When I started my first novel it was with the intention of seeing if I could do it, could I actually write a book. I’d talked about it, I had the story and due to changes in my working life I had the time. Therefore, on top of everything else I had, I now had no excuses. So over about six months I wrote the first draft of that book. I also read as much as I could on writing and one of the things that I read many times (not that it wasn’t obvious) was the need for revision after revision after revision. And that’s what I did until I got to the stage where I felt I was going round in circles. I then paid for professional advice, which was very helpful and I embarked on a new round of editing and revising until I had something I thought just might be good enough.
So what now? My dream (I guess like many authors) was traditional publication and an advance on that next book etc. etc. Well I sent it off to as many agents as I could find who might be interested in science fiction, the result, some ‘thanks, but no thanks’, if I was lucky.
I put the book aside, perhaps it wasn’t good enough? And concentrated on my second book and went round pretty much the same process with the same result. I did get a few more replies from agents along the lines of ‘a difficult market’, ‘not looking for new authors at this time, good luck’ which was a little better than with the first book, wasn’t it? So what now? Well this was towards the end of 2012 when I guess the self-publishing world was starting to gain some respect. I had given copies of both books to people to read and they all came back and said they had enjoyed them, the stories flowed and that I should put them out there. So then it was more revising, professional proof reading, swot up on how you actually get a book ready for self-publishing and then, well publish, great!
This is where my naivety kicked in. I had a product but with no real idea how to market it. I had concentrated on publishing the book without knowing how I was going to generate sales. I was on some social media (everything I read said that was essential). I did sign up for some free (and one or two low cost) book promotion sites, but it didn’t take a genius to see my books would just be lost in the thousands of others. I thought perhaps if a few people bought the books, they would recommend them to others and then it would just snowball. It didn’t and when I think about it why would it?
For 2015 I have set myself the task of doing better. I will be launching another book, ‘Bleak’ in a few months and perhaps two more by the end of the year/early 2016. So, I need a plan. Great, that’s it I need a plan, but what plan? I have a sci-fi related give-away on my site with the aim of collecting e-mail addresses (much of what I’ve read suggests this is an essential), but that could be going better. I’ve started doing some guest blogs, which bring their own rewards. One has been picked up by an iTunes publication, so I’m doing something right. I have a volume of short stories nearly ready to go in which I will include the first two chapters of my book. I’m working on a prequel novella to ‘Bleak’ which I intend to give away. I think these are all good things to do, but it’s not a plan. I am aware this time round that I need to spend some money (I don’t have a huge budget) but the question then becomes getting the best coverage/outcome for that money. It seems to me that it would be easy to fritter what budget I have with little return.
I’ll keep you all posted as I learn and no doubt make a few mistakes along the way. The follow up to this blog is ‘New book launch – learning from past mistakes’. All and any ideas welcome.