It has been quite a journey the past few months. My novel, PELICAN BAY was released on July 20th, 2013. I woke up that morning to find a Facebook post from my publisher, Imajin Books, telling me that I was a list bestseller. How’s that for morning coffee?
Lesson#1: Amazon only helps those who help themselves. If I had not busted my ass with pre-launch buzz, I would not have made certain lists which are responsible for PELICAN BAY being a list bestseller 48 days later as I write this. Hint, being in the top three on Amazon’s Hot New Release List is like adding rockets to your skateboard.
The UK author, Matt Haig has written some terrific blogs. In one I read he said that, “In an author’s career, very little is in his or her control.” I have personally found that to be true, especially if you’re a new author. I’ve gone to bed dining with Hemingway in the top two, and woken up far enough down where I couldn’t even see him through the crowded Amazon Cafe.
Lesson #2: NONE of it is in your control. Learn to sit in your oasis and enjoy the great things that happen as an author and to chuckle at the horrible things. To live outside the oasis is to join a heat-maddened, meandering caravan of 1-star review grumpy camels, ranks-stabbing cacti, and delusions of grandeur mirages.
I was riding on a tall white horse until Amazon’s Hot New Release marketing expired on August 20th. It’s like living in Elysium and then being dragged back to a tattered Earth.
Lesson#3: An artist’s ego should come from the quality of his art, not from how many works of art he or she has sold.
Jeff Bennington, bestselling author and one of the pre-reviewers of PELICAN BAY, told me “The best way to market your book is to work on your next book.” I did not understand this at first, but once you experience the rush of the top 1,000, then the blues of the 20k’s, you realize that the 21st century carries too many authors to put all your time into one book. Even Stephen King could not make a living off of just one book. Also, working on your next book keeps things centered and real. It’s not about the sales, it’s about improving your art and amassing readers.
Lesson#4: The best way to market your book is to work on your next book.
This weekend I’m running another marketing campaign, and soon after that another one. Since I’m not Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling, and I’m no longer a hot new release, if I don’t market, I won’t find any more readers. It’s really that simple.
Lesson#5: Make marketing a permanent extra limb on your body or be prepared to just do it as a hobby. Bestselling author Cheryl Kaye Tardif (also owner of Imajin Books) taught me this, among many other things.
So the journey’s not over. It continues on. I’ve loved the highs and loathed the lows so far, but I’m surviving, and learning. And gosh darn it, I’m a career author now. I know that not because of ranks or royalty checks, but because of the lessons bled above.
Yours in literature,