A funny thing happened on the way to formatting my novel Firehurler for ebook publication: It ended up published. To say that the process went off without a hitch and was far easier than I had expected speaks mainly to the fact that I didn’t have to do it myself. My wife handled all that part for me. Nonetheless, I had anticipated a longer struggle with formatting and so forth. As it turned out, aside from minor issues and a bit of trying to get my maps to fit properly on a page, the export tools worked marvelously.
That led to something I was unprepared for: Firehurler was ready to publish, and weeks earlier than I had anticipated. What else was there to do? We put it out there.
That Weird Feeling
Seeing Firehurler on its own Amazon page, listed just like every other book was a surreal experience. If you browse around there with any regularity, you see hundreds, if not thousands of other books. All the days, weeks, and months you put into your book – other authors did the same for each of those others. There were manuscripts passed back and forth from author to editor, creative discussions with illustrators, sending copies out to beta readers to read, enjoy, and pick apart to help make the novel better. The results of a single page of search results might have entailed 10,000 hours of creative labor.
Another Brick in the Wall
Well, I just went from feeling special, a brand new author, to realizing that my book was among the countless multitudes. I was at the bottom, looking up, a child among a concert crowd, shouting for attention when everyone around me was bigger, taller, louder. The initial shock of being there gave way to the reality that it was just the beginning of a new phase: marketing.
In fairness, I had already been working to gain exposure for Firehurler, but the world is a busy place. It takes a lot to divert attention from work, school, kids, TV, internet, and a million other hobbies and interests to get someone to set aside a not inconsiderable amount of time to pay attention to an unreleased epic fantasy novel. Well, we can knock the “un” off that, and the task becomes only marginally less daunting.
Now though, there was a place to point people, and not just my own website. There was a large, universally known, online retailer that had my book a few clicks away from being in the hands of anyone who wanted it.
Friends and Family
Like it or not, unless you are already established as an author (and don’t need the help) or are on poor terms with most of the people you know (and won’t get any help), your circle of friends and family have become a de facto part of your marketing department. They have also turned into your most likely customers. The best things you have in your favor are having spent much of your life on good terms with your relatives, and having written the sort of book that your friends like to read.
A New Paranoia
Do you like data? I hope not!
I do, unfortunately, and all sorts of new data is now available to distract me. I don’t know the refresh rate on the sales numbers provided by Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), but I’m sure I’ll figure it out before long. I tried to actually work on writing on the day Firehurler went live (Book 2, Aethersmith, is already in editing, I’m working on the to-be-named series finale). Good luck with that! Between receiving well-wishes (which were all quite welcome) and running through the Opening Day plan for getting the word out about Firehurler being on the market, there was little time left over. And then there were my two new nemeses:
- Amazon KDP Month-to-Date Unit Sales – This is the report that tells me how many people have bought my newly-buyable book
- Firehurler (Twinborn Trilogy) [Kindle Edition] J.S.Morin ***** (X customer reviews) – …where “X” is a number of keen interest to me. Well, what do people trust when looking for a new book? Personal recommendations and online reviews. This is half of that.
Between these two useful and highly gratifying little statistics, there is a time-sink of water-torture fiendishness. I know that they aren’t going to change from minute to minute, but a free moments dangles the temptation to check anyway. “Hey, two more sales!” “Someone just posted a review *readreadread* YES!”
The Look Ahead
Time will tell how sales of Firehurler will go. I hear from other authors I talk to that once a trilogy is finished, a lot more people will buy it (some just don’t like the waiting between books…sorry beta readers!). Early impressions have been favorable all around, both from beta readers and from people who have just picked it up. I can only trust that hard work promoting it will pay off long term. Dreams of writing full time are years away, but the first boulder has been tipped to start the rock-slide.
Now I just need to stop checking my damn book sales and get back to writing Book 3!