course).

What else is there asides from social media promotion? For me, not much. Four Bullets is only available via Amazon. It’s not in any bookstore or library. There’s always Cons. These are great to not only get out and meet potential readers, but to network with your peers. Maybe make some new friends. Maybe plan a collaboration or get invited to submit something. My problem: money. As I’ve talked about before, late last year I lost my job (through no fault of my own, fuckers; I was laid off) and we’re still trying to claw our way back to somewhat financial stability even now, eight months later. Cons cost money. You’ve got to pay for the space to sell your book, pay for hotels/travel, and pay for the books themselves. For a no-name hack like me, I’d be running up a sizable debt on the CHANCE to sell a couple of books. Yes, that’s still a success, I realize. I know like it sounds that I’m whining and I don’t intend to. I’m stating the facts as I see them for my situation at present.

  • Getting reviews is crucial and nearly impossible.  When dealing with Amazon, the more reviews a product gets, the more visibility it gets and the more visibility a product has, the greater chance it has to sell. Four Bullets, from those who’ve found it, seems to be getting great feedback. Ten reviews on Amazon at the moment; Nine on Goodreads. However, let’s be honest here: how many of us buy something off Amazon and then take the time to write a review? Especially for a book? The answer, in my case is: not many. I do take great pride in that there are at least ten people who’ve read my book. I take even greater pride in the fact that at least ten people seemed to genuinely ENJOY it. This is huge for a writer, serving as an ego boost. What bothers me though, is that I sent out ARCs (Advanced Reader’s Copies) to some colleagues well before the book came out. How many reviews did I receive back? Answer is: not many. A year later and this still frosts my ass. But, let’s be honest about something here. My book is not the center of everyone’s life. People are busy. I’ve friends with children and I cannot understand how they juggle all their activities and maintain full-time jobs. Still, if you didn’t want to write a review, you could’ve said ‘No, thanks’ when I came around offering ARCs. If you did read it and just didn’t like it, you still could’ve let me know. I’m a big boy and I can take criticism.
  • The thrill of writing a book doesn’t fade after you’ve had one published.  It’s the opposite. For me, it’s constant pushing to finish the next one, then the next, and the next to the point where you’re annoyed at life and start to resent the fact that you can’t do this full-time. My Notebook of Ideas is filling up rapidly. I’ve outlined five novels and have four in active draft form. I’m only working on one at the moment and may have to scorch the earth on one of them (plot got away from me and its now problematic), but there was a time in the recent past where I’d be working on each of them during the week, using whatever writing time I have available to me to the fullest extent.
  • If you think you’re going to be rich, think again.

 

In closing, I’ll leave you with this: I fucking love to write. I love it. Being published is something that I never thought would happen to me. I’ve been writing all my life, in one form or another. I didn’t get serious about it until after my first nervous breakdown, after my now ex-fiancee ran off on me (Thank Christ). I was in my late twenties when I really started. I had my first short story published a few years after I made this a daily thing. Then another, and another, and so on. Four Bullets is the culmination of a life-goal. Growing up, I was always waiting for something to happen. Kind of the curse of small-town living, I guess. It rarely, if ever, occurred to me to go out and MAKE something happen. I’ve done that with Four Bullets. Who cares that it’s not sold as well as I’d hoped (so far)? It’s mine. No one can take this achievement away from me.

Oh, and if you’ve read this far and would like to BUY Four Bullets… go here

 

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