February, as some might know, marks a certain reflective time in my life. Fittingly, this last February has marked a certain new achievement in my author journey.
In the four and a half years since I launched my first novel back in September 2015, this past month marks the achievement of being the first month ever with … <drumroll> … No Sales on Amazon!
Yay! … ?
No, really, I am celebrating. (Heck, I celebrate 1-star reviews, so you shouldn’t be surprised.) No author had wrote a book, got a sweet publishing deal right off the bat, and went on for forty years of happy writing without a single hitch. It just doesn’t happen in the real world.
(Alright, I’m sure as soon as I post this someone will come up with an example — but we can all agree it’s the exception that proves the rule. Even JK Rowling had 237 rejection letters, and her journey hasn’t been exactly smooth).
So here’s what else has happened in February, and some advice on how any author should view their journey.
Sales and Slumps
First, though it’s the first month with out sales on Amazon, there was still a paperback sold through Ingram Spark. That channel has been getting more traction in recent months (certainly more than the first couple of years). I don’t have a clear explanation for this (IS sucks at giving you visibility into the markets and resellers that the orders came from), but I’ll take it. Also, according to Kindle Unlimited page-reads, the books have been read cover-to-cover at least six times! (Maybe seven, if a few people skipped the end-notes).
I have also sent review copies of the novels to four or five reviewers whom I’m sure would enjoy it and write a review in time, and — unrelated — reviewers have posted new reviews! Any indie author would tell you how much of a constant struggle it is to get these. So: Six new reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon! Mostly the same reviews on both channels (or should I could them as seven total, to account for the differences?) and mostly overwhelmingly positive.
So while Amazon kindle sales have taken a longer-than-average slump, the books are still in circulation, and the people who do find them love them. That is a very heart-warming thought indeed.
Lastly, back in January I participated in the #AuthorsForFireys Twitter fundraiser to help deal with the Australian Bushfires. I then decided to run it throughout the Aussie summer. I had one other person get my books that way back in Jan (Hi Joe!) — but still! It’s a hundred dollars raised for a good cause. Also, tweeting “don’t buy my books” might not have helped the slump ;-P
The key message for fellow authors, is that — statistically — slumps in sales happen. Don’t take the momentary fluctuations for more than they are, and keep looking at the long journey. Most of us, while would no doubt enjoy to retire to write full time, won’t ever quite make it (let alone be a household name).
It is, however, one of the most satisfying (though some days in an emotional draining way) hobbies you can have. Focus on the joys of writing, and the stories that bring you joy. Remember also that the more books you have, the less these statistical slumps will happen — so keep on writing!
Another fun thing that happened, is that She to Whom the Books are Dedicated has given me the most wondrous gift for an author!
Like many authors I am fascinated by the very act of writing, and what with my penchant for history it’s only natural that I love old typewriters. (It has nothing to do with learning to type during the last ice age).
So here is how I will by typing my books from now on: a Qwerkywriter mechanical keyboard! These are things of beauty and function. They have the same weight and feel of old style typewriters, but they connect (via bluetooth) to any computer or device. The keyboard layout is multi-functional and fits modern needs, while giving you the goosebump clickety feeling of old-timey authors.
Just look at it in action!
The “carriage return” lever is a nice touch. I have it showing Enter (new paragraph) in the above video, but it’s programmable. I actually mapped it to alt-tab, to switch to the last application. This allows me to quickly switch between Scrivener (writing) and my notes in OneNote, or a thesaurus / reference material, or — this past weekend — beta readers’ feedback (see below…. 😉
Other nice touches are the wheels on the side. Traditionally use to load a sheet of paper, these now act as scrollers. One allows you to scroll around in your current document, and the other controls media volume. (You can flip which one does which, though I found them a tad spastic).
The only drawback is that it’s heavy, definitely not something you’d lug around in your bag. All those metal keys and sturdy construction come at a price. On the flip-side, it will no doubt encourage me to find more time to type at home, so the next book might be finished even quicker 😉
All in all it’s a gorgeous and practical thing, definitely the best keyboard I ever had the pleasure of putting fingers to. Makes the whole writing bit in writing a novel an absolute, drool-worthy joy.
So that’s definitely something worth celebrating!
As you might have seen above (unless you skipped), I started to receive beta-reader feedback for In Victrix. This feedback is at the all-important story-level of the editing process. While I love my stories, I’d like to make sure that it carries through to readers. In other words, I’d like my readers to get out of it whatever I put into it. (Which reminds me, yes, Felix goes on a romp in the sewers again).
I’ve also commissioned a cover for In Victrix, from the same talented designer who made all the others in the series. I’ll put up a proper page for the book once I have it (and celebrate, of course!). On my newsletter I mentioned one of the inspiration images for the story, and I can’t wait to see what my talented designer will come up it!
I also have some evil-genius idea for the book, but it remains to be seen whether it pans out. Put down September 1st as a tentative launch date.
Here are your main takeaways, which should apply whether you’re an author or not:
- Shit happens, statistically speaking
- Don’t let it get to you, but focus on the good things (there’s always something)
- Celebrate any achievement, no matter how small
- Buy my books (no, really, that’s an essential part of it, honest)
That’s it for now. If you’re an author in a slump, keep reading my previous posts about encouragement and why we write. If you have one story inside you, you probably have more. And the more you put out, the easier everything becomes, the less slumps you’ll experience, and the sweeter the journey.
If you’re here for my writing, I’m sure you’re as excited as I am about the coming publication of In Victrix. Until I make the splash with the cover-reveal, why don’t you check out the free short stories or the full novels?