After twenty years of talking about it, I finished my first book. Just reading that line makes me grin like an idiot. I’m a writer now. Me. This guy! I can say that to people with a clean conscious knowing full well I’m not saying it and hoping it’ll be true one day. It’s fascinating to me that it took this long to just do it. I’ve finished projects before: Short stories, backgrounds, fan fictions, mods for games, and a few other things- But never something on this scale. The first draft ended at about 105,000 words. I already know I want to put another chapter in, and that the first two are total rewrites, so I expect that the final product will be between 110k-120k. Quantity is no indication of quality in books or anything else, but I think it’s is pretty damn good. I’m sure my editor- the lovely Jenn Loring– will help me keep it under control. (That and my hit or miss punctuation.) Big shout out to Jenn by the way for getting a big book deal recently. Congrats again!
So what am I doing now? Am I knee deep in the editing phase making sure that story is as perfect as it can be before I send it out into the world? Nope. I’m not touching that thing for at least a month. If I can help it I won’t even be thinking about it until I open that file up again. Getting good distance from my book will let me go back and look at it with a fresh perspective. I, and I’m sure others, have a tendency to see what I meant and not what I typed if I go back to something shortly after finishing it. If I go back now, I risk either missing obvious problems because I think its perfect, or seeing ghosts where there are none and chopping it to bits. (Get it? Ghosts? It’s a horror novel. Yuck, yuck, yuck.) Neither of those things is going to make the book better, so the best thing I can do for now is step away.
I intended to fill the space between, “The End,” and edits with short story writing. Whenever I get an idea I jot down a few quick notes on it, stick it in my idea folder, and head back to whatever project I’m working on. After I finished Darker Shadows I went to my idea folder and picked out a short story that caught my attention right away. I got about three thousand words in before I realized that I didn’t want to tell a short story. These characters are on a journey, and although they wouldn’t want you to know about it, I do. So my short story turned into a second novel. As of today I’m about 15,000 words in. I have no idea how this keeps happening. Darker Shadows was supposed to be a short story as well. Part of me is kinda proud of that. I see what the characters are going through, I see who they are, and I realize that there is more to the story than I first realized. Another part of me is a bit annoyed- I won’t be able to edit Darker Shadows until I’m finished with this book. (That being said it’s going by really quickly. This story is telling itself.)
I’ve also decided- under advisement from my good friend Ernie Dempsey– that now is the time to start getting myself out there and selling books. The unfortunate truth is that as an indie writer, finishing projects is only a small part of the job. Not only will I have to edit my book, re-edit my book, have my editor edit my book, and edit my book again, but I’ll have to sell it as well. Selling it is in my mind the hardest part. Mark my words: Anonymity is our enemy fellow indie writers. In a world that is choked full of books, how do we get anybody to read ours? After all, nobody backs us up but the few close friends we are lucky enough to have. The solution that has been presented to me is to get the word out there as much as possible.
Make a website with a mailing list opt in and draw people to it. Guest write on websites, answer questions on Qurora, and show off your book cover on Facebook. Get to know the innumerable communities for readers that are out there on the internet. Talk to local bookshop owners, and speak with books reviews sites about taking a look at your work. (Paying careful attention to their guidelines) Tell all your friends, make a Google+ fan page for yourself, link your website in everything you do online- The list goes on. The point to take away is that you have to sell yourself once you have that book. You are a writer now. You have a product to sell people- Sell it. Whatever you do though, do it tastefully. It’s one thing to mention to other people you talk to on Goodreads that you’re a writer, it’s another thing to bring up your book every time someone says a word that starts with b. (Nobody likes that gal/guy)
Why start selling so early? The book is going to happen- It’s done now. Making money as an author is just a matter of when at this point. By the time that book is out on Amazon I would like at least a few people to already be talking about it. I’ll show off my cover, post excerpts, and discuss the book in broad strokes with people all over the place. I’ll draw them back to this website by engaging them wherever we meet. When Darker Shadows does come out people will want to read it. Think that’s crazy? Have you ever seen a movie preview and said to yourself, “Hey, that looks cool! I’m gonna see that.” That’s what I’m going for.
Truth be told I’d rather spend all my time writing. In an ideal world I could edit Darker Shadows, hand it off to Jenn, and be writing the next book a day later. Selling books is essential though. As an unknown indie author who wants to do this for a living, I’m going to have to be something of a salesman. I don’t like that- I’m bad at it and it felt sleazy at first. The thing I taught myself is to constantly remember that I’m not just selling books- I’m getting to know my possible readers. Like I said before, if you go onto social websites just trying to sell your book you’ll look like an asshole. Don’t do it, nobody likes a pushy salesman. Go out and meet people. Let the world (and the internet) see you for who you are. If one in one hundred people you interact with buys a book then you’ve made fans, friends, and sold a book all at once. Not a bad deal, huh? So every day- after I write at least two thousand words- I dive into the various social outlets I have at my fingertips and I mingle. Hell, writing is about telling a story, and every person you meet is full of them. You never know where the inspiration for your next novel might come from.
I hope my journal is helping a few people. If it is drop me a line in the comment section. I’d love to hear from fellow writer’s about ways they’ve found that work for them when it comes to selling books.