It's funny what people think writers actually do. Not all writers are able to write full time. While that is the dream of most authors, it is not the reality unless you have a name like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, for example. Even those high-profile authors had to start somewhere.
After I published my first book, I suddenly had all these people around me telling me about the stories they were writing. I had no clue any of them were aspiring writers! They were closet writers, like I had been. They wrote when they could, sometimes going weeks, months, or even years between writing. This was exactly how I had been! Only my family, and friends who had known me for years, knew the truth about my love for writing. I had kept it hidden.
Why? I'd been writing since 10 years old, but I'd been too afraid to put myself out there for the world. Sure, I'd entered some short story contests, and I'd done well in every one I entered, but I didn't tell people about it. I sent off a few short stories to magazines, and received my rejection letters very quietly, alone. Then one day, I pulled out an old story I had started five years prior. Why hadn't I finished it?
Writing had always been my dream. It was something I loved to do, but I didn't share my stories, my passion. So, I decided I would finish a full-length novel. I spent three months straight writing.
The more I wrote, the faster I got.
The more I wrote, the more confidence I had.
The more I wrote, the HAPPIER I WAS!
Then I finished book 1, with an entire series floating on my brain (and on a thousand sticky notes). After writing came the hard parts. Editing, cover design, marketing, publishing, etc. All of that took another three months. Then I still had fear holding me down. My book was done, but had my closest family and friends read it? No. I wanted them to read it first, but at the same time I didn't. What if even my family didn't like it? Even though I knew I was going about it all wrong, I decided to just click publish. Quietly. Secretly. Then I promptly ignored it for 24 hours. Fear held me back, again. After a full 24 hours, I looked on Amazon and I already had a review. A random person saw my book, downloaded it, read it, and reviewed it all in one day! And they liked it! Confidence level high, I made my Facebook author page, website, Twitter, etc. and told everyone!
Now when other aspiring authors come to me, I feel like I have some wisdom to share. I certainly have a lot more to learn, and I've made plenty of mistakes on this writing/publishing journey, but I will help how I can.
One of my favorite quotes is "Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game" by Babe Ruth. I've loved this quote since I heard it, but it didn't really sink in until I applied it to myself, and writing.
Write often, and set goals for yourself. Stick to your goals. Finish your writing project, whether its a short story, poem, or full-length novel, finish it. Then edit. And most importantly, let others read it!
While others are reading your stories, READ a lot of books! Write reviews- because authors thrive on them! Be honest and be helpful. Then write some more! And above all, have FUN!
To use Kindle Unlimited, or not?
I've read so many different takes on utilizing Kindle Unlimited. For my first book, Bloody Beginnings, I decided to enroll right away. For those who don't know, Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon program. For a monthly fee, people enrolled in the program can borrow enrolled books for free. Since it was my first book, I thought I should try it out to potentially reach more users.
You must sign up for 90 day periods, and here's the real catch... You can't sell your e-book on any other markets. You must be exclusive through Amazon.
As with any program, there are good things, and bad.
Sales- You have the option, during each 90 day enrollment period, to put your book "on sale", utilizing the Kindle Countdown Deals. This puts your book in an extra search engine, for those looking for these deals. During my first 90 day period, I utilized this, making my book $0.99 for the full 7 days. My results were less than satisfactory. While I did have a good jump the first day, my sales trickled in the rest of the time.
During my next 90 days, I decided to try the Free listing. You can pick any five days during your 90 day period to put your book free. The first time I made my book free, I had a HUGE jump! I didn't do any advertising outside of Twitter and my website, but the results were fantastic. I reached the best-seller's list for Paranormal Fantasy (top 100 free). Even after the sale ended, I had quite a few paying sales, but after a few days it trickled off once more.
A few weeks later, I tried the free day again. Sales were minimal. I did two more days, consecutively this time, and sales were slightly larger, but still nowhere near what they were that first time.
Part of the problem with the free days, is that your book leaves the paid category to go to the free category. When that happens, your sales rank drop drastically.
I'm coming to the end of my 90 day enrollment period, and I think it's time for me to branch out beyond Amazon. Amazon recently changed their structure with KU, and I find it fascinating seeing how many pages of my book were read instead of how many books were downloaded, but it isn't enough to keep me in the program. What am I missing by not having my book available for Nook or iTunes? With my second book coming out in August, I think this is the perfect time to branch out. Who knows what my results will be, but I don't want to be stuck solely on Amazon. If Amazon decided to change the rules, and get rid of the exclusivity clause, I would likely enroll in KU once again. Things are constantly changing in the publishing world, so there is bound to be something new and exciting to try in the future.
When I started this writing adventure, I had no idea all the other things it would entail. I am constantly learning, and trying to evolve with this ever-changing market. I'm just trying to keep up!
It's been an exciting summer so far! My second book in the Isabella Howerton series, Bloody Consequences, is now available for pre-order! Release date is August 17, 2015!
Keep watching here for updates, contests and events coming soon! If you want the first scoop, be sure to subscribe to my blog by clicking the RSS feed to the right, or sign up for my Newsletter (see Contact).
Thank you to all of my readers! I love to write, but it's so much better to have an audience to write for! Every time I get a new review, I feel like a kid at Christmas! Thanks again, and feel free to contact me via email, Facebook or Twitter! I'd love to hear from you.