My Almost Two Years’ Experience as an Author
In December it will be two years since I’ve been published! Wow. I’ve learned so much and feel like I’m still learning. Whether you’re a reader, writer, or both, I want to share with you my experience so far.
My blog has always been dedicated to writing tips and fun posts, but since my website is also about my books now, I can imagine some of you would also enjoy reading about my writing life.
And Gary, my potted plant. Sorry, Gary made me write that.
I’ll save the reason why I chose to self-publish for another blog post and throw you right into the deep end. I published The Chrono Unit (Monday Moody series) in December 2019 and then Prelude to Poison (Maggie’s Murder Mysteries series) in January 2020. I had already finished them both, but I needed some more time with my cover designer for Prelude to Poison. My original plan had been to publish that one first.
The Chrono Unit is a quirky blend of mystery, humour, sci-fi & fantasy, though I suppose if it has to fall under one genre it would be speculative fiction. It was inspired by a daydream I kept having about a portal through which a monster came which had to be fought off by the heroine (and werewolves). That scene didn’t make it into the novel, but a seed was planted. It was also inspired by Jasper Fforde’s the Thursday Next series. Either way, the genre(s) are important for what I’ll share later.
Prelude to Poison is about a bookshop owner/author who can see her fictional character and gets involved in solving a murder. It is a special story. A story I started years ago but has heavily changed since I saw the light. That light came in part by an editor who simply confirmed what I already thought, but I apparently needed that confirmation. I will forever be grateful for that because the origal story (which even had a way worse title) was not as good as it is now. Maybe also something for a later post. This story, just like The Chrono Unit, is part of a series, but Prelude to Poison is a cosy mystery. This is also important for what I’ll share later.
More is Better
I knew straight away I wanted to add the next books in the series so I could start to seriously promote them. You want to do that because you basically only have to promote one book but sell (hopefully) however many there are in the series. Straight away, though, my cosy mystery sold quite well. I had pre-orders straight away (not many) and the first month hit triple digits, whereas that wasn’t the case with The Chrono Unit. I also knew the reason. Prelude to Poison is a cosy mystery. As a fan of that particular genre myself–shocking, I know–I am very much aware that whenever I see a new cosy mystery, I want it. It’s a genre that has a lot of loyal fans and the books themselves follow such a particular structure, you know you usually won’t be disappointed. The Chrono Unit, however, is a bit harder to pin down and therefore also to promote.
I published the second book in the Maggie’s Murder Mysteries series next and then got sidetracked by The Exciting Life of a Minor Character, which is about a minor character in the world where characters are when they’re not performing (being read) in their stories. Characters cannot die there and yet someone is murdered, and she gets involved. When I say I got sidetracked by this story, what I really mean is that it grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until it was done. You don’t want to know how fast I wrote that book and somehow it was very easy. The idea for the book had been on my mind for years, though, and suddenly it was like, ‘hey, how you doin’?’
With The Missing Maid I’ve now published seven books. I had wanted to write more, but something really fun happened that affected the entire world in a bad, bad way. I work as a secondary teacher and during the pandemic, it was a nightmare. It pulled me away from writing and anything creative and I really hated it. It also meant that I had trouble working hard on promoting my stuff, so there were some months I swayed between two digits and triple digits (depending on whether I had actually promoted one of my books).
The awesome thing, though, was that even when I didn’t promote anything, I was still selling! People still found me and wanted to read about my characters’ adventures. Honestly, it motivated me during trying times. And cool things are happening. People are starting to mention how much they loved my books on my Facebook page and even asking me when the next book will be out and I’d even had a month where I had broken my record of most sales. I also reached my personal goal of how much money I wanted to make in my first year and am well on track for my second year, though the corona slump (as I call it) did hurt me a bit. The good thing, though, is that I have found my balance with work and now have the time and energy to give even more than I did before.
I’ve actually started writing down goals and concrete actions that I can undertake in order to achieve those goals and I’ve learned what sites and types of promotions to focus on. Most importantly, I’m having fun doing it and I feel like I’m getting rewarded by actually slowly gathering…dare I say, fans?
I will keep you posted and I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about my journey so far. Happy reading!