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Two years, 300,000 books: About being scared

Two years, 10 titles, 300,000 books: About being scared

Exactly two years ago tonight, I sat on my couch with my finger hovering over the “Save and Publish” button on KDP. It was so hard to push that button for those first three books. Almost as scary as it had been to type the first words of the first one, ten months earlier—my first fiction ever, and what was I THINKING, to imagine that I could write a book, much less publish it?

But you know what? I did it! I was scared, and I did it anyway. Both things.

It worked out better than I could have imagined. Exactly two years in, and I’ve hit a few milestones:

  • Eleven books written, ten books published (nine novels and a novella). I finally wrote those million words you’re supposed to have written before you publish anything! (Oh, well.)
  • 300,000 books sold or borrowed—as of today! Way to hit a milestone!
  • Four audiobooks completed and another one in the pipeline—the first one of which Audible has submitted to the APA for Audie consideration. (Whew!)
  • A German edition of my first book up for pre-order  (thanks to Amazon Crossing).
  • A contract with Montlake Romance for two books in a brand-new series.

So, all that. [This concludes the “look at me” portion of today’s post.] And every single time, it’s been crazy scary. Starting a new book, pushing “Save and Publish,” hitting that “Pay Now” button for thousands of dollars for that new audiobook, going live and watching the sales and reviews come in. But I’ve done it anyway.

I wrote a post a while back, when KDP asked me for my story for the “Your Voice” section of their newsletter, about What Worked for Me.  I won’t repeat all that here. I just thought I’d say a couple more personal/emotional things, for anybody who might be feeling as scared and anxious as I was two years ago.

(Warning: This is another one of my “hugging” posts. If you don’t need a hug, that’s great. Move along; nothing to see here. :)  )

Celebrate what you’ve done. Do you know how many people dream of writing a book, but never do it? Well, you’ve done it. You have dared to pursue your dream, and then you’ve had the determination and will and sheer stick-to-itiveness to FINISH. That is awesome. However well your books sell or don’t, it’s still awesome.

Follow your heart. You probably started writing because you had a story in your heart and head that only you could tell. Keep telling your story. It may be a breakout hit or it may not, but if it doesn’t light the spark in you, how on earth will it light a spark in your reader? My books weren’t what the market wanted. They’re romance, yes, but they sure aren’t “what’s hot.” (Which is one reason nobody wanted to publish them. “New Zealand rugby romance? Whattt???”) I think they sold because I love New Zealand, because I escaped my life and found a better one, and I wrote about that, and readers could imagine doing that too. I know some people do have success in writing to the market, but I’d still say—write what you love. If nothing else, you’ll have satisfied yourself. And isn’t life too short not to do what you love?

Don’t get too swayed by the doom and gloom. I really hesitated to publish, because at the time, I was reading a bunch of things about how most books don’t sell, the glory days of self-publishing were over and we were in the End Times. (Sound familiar?) It wasn’t true, not for me. KDP Select, which was supposed to be “dead,” worked incredibly well for me, and kept working. So I’d say: Listen and learn, but trust your gut. About your writing, about your marketing. Experiment. Don’t be afraid to fail. Ebooks are forever—you get lots of second chances. And nobody knows what they’re doing in this business. Anyone who says they do is lying or deluded. So—try stuff! When the publishing environment changes, adapt. Ebooks bring more readers to the table all the time, and those readers are hungry for good books. One of those might be yours.

Be nice on the Internet. As Eek the Cat says, “It never hurts to help.” (Right before he gets pounded. Wait. Scratch the Eek reference.) The Internet is forever too. And don’t be afraid to share. You hear so much about people being “slammed” because they posted on an online authors’ forum. It may be true, but people are also HELPED because they posted. I know I have been. It’s given me visibility, and I’ve even made friends. And friends are awesome.

I’ll finish with one of my favorite quotes, from Teddy Roosevelt. I have this on my office wall, because believe me, I get discouraged sometimes too. So did he. So does everyone, unless you’re a sociopath or something, and aren’t you glad you’re not?

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Best of luck, everybody!


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MJ Guidry
MJ Guidry
9 years ago

Great post. Thank you. Sincerely … thank you.

9 years ago

I agree with MJ, Thank you.
I love your books soooo much! I have reread all of them at least 1 time, some as many as 5 or 6 times. The rugby books are my favorites, but the Kincaid siblings are fantastic also. I can’t even choose a favorite character from your books. I love them all soooooo much!
I really do hope you write Kevin and Chloe’s book. (I hope thats not a spoiler for anyone.)
I check your website at least once a week, I’m worried I’ll miss something.
Thanks again!

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