Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of self-publishing, is brought to you by thriller author Ethan Jones. See below for free eBook offer!
Self-publishing and Expectations
As writers, we want everyone to not only read our books, but also love them. The reality is, of course, a bit less stellar and much more sobering. Not everyone will love your books. Not everyone will read your books. In fact, even your closest friends and relatives may not buy and read your books.
Arctic Wargame, my debut spy thriller, came out officially on May 22, although I uploaded it on Amazon.com a few days before that date, just to make sure everything worked fine. I promoted my work extensively on my Facebook personal page (which has almost 200 friends) and Facebook author page and my Twitter account. I e-mailed pretty much everyone on my e-mail contact lists. I put up posters at my workplace and announced it on the newsletter of the church I attend. The result: I can count the book sales from this blitzkrieg with the fingers of one hand.
What is happening here? Why aren’t these people who I consider friends and close acquaintances buying my book? They don’t love me? They don’t care? What, then?
You may have wondered about these things if your experience is similar to mine. The answer to these questions is complicated and lies as much in your expectations as in the reaction of your friends and relatives.
In terms of expectation, there is nothing wrong with aiming high and dreaming big. But self-published writers need to brace themselves for the most likely scenario of a slow start of their career. Gaining recognition and gathering a readership is generally a marathon, not a sprint. Even many traditionally published authors attest to many difficult starts. Allow yourself time and be prepared for a long journey. Nurse patience and develop a hard skin for negative criticism and rejection.
In terms of your friends and relatives, they are not really to blame. At least not en masse. They love you, of course, each in their own way. Some of them are forgetful, fully intending to check out your work, but then life got in their way. Others simply are non-confrontational and do not want to tell you they are simply not interested in the genre in which you write. After all, we have different tastes and what you spent a year or more writing, re-writing and revising may just not be their cup of tea. Then, you could even have the occasional acquaintance or “friend,” who considers your success as a threat or resents it for whatever reason and has has no intention of supporting your efforts.
The bottom line is that even if all your friends and acquaintances bought your book, that is still quite a limited number. The goal of each author is to sell to complete strangers, who pick up your book solely because they heard something good about it, and they want to enjoy a great story. Then, if they like it, they will want to tell their friends about your work.
During the first few days that Arctic Wargame and my two short stories were published I used to check my sales and ranking almost every hour. Now I checked it once a month, just to make sure there some activity is taking place. I promote my work vigorously and I advise you do the same. We can’t control who buys our books, but there is something we can all control: how much promotion and marketing efforts we put on our products. I know we are writers, but self-published authors have the additional task of becoming salespersons. We need to take our work to the public and hope and pray they will enjoy our stories.
And don’t forget to keep writing. Perhaps your second, third or twentieth book will become a best-seller.
I will! Thank you, Ethan.
The author of Arctic Wargame, a spy thriller available on Amazon as an e-book and paperback, he has also published two short stories: Carved in Memory, a prequel to Arctic Wargame, and The Last Confession, both available on Amazon as e-books.
His second spy thriller, Tripoli’s Target, was released in fall 2012.
His blog is http://ethanjones.blog.com.
** NEWSFLASH ** Arctic Wargame is available FREE on Amazon from 9th to 11th October only!
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with children’s / YA author Ashley Howland – the five hundred and sixteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.