I thought I would post something a little different today instead of what I usually blog about. Because I am a recently published ebook author, I thought I would wait for a couple of months before talking about my own experience with the epublishing industry. In other words I wanted to wait until I knew where I was going before I shared any experiences.
As well as getting on with writing my next book, I've treated these past couple of months as an ongoing experiment to see what works and what doesn't in this industry. Before I was published I had no online presense, something which I now regret and would advise all first time authors against. As some people say: marketing starts yesterday - you need to establish relationships with people before you do anything else. I cannot express just how stressful I found it at the beginning, waiting until my book was out before I started to interact with people.
So, what have these past three months been like?
Mostly extremely stressful and an anti climax. I had waited so long to publish my ebook, and I couldn't wait to get it out there so it would sell. I published via Smashwords and I understood it would take time to go into the premium catalogue. It would still take a while even if I managed to get all the formatting right on the first attempt.
So there it was on Smashwords, and yet nothing else had changed. I felt not one single person in the entire world knew about it. I sold a few copies in the first couple of weeks, but I strongly suspected that it was to those who already who knew me. Disappointed with my initial lack of sales, I decided to put it on Amazon with the hope I would sell more there. I sold 0 copies on all the Amazon sites in the first month. I cannot begin to describe the fear and the panic, not to mention the overwhelming disappointment that was now flowing through my veins. I thought to myself that if I'm not managing to sell a thing on one of the world's largest online retailers, what hope is there for me elsewhere?
By now after the first month, I had completely given up checking my sales. I just couldn't bear to put myself through that feeling of disappointment on a daily basis. So I tried to concentrate on writing my next book about travelling Canada. I decided my first two books were going to be about my overseas experiences, before I started to write fiction books. But because my first book was selling so poorly, that really shook my confidence and made me doubt about my ability to write this second book.
But then I started to read articles about how you have to have quite a few books out before any of them start to sell really well. I decided then that my initial expectations were probably too high, and that I just had to get on with writing. After all, I still had plenty of material for my second book; I thought it would be criminal to waste it and just give up. That's one thing about me - if I really want something I'll never give up until I get it. There was simply no other option for me: I had to carry on.
So I've written 15,000 words on my next book. And as I have been concentrating on writing, I've suddenly realised I've been selling quite a few books in the last couple of weeks. I don't know where these sales have come from but I guess all my book needed was time for it to be discovered.
Now my biggest sales are with Amazon but I've also had sales with Barnes & Noble and Apple too.
And then came a one star review. I've always been aware that my book content will no doubt offend some people. But that's OK: you can't please everyone. That still didn't mean I was any less irritated by what the reviewer had said; I just wondered what made them so perfect. Let me say now I can take constructive criticism by the bucket load. I hired an editor and received plenty of constructive criticism from her. That was fine. That's her job. She would have failed if she told me everything was perfect when I already knew it wasn't. I wasn't paying her to tell me what a fantastic writer I was - I was paying her to pull every sentence apart. Which she did and now my book is better for it. I'm not saying I took all her advice, I didn't. But I did what I thought I had to do.
That one star review was a personal attack. That's all. Nothing more, nothing less. As artists we can't escape the people who want to slate us for whatever reason. We can't escape them, especially not online.
These past three months have taught me so much. More than I could ever hope to learn. If you want to write then just do it. Write, and write some more. Continue to market by building up relationships with people, and learn to love your critics as well as your fans.
In the first three months, I have passed my sales target I set for the whole of the year.