A long, long time ago – ok, almost 3 years ago, now – I sat down at my computer with this idea in my head. Before that, I had never thought of writing a book. Oh sure, I had ideas on how to make stories better, but I wasn’t “born” to be an author. I didn’t have some inner desire to “do this” when I “grew up”. Instead, this story just popped into my head and forced me to let it out. Five novels later, I was able to take a breath.
It also kinda sucked.
No, wait. The STORY was amazing. The writing, however, wasn’t the best. Granted, the story was almost (but not quite) enough to make up for the massive amount of newbie mistakes I made. An editor made them better. A few dozen beta readers made it good, and then an editor made it into something to be proud of.
But by that point, I was well on my way to being an “author”. Now, if you’ve ever written anything, you’ll understand that there’s a very wide, grey line all the way around that word. If we write, we’re writers, but when are we authors? Is that better or worse than being a writer? The same thing? It’s all so confusing. But I had this book. People liked this book. So maybe I should think about letting them have the chance to read it.
And so I dove head first into research. As I mentioned before, I ended up choosing to publish my work myself. So far, it’s been a great decision. I’ve probably made more money (albeit not that much) than I would have with a traditional deal. Keep in mind, I published my first book about six months ago. But, in order to make those dollars, I had to treat this like a job, not a hobby. Thankfully, I came prepared. Thank you, Google.
I read, read, read, and then read some more. I saw that successful authors had certain traits, and tried to emulate them. First, it was the process of getting the book ready. I didn’t skimp on making sure that REAL people (besides me) saw it. I also didn’t go for friends who would pamper my feelings. I chose the meanest, nastiest, smartest people I could talk into reading this beast of a novel.
Then, I looked at cover art. Ok, some of my stories were nearly impossible to design the cover for. Looking back, I realize that a few hundred dollars would have been money well spent. Instead, I decided to my own professional art skills. I thought it would be a great way to save money. I was wrong. In the end, I spent about the same to get what I needed (software, assets, etc) and added time on top of it.
And when all of that was done, I started thinking about marketing. Oops! Talk about putting the cart before the horse, right? I mean, if you build it, they will come? Won’t they? Yeah, not if they have no idea it even exists. Marketing comes first, and social media is a great way to start. For me, twitter was the obvious choice. It doesn’t matter WHICH you choose, just so long as you can commit to putting something out there every day. It doesn’t need to be related to your book, either.
You see, it takes TIME to make friends in our little virtual worlds. People aren’t looking to find the next greatest author. They are looking for intelligent people who have something entertaining to say. Trust me, no one is going to follow you because you WROTE A BOOK. There’s a zillion people who have done that, and most of them suck at it. They will follow you because you entertain them – even if that’s just posting bad spider jokes or cat pictures.
And now, I look at my growing fan base and have to pause. All those things I researched, all that advice I found… I’m doing it. When I first held my book (er flash drive) in my hand, it was overwhelming. I wanted it all RIGHT NOW! But, not even a year later, it’s coming together nicely. I have books. I have fans. I have followers, friends, and whatever you call the people who read this blog. The best part? I also have sales. Sure, I’d like more. I mean, I want EVERYone out there to read my books. I’d love to be able to quit my day job and focus solely on creating the next best escape from reality. Until then, I’ll celebrate the little victories…. like 1000 people following me on twitter. =)