For me, self-publishing was about starting a career in my own terms and timing. I thought I might as well push that boat out into the water, and maybe along the way larger publishers will decide to hop on board; but if they don’t, that’s okay too. I love being at the helm of my own adventure, one that I hope will affect others positively. I feel I should also share that arriving at the point of deciding to publish also meant facing my fears. Writing, for me, is so personal and transparent. I had to believe in myself in order to make my work publilc, even if agents and publishers had turned me away.
After the daunting undertaking of publishing Roeing Oaks, I excitedly awaited sales to shoot up like summer weeds. I’d told all my friends and family about my book and announced it on Facebook, where I have a couple of hundred acquaintances. They would be my launching pad. I had no doubt many of them would rush to purchase a copy, and of course after they read it they would tell all their friends and they would all buy a copy too. It would be like a wonderful, contractible virus. Well, one can fantasize.
Outside of a few initial sales (thanks to Mom and a couple close friends) my sales figures stayed low for several weeks. I could not understand it. In my mind, if someone I knew wrote and published a book, I would be excited to buy it. I felt cast aside, but it wasn’t that they didn’t care. For some, it took a while to warm up to the idea of me as a certifiable author, and others just don’t like historical novels.
I got all kinds of responses from friends and family members, from, I’d love to read it but I don’t buy books, to I’m so happy for you, but no thanks, even, I can’t wait to borrow it from so and so. Most of the family expected a free, autographed copy of Roeing Oaks, and I ended up giving quite a few as Christmas presents. One of them lent her copy out to several friends and neighbors. People were reading it but not buying it.
I learned quickly not to be concerned so much with sales figures, but to be happy that my book was being read and appreciated, and I had to get comfortable with the fact in some instances promoting the book also meant giving it away.
After sales grew and responses started coming in, the general consensus about the book was overwhelmingly positive, and I was told over and again it was a page turner. My readers, people I knew or didn’t, became passionately attached to my characters. That was the biggest compliment. It made me feel like I did the right thing embarking on this journey; I’d written something worth reading.
One of first things I did to promote my work was to ask for reviews through book review blogs. Some don’t accept self-published material for review, but the Historical Novel Reviews did. This is how I met Lisa. She was responsible for my first review, and it was glowing! She even asked for an interview, which excited me immensely. I went on to get other reviews, and hopefully there will be more to come.
http://dutchovendiary.blogspot.com/, which aside from being a great creative outlet, I can use to cross-promote my writing.
Thank you, Lisa, for the opportunity to share some of my story! It’s been a privilege.