Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Month In

A month ago today I began my journey as an author and published Blood of Two.  I suppose a writer diving off into this adventure without their eyes wide open would be disappointed at this point, but the results are what I expected.

One month in, I am not a rich man, nor am I a famous author.  Neither of which was something that I expected.  Am I content?  No.  Am I discouraged?  No.  As far as sales are concerned, the book has met my expectations at this point.

This is part of writing a book that is the most challenging for myself; marketing.  I have never been adept at selling anything, including myself.  I think numerous failed job interviews serve as testimony to that statement.  So, this is another lesson that I need to learn.  Hey, I taught myself computer programming and have become quite proficient at it, I can teach myself to market my book.  I hope.

The most difficult part of marketing is convincing myself that time spent in that arena is part of my writing.  I spent two hours last night working on the marketing aspect, all the while pining that I should be working on the follow-up to Blood.  In essence, I was, as well as continuing my work on Blood of Two.

The one thing that I didn't expect when I published Blood of Two was the feedback.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have published the book if I didn't think it was worthy.  However, often what I think is good is not what other's think is good.  The feedback has blown me away.

I have read reader reviews of Blood that were critical of certain aspects as well as complimentary of the book.  And for the most part, I agreed.  I was also elated that people that I didn't know enjoyed the story.  My friends and family, of course, have been extremely encouraging, which is priceless.  But when a complete stranger praises my work, it seems to add credence to what I have been told by those close to me.  These comments give me drive to continue.  Hell, even the criticisms give me drive to carry on.

I am doing something that I enjoy and people appreciate what I am doing.  My gut tells me that the sales will eventually pick up, with a little help.  So, I am happy with the process so far.

One month in and I'm not concerned with the sales, my concern lies with completing book two.  In eleven months I hope to do a search for C. Hollis Gunter on Amazon and see two titles.  And I hope that it is received as well as Blood of Two.

Friday, September 14, 2012

If You Read it, Review it

An honest review is as good as gold.

The world of independent publishing is populated with get-rich-quick schemers.  Formulae are being developed and some claim they have found perfection in theirs.  Write a book, e-publish it, market it through social networking, purchase online reviews, write another within six months, rinse and repeat.  By book number 3 (or five depending on who you believe), you will be able to quit your day job.

Did you catch that little piece about purchasing online reviews?  They are available for purchase, and not just for books.  And do you really think someone is going to pay for a review that is not a positive review?

I will say it now:  If you purchase a review for your book, you are NOT an author.

This practice does not bode well for the serious writer.  As a reader, if I surf around on an online retailer and find a 99 cent book that has a plethora of 5 star reviews and that book sucks, I will be wary of the next 99 cent book with a five star rating.  Eventually, if I get bitten enough, I will view all 99 cent books as useless crap.  Which, by the way, I do.

I like to support my fellow independent authors, so I have purchased quite a few titles written by them.  I have come across quite a few gems, but I have also found books that should have been left on a hard drive that was about to crash.  Almost every one of the hack jobs that I have read had nothing but positive reviews.

If every review for your title is an honest review, you will NOT have an overall five star rating.  Somewhere in that list of reviews, someone will give it less than five stars.  It is a fact of life.  People's taste in fiction is different.  What one person loves about your book, another will absolutely hate about it.  In the world of the internet, people are not afraid to tell you how they feel.

Don't believe me?  Check out the reviews for some of the classics on Amazon.  Take a gander at George R. R. Martin's reviews for his latest book, and everything this man touches lately is gold.

Bottom line:  The industry needs honest reviews.  Whether you liked the book or not, your review can be helpful to the author.  Maybe you disliked an element that the author thought they pulled off well, and you pointing it out brings to light a way for them to improve.  Maybe the book is just crap and readers need to be warned off of it.  Write the review.  Be honest.  Be tactful.  If you are hateful, or attack the author, the review will likely be ignored.  Have I said it yet?  BE HONEST!  I mean this whole-heartedly.  If you don't like my book I want to know why, and I believe most true author's should be like this.

If you read it, review it.

And I mean it.

Anybody want a peanut?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vacation is Over

Blood of Two was published some three weeks ago and I took some time off from writing.  Last week I took off from my real job.  Today; I am back.  Back and excited for what is to come.
This evening I will dive back into book two and the thoughts churning through my mind have me anxious to put them in print.  The people in my head have been quite active these past few weeks.

A large part of my excitement is the feedback I have received from Blood of Two.  To be honest, I didn't expect much, but a couple of reviews on Amazon, and some comments from people I know have been more than encouraging.  Sales have been what I expected, being a debut novel and I can feel this train gathering momentum as it chugs away from the station.

My target date for book two is August of 2013.  I would love to have it out sooner, but I am not going to force the process.  For myself, there are a lot of steps in the process of making a publishable novel and to skip those steps would be to create a substandard work.  I will not push out a book that isn't ready for the reader.

One thing that kept coming back to me these last three weeks:  I am a writer.  Of all the things that I have been labeled throughout my life, this title has its own special feeling.  It is something that I have wanted to be for a long, long time.  I am a husband, a father, a brother, a son, and soon to be a grandfather, all of which have significant meaning and a special place in my life, but now, I am also a writer.  My brother is a photographer, my son a musician, and me, well, I am a writer.  Damn that feels good.

Vacation is over.  Time for me to get back to being a writer.