One year ago today, THE COLLECTOR released. I can still remember it clearly. Refreshing Amazon every thirty seconds, searching for my book in Twitter feeds, and obsessing over every detail of the release. It was the first day since I started writing that I took a breath. No one could ever take this away from me. I’d written a book, for better or worse, and it was out there–in bookstores and in readers’ hands.
Today, especially, I can’t help reflecting on the things I’ve learned since then. I’ve had two additional books release, THE LIBERATOR and FIRE & FLOOD, and I’ll have yet another release in a few weeks–THE WARRIOR. I sold a new, two-book deal to Scholastic, had eleven foreign sales come in, and changed agents. I attended conferences, signed books, and rejoiced over reviews (while crying over others).
Above all else, here are the things I’ve learned in my debut year:
1) Learn to Laugh
What used to be my most hurtful reviews, now bring me laughter. My husband and I often read the most creative, hate-filled ones aloud while munching on pizza. Look, people are going to hate your book. Don’t hate them for it. Just laugh. And eat pizza. The pizza is crucial.
2) Attend Book Festivals
Book festivals = awesomeness. Individual book signings = waste of resources (unless your publisher is paying). At festivals, you form bonds with other authors and have a ready-made base of attendees. With out-of-town individual book signings (even those with one or two other authors), you are doing all the work yourself. And you have to ask yourself, would buying an online ad be a better return-on-investment? The answer, for me, is yes.
3) Go Easy on the Swag
Buy 1-2 items. That’s it. Then slowly back away from the “add to cart” button. Any more than 1-2 kinds, and you’re wasting money. What’s more, you may come off as a bit desperate. One caveat is if your book hits a list or becomes wildly popular. Then swag away, baby.
4) Make Contacts
Form bonds with other authors, and be strategic about it. Target authors on your level that’ll push you to write better, and then a few that are out of your league. Those on your level will keep you sane, and those more successful than you will inspire you with their industry insight and annual income. Just be sure you always return the favor for author friends.
5) Compare Year-Over-Year
Know the easiest way to depress yourself? Track your sales, followers, etc. on a monthly basis. Want to make it worse? Track it weekly. Seriously, folks. Publishing is a slow-grow business for many successful authors, so take one year and compare it to the previous one. That’s what will truly show you whether you’re improving.
6) Don’t Be An Asshole
Take time with every reader who contacts you. Respond to emails, respond to Twitter comments, respond to those who approach you at events. In other words, don’t be an arse. Treat every single reader who spent money on your book as gold. Because they are.
7) Be Proud
No matter where you are in the publishing process, be proud. There are many who will never make it as far as you have. Even if you have an unpublished manuscript, be damn proud! Self-pubbed book? Rock it! Indie press? Hells, yeah! NY house? Boom! No matter where you are, be thankful. And be proud.
8) But Not Too Proud
Once you pat yourself on the back, look above you. Find an author you admire, follow their career, and emulate them. Work harder on your stories. Research deeper. Set goals that are unfathomable. Shoot for the stars and realize how far you could go and, for the love of God, eat the pizza.
You can start reading the Dante Walker trilogy on Amazon now! 🙂