I’ve been trying to sell my two books, Rock’n’Roll Suicide viewBook.at/B009XA5SQ4 and Doppelganger viewBook.at/B00B6U64B2 (both on Kindle for 77p) for around 6 months now, and I feel as if I’ve been blundering around in the control cabin of an old steam train, trundling along on an interminable journey that never seems to end.
I started off thinking lower the price – even try doing the free (KDP) offer, just get the first book out there, the more people see it the better my chances of it catching on. And it was rewarding, because lots of people seem to like the first, and the second book , I’m building up good reviews (and one resoundingly bad one that Amazon put right at the top of the am.uk page as a comparison). The reality is though that it seems as if you can only get so far and there’s a kind of ceiling you can’t break through. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve sold very few copies – what’s the point in lying? I’ve heard that lots of other people are seeing low sales too. Whether it’s because of the recession, or maybe there are just so many people out there doing it and there’s such competition I don’t know.
My idea of the Jack Lockwood Diaries http://jacklockwood.wordpress.com/ seemed as if it might be a way of selling the books: I write a short story every now and again, put it on the blog and hope people like it, and be inspired to buy one of the books because they like the character. John Locke’s book (How I sold a million copies on Kindle) gave me this idea of creating a ‘brand’ around a character. And I like doing it – there’s not so much work involved as writing a complete book. But do I have lots of followers? No. I have 11.
But aside from all the effort and enthusiasm, I get the feeling that us independent authors – or maybe a more honest way of putting it is ‘authors who can’t get a publisher or agent’ – are viewed as second class citizens in the publishing world. The successful Dan Browns are out there really doing it, and we are trying this, trying that, helping push each other’s books on twitter. But as writers we are still treated as second class citizens, and it seems sad, when so many independent authors are clever, talented and really good writers. What’s even more relevant is, we are like wanders in a storm: some of us probably need editorial guidance to improve the work, which we’d get if professionally published, but we go ahead and put out our work, and someone ‘in the business’ might easily spot snags that could easily be eradicated and improve the product. But we are all on our own, having a go, like architect, builder’s labourer and planner building an office block, with no rule book to guide us and no one to help.
Of course lots of people are doing it for vanity. Some are doing it purely for fun. But I’m doing it because I like telling stories, I’m sure that if I could only reach a certain type of reader, I could give up my other work and make enough from writing to do it all the time – not a fortune, not riches, just enough to live on. This is probably what we all aim for, and let’s hope some of us achieve it.
A very unexpected thing that had happened in all this ‘adventure’ is meeting via twitter so very many kind, generous, lively and helpful people, who genuinely want to help me and other people by doing nice reviews, offering encouragement and support, and sharing their journeys and experiences. It’s nice to feel that if you’re on a long journey, at least you’re not alone, and I must say the company is the best you could ask for. Like the person (you know who you are) who has spent ages giving me lots of helpful advice and suggestions of what approaches to take, who to follow etc etc, when I was new to it all, and still helps me out if I have a problem. Or the other twitter friend (who I’ve now met and is a ‘real life’ friend) who spent ages telling me about the formatting process, pitfalls and mistakes to avoid. Or the friend who is famous for championing other writers’ work, who produces a newsletter and gives as much help as she can to anyone who needs it, and has helped me particularly. And the many other twitter friends in the UK and in other countries, who offer nice words and praise and make me feel as if people enjoy what I’m doing and it makes it all worthwhile. Following blogs is something I never even knew about but now I do it and it’s very interesting.
The generosity and kindness of twitter active writers is incredible. Other writers want their work to succeed, but it seems that they’re; keen for you to succeed too, there’s no competitive spirit, just mutual support. Many people catch sight of someone who’s doing a free offer and go all out to help them if they can – I certainly do.
So we might all be second class citizens when it comes to the world of professional writing.
But we are in a warm cosy international club.