My sincere apologies that it has been so long since I last posted. With launching a book, life has been a little crazy. However, I did want to give you some updates about where I’m at and what I’ve learned two weeks after publishing my first book.
Where I’m at
First, a look at the present. For those curious, the book is doing well. It reached number seven on the charts in one of its categories and the top fifty for the other two, which felt amazing. Initial sales were great, which I hoped for, and have since plateaued, which seems fine. It is my hope that as more people finish the book and leave ratings and reviews I may get more momentum for the long term.
As to how I am doing, I have mostly spent the last couple of weeks in recovery. The weeks leading up to getting my final files in were extremely packed and stressful, with long hours, much worry, and chronic ergonomic-related pain. I wasn’t able to come up much for air, which meant very little recovery or relaxation time and almost no free time to spend with family and friends. Now, with the book published, I’ve been able to see people, watch anime or play video games, or even just rest. I’ve also been reading a lot more lately; Yona of the Dawn has been consuming much of my reading time, though a few mysteries and thrillers have also had my attention.
Emotionally, it doesn’t feel like it’s fully set in yet. One of the biggest surprises to me was not when people bought the book, but when people actually started to read it. I know that seems a little odd, but it’s true. I started hearing comments back about people enjoying it and was legitimately surprised that they had read it, some of them very quickly. To be honest, some of that might have been exacerbated by the fact I don’t even have my own copy yet (my author copies should be arriving tomorrow!), but even so, it’s very strange.
One area where I’ve been trying to improve is in celebrating the accomplishment. This has been a dream a decade in the making, so for me, it’s no small thing. However, given my personality, it’s easy to simply gloss over even big things like this, either in an attempt to stay humble (sometimes effective), because I know there’s still more work to be done, because I know one book isn’t going to be enough to make a writing career, or simply because I’m excited for the next project/an admitted workaholic when it comes to these things (read: most/all things). I’ve done a few things to celebrate already, such as taking my parents to dinner (dad ended up paying, which was not my intent…), spending a little time in thankful worship or reflection, or treating myself to a splurge item here or there, but I’ll have to keep working on that.
What I learned
Now that the present is accounted for, let’s take a look at the recent past.
As one might expect, I learned a lot publishing a book. Some of it was very practical, such as how to actually publish a book on Amazon or Ingram, how to set up author profiles for things like Amazon or Goodreads, or how to setup and format a book (hint: if you’re able to, use Vellum).
On the other hand, a lot of it was more personal about what I do and don’t enjoy about publishing, what I am and am not willing to do for myself, and, in general, what my general approach to writing may be in future. Since there is enough wrapped up in all of the above to do at least five blog posts, I’ll summarize a few key takeaways here:
- Publishing can be an arduous and time-consuming task. I was astonished at how long some tasks took (copyediting) and at how quickly I was able to do some others, such as formatting the book or uploading it. I thought the week of the book launch itself would be insanely busy, but given how front-loaded certain tasks, such as editing, were, it was not nearly so busy. At the same time, there are a ton of small admin tasks I’m still working through and marketing this will have a long tail, so that’s an ongoing thing.
- To a similar point, I also learned a lot about deadlines. Life has a beautiful, glorious way of interfering with our plans, sometimes in terrible and sometimes in beautiful ways. This year, I basically spent an entire summer getting this done, and while I am insanely grateful and glad for that to have happened, I would like to live a life where I will not be sent into an absolute tailspin when such plan-interrupting obstructions or, perhaps much more truthfully, opportunities come. I want to live a balanced life, and working sixty hour weeks to meet deadlines is not the way to do that, at least for me. I want to make sure for any future deadlines that I am a little farther along before committing to things that may force me into such terrible corners.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that a lot of people will never read my book, and that’s okay. Something that held me back for a long time was fear: fear that people wouldn’t like the book, fear it wouldn’t be good enough, or fear that people would make judgments about who I am or what I believe because of what I do or do not choose to write about/how I write about it. However, when your rankings instantly plummet down by hundreds and then thousands of rankings just because your free eBook sale ends, there’s something immensely refreshing about knowing how small your book is within the context of the larger world. Not only has this freed me from a lot of my fears about what people will think about my book, it’s also given me a lot more freedom when considering how to proceed. One of the concerns my mother has noted about me in the past is how unhappy writing has sometimes appeared to make me feel. And while some of that likely stems from the fact that writing is hard, I can be a little dramatic sometimes, and sometimes there’s just unenjoyable things a writer needs to do in order to be one (as in any job), the weeks I spent doing sixty hours a week did drive home this point a bit more. Guests on The Prolific Creator podcast, my go-to writing podcast, talk a lot about how important it is for writers to have fun, and there have definitely been times when writing has not been fun for me. This is something I’d like to work on in future, and having a book out and realizing how small it is seems to be giving me more leeway to do that. Which leads me too…
For this section, I’m going to talk about two quick things, first the immediate future and then my plan moving forward.
In the short term, there’s still a lot to do. First and foremost, I’ll be having an in-person launch party later in September, so I’m working on planning that and keeping healthy until then. I’ve also got to work on getting this blog more consistent, my newsletter, and making sure that the book is everywhere it needs to be. I’ve got giveaways and swag to sort, some free thank you copies to send, and research to do for libraries, local book stores, contests, and other events. I’d like to get on some more podcasts too, though that’s still a work in progress.
Looking a little farther into the future, I’d like to look into getting an audiobook made for The Yochni’s Eye. Seeing that publishing books can be an expensive endeavor, I may wait on that part to ensure I have the audience for it, though if you would like to see that sooner, please let me know in the comments below. I’m also going to be working on my next project, which is cleaning up an old book that I wrote earlier, and planning the next ones I want to write which may be my first duology.
Finally, in the farther future, I have two larger goals. There is a lot that I could say here, and perhaps will in another post, but given that this post is already quite long, I’ll try to be succinct.
The first goal is to get a lot faster. It took me about three years of consistent, dedicated work to get The Yochni’s Eye published. Ambitiously, I would like to get my next book out around the same time next year. Even more ambitiously, I would like to eventually get to a point where I could get two books out every year. There are a lot of tools I can use to help with that, such as books like Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love or Alan Watt’s 90-Day Novel. Better diagnostic editing tools will help me to fix my plot problems faster as well, and I’m hoping that if I can improve my craft, things like copyediting will be less of a bear moving forward. We’ll see how all of that goes.
My second, more vague goal is to figure out what kind of writer I want to be. I think a lot of this has come out already over time as I’ve written; things like favored themes, character types, settings, and more have naturally made themselves apparent throughout the many projects I’ve taken on. However, what remains a mystery to me is how this all should translate into process and business. As I mentioned above, there have been seasons in my life where writing has not been very fun. But I believe that it is God’s plan for me to enjoy my work. Often, I do. However, it feels like there is a bit of a stigma to this baked into the writing or even artistic community, as if to be an artist who does not suffer or starve makes you somehow inauthentic. And, personally, as a perfectionist, to think that someday I could be happy putting something out there with any less effort than I did for this book seems as if I would somehow be doing the work a disservice. On the other hand, as also mentioned above, in order to be a successful writer, one must also take on the role of business person. And, in the indie publishing world, that means speed. There are many authors out there who are making a living writing at any variety of paces on any number of projects. There are a surprisingly high number of revenue streams one can make from writing, so the question becomes, which revenue streams do I want to pursue and, perhaps more importantly in terms of a healthy work-life balance, how hard do I want to pursue them? Do I want to sink all the time in to polish a project to an absolute mirror-like sheen, or is working on things while the iron is hot and then moving on to the next project a better strategy? Should I do a Patreon? Short stories? Ghost writing or writing with co-authors? These are all questions I need to consider and explore, all while learning how to grow and run an actual business. It’s a lot, though I hope and believe I’m up to the task.
In any case, thank you for reading this far and for joining me on this journey. I’ve got more updates coming soon (including a potential revamp of the blog), so stay tuned for more info. Please leave any comments or questions below, and sign up for my newsletter for more updates and exclusive content.