Self-publishing the first book (Guardian Demon) was amazing in so many ways. To actually hold a copy of my own work, the booky smell of it, the silkiness of the cover, the weight of it, was a sublime moment. I knew it was going to feel great, but I wasn’t prepared for what a transforming experience it would be. Suddenly, my hobby was a second job; I wasn’t writing for myself anymore, I was writing for an audience – some of them strangers. But what struck me even more was the reaction of my friends and family, in particular the outpouring of collective pride in my achievement, but also, rather disturbingly, an undercurrent of, “wow, so you were serious after all!”, as if I’d only been pretending to be a writer for all these years.
However, what came next was a bit more awkward. About a month after publishing people started asking the inevitable questions about how many books I’d actually sold. I’m not exactly sure what everyone was expecting; perhaps they thought I might be an overnight success. When I replied that I hadn’t sold many books they invariably didn’t know what to say, usually following up with something encouraging or changing the subject altogether, while looking as if they now wished they hadn’t bothered asking. This is something I was unprepared for, managing the expectations of well meaning others. Perhaps I’ll blog about it later when I’ve figured out the best way to handle it.
Of course, I hold my own dreams – in a small dusty drawer – of overnight success, of meteoric sales figures and rabid fans clamouring for my next offering. But, more importantly, I understand that such an outcome, although possible, belongs in the realm of incredible good luck where a winning lottery ticket is found in a wastepaper basket and not as a ball of mush in the bottom of the washing machine. Distilled from what I’ve read, I’ve formed a plan for improving my chances of success that involves more than just writing a good book and then throwing out into the world and hoping for the best. I’ve decided to do two things, to set up a mailing list and to publish more books.
Everywhere, there seems to be indie authors lamenting that they didn’t set up their mailing lists early enough and missed the chance to capture many of their early subscribers. So, I set up my mailing list before my second book was published. I used opted to use Aweber, instead of Mailchimp, despite the former being a paid service from the outset, because I liked its features and I wanted to start thinking of my publishing on professional terms right from the start, I wanted it to match my growing ambitions. I’ve incorporated links to my mailing list in my blog, twitter, my e-mail signature and in the back material of my books. This is very early for this part of my plan so I will blog about it sometime in the future when I’ve gained a little more experience with it.
As to publishing more books, there is only one thing to do about this and that is to get writing. So, I’ve set myself the challenge of publishing as many books as possible in the next three years – between now and when I turn fifty. Hopefully, a minimum of six titles, and I’ll blog later about how this fits into a marketing strategy that will evolve and grow over the coming years.
So, sticking to the plan, I’ve published my second book (The Red Bothy). Initially I hope to run promotions on the first book, and hope they translate to more lucrative sales of the second. Only time will tell, and of course I will share what I discover in this blog.
As it turns out, self-publishing another novel was different the second time around. I’m sorry to say, it wasn’t as much of a thrill, and it took on a rather startling feel of normality, as if, yeah, so what, this is what I do now, I write stuff and publish it myself. I never imagined this would feel so mundane so quickly, as if it was just another job (shudders at the keyboard). I’m sure – I hope – this is just a phase, like my psyche swinging too far the other way, over-compensating?
So, what to write next? Do I write the third book in the series? The first instalment of a second series? A stand alone story or a book of short stories? The latter being an excellent free giveaway to attract potential subscribers to my mailing list, but more of that in a later post. Right now, I think I’m going to write a stand alone novel while working on the short story anthology in the background. I think it’s time to let my first series percolate for a while, or rot down a bit and go all squishy.