Just like last year, I missed commemorating the late-January anniversary of my first book’s release. Firehurler came out at the end of January, 2013. It seems like forever ago. I suppose it wasn’t.
Perspective changes, goals shift, and if you’re not moving your own goalposts ever farther back, you’re not trying hard enough. I’ve written and published 10 books now, including the Twinborn Trilogy, Mad Tinker Chronicles, and 3 books in the Black Ocean series. I’ve been included in one short story anthology, and compiled a collection of my own Twinborn short stories.
But self-publishing isn’t just about writing stories, it’s also about marketing and selling them. My second year as a self-published author was much steadier in terms of income, but certainly nothing spectacular. But what was a month’s sales back in, say, August of 2013, is now a decent day’s book sales. This translates to roughly the equivalent of working for minimum wage. I didn’t “break out” or break the bank. I don’t think I did breaking of any sort. What I managed was more of a settling in.
While I haven’t managed to separate myself from the self-published herd, I do seem to have managed to join it. This year I’ve seen a notable uptick in people besides me talking about my books. On /r/fantasy (the best fantasy community on the web, IMO), there are a number of redditors who recommend my books when people are looking for something that fits their description. I think it’s hard to convey what this means to an independent author. Someone out there, whom I’ve never met in person, was willing to put their name behind something I wrote and recommend it. This goes a step beyond a review, which is more of a general opinion piece or essay, and is a personal stamp telling someone “Hey, you’re looking for X? Well, J.S. Morin’s book has it.” This is really the seed of success, and I need to help it grow.
Of course, it all comes back to the writing. If I write things people enjoy reading, they’ll continue reading more. If I manage to write things people LOVE reading, they’ll tell their friends. If I can get some readers to the point of foisting my books onto hapless strangers, I think I’ll have this marketing thing licked. While I’d like to say I love all my readers equally, I love my loud ones just a little bit more.
- 6 Black Ocean books (1 already came out in February)
- Produce a manuscript for traditional publishing
- 1 Non-fiction release on the topic of worldbuilding
I’m on pace to meet the first goal. Though things are a bit fluid, even-month releases throughout the year are the plan. The second is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’m a believer in the hybrid author model, using traditional publishing for reader validation and increasing reach, and self-publishing for creative control and per-unit profit. The last goal is something a little different. I write a lot on my blog about worldbuilding, and it’s a topic I put a great deal of thought behind, both in my own writing and in talking with other authors. I want to start putting that knowledge into book form to make it more accessible.