Thursday, 31 May 2012

Happy Anniversary to me! My indie author journey is one year old today!

Exactly one year ago today I took those first tentative steps into the world of the independent author as my debut novel - the 800+ page epic Hollywood romance, No Matter What, went live on Amazon.  And how did I mark that very special occasion?  By standing in a queue outside Sunderland's Stadium of Light, that's how.

My debut novel - one year on & a sequel is on the way. More sexy Hollywood romance, more hot, handsome men...
Yes, I chose (not deliberately, I just wasn't thinking) the day I was to go see Take That on their Progress Live Tour to launch my debut novel.  So, instead of telling the world that I had a book out there that was just dying to be read, I was sat on the ground outside a football stadium with thousands of other boy band fans discussing the merits of Robbie Williams reappearence and re-living the days when we could do this kind of thing and not feel like we needed three days in bed to get over it!

Sexy rock stars & handsome politicians... yes, in one book! My second crack at edgy, sexy romance.
Anyway, so, one year ago today I became an indie author.  Twelve whole months and four books later, what have I learnt?  Well, you got a few hours?  Because I have learnt so much on a journey that has been both exhausting and enjoyable, stressful yet fun.  A journey that has had more ups and downs than a Blackpool rollercoaster, and that's an understatement!

But, despite the bad days - and there have been a few - I wouldn't change it for the world.  Because every single experience I've encountered has, hopefully, made me a better author, a more rounded person, and somebody who is learning to deal with everything this crazy industry can throw at you.
My first foray into the world of romcom - a story of sun, sea, romance - & darts?!?

So, what exactly have I learnt then?  Well - first and foremost, I've learnt that being an indie author is hard work.  It's extremely hard work.  And it's only now, one year on, that I can look back and see just how naiive I really was when I first started out.  You just don't realise how much work is involved.  Writing the books is such a small part of it all, when you think about it.  As an indie author you have to do all your own marketing, all your own publicity, and for someone like me, someone who finds it very hard to blow my own trumpet, to big myself up, it's not something that comes easy.  I am painfully shy, with not a great deal of self-confidence, so this has been one hell of a learning curve for me.

I've learnt that things take time.  This is most definitely a marathon, not a sprint.  It took months - and I mean, months - for me to start selling books in any kind of significant numbers, and even now I don't think I'll be giving JK Rowling any sleepless nights, but things have certainly picked up a bit over the past couple of months.  But another thing I've learnt is that this is one long haul.  You can never sit back and think, yeah, this is it.  Things are going okay now.  You have to keep yourself out there, keep yourself "seen" because, as an indie author, I suspect we can be forgotten very quickly.  Very quickly indeed.

What would YOU do if you met your pop idol? My second comedy romance, set aboard a cruise ship sailing the Med.

I've learnt not to let bad reviews get to me - actually, okay, I'm still learning on that score.  Bad reviews are all part and parcel of being a writer and, although I've had days when I've read a bad review and just want to hide in a corner, eat countless packets of chocolate HobNobs and give up completely, I'm starting to realise that you just can't avoid it. For the first few months of my indie author journey I got no bad reviews.  Well, to be fair, I hardly got any reviews at all, but as soon as I started selling more, the negative reviews - as well as the good ones - started rolling in!  But, as someone said, the more books you sell, the more negative reviews you're going to receive, it's just the way it is.  So, I'm learning to deal with it.  You can't please everybody but you have to not let people's opinions get to you too much, otherwise it will affect you.  Take it from someone who knows what she's talking about.

I've learnt that you need to get to know others who are going through the same things as you are, people who are on the same journey - other indie authors.  You need to get used to the world of social networking.  You can do this on your own, but it will drive you mad if you try!  Writing can be a lonely experience at the best of times, but just knowing that there are people out there who will give you a kick up the backside if you're feeling down or give you that little bit of encouragement when you need it the most, that's really important.  Believe me.

But, probably the most important thing I've learnt - and I've only really learnt this in the past couple of months - is that, as a writer, you need to write.  Simple as that.  It's why I started this journey in the first place, and it's why I'll continue on this journey, no matter what.  Because, there is no better feeling in the world than when someone tells you they've enjoyed one (or all) of your books.  And I've had so many lovely, lovely people tweet me or message me on Facebook telling me how they enjoyed my books, and how they can't wait for my next one.  And that means the world.  That makes all the down days, all the days when you feel low and don't think it's worth it, that makes it all worthwhile. Those are the people that make me realise I can do this.  I can.  There are some who will hate my books, but there are others who will quite like them, so, as long as those people continue to exist, I shall continue writing.  You have been warned... ;-)

So, here's to another year, more books, more lessons to be learnt, more experiences to, well, experience!  And I'm entering this second year as an indie author with both trepidation and excitement.  I've got a new book coming out soon - a sequel to my debut, No Matter What, a Christmas romance due out at (obviously!) Christmas, and three more books in the planning stages. So, I've got a lot to be getting on with.  A lot of writing is on the horizon, so, if you're one of those people who's been brave enough to sample my books, and you're actually looking forward to more, there's a lot more to come!

Finally, I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who's supported me this past year.  To everyone who's given me those proverbial kicks up the backside when I've needed them, to those who've encouraged me and spurred me on, given me the confidence I needed not to give up and carry on with this.  And, of course, a very, very big thank you to those who have bought, read and enjoyed my books.  Thanks, guys.  Thank you so, so much...


5 comments:

  1. I am so in awe of you, four books in your first year and still going strong. I really don't know how you do it Michelle but you do - Big congratulations on all you've achieved - it's fantastic.

    Sue
    x

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  2. Thank you so much, Sue. :) Three of those four books were already written and just sitting waiting to be published when I started out on this journey though, I have to stress that. I couldn't write four books in a year! But I wish I could! :) It's been a heck of a journey has this past twelve months, but I'm sticking with it. Got enough ideas hanging round for dozens more books yet, so, let's see how far this journey takes me. :)x

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  3. Huge congrats to you Michelle. You have done fantastically well. My anniversary is tomorrow and I couldn't agree more with what you say. We're almost soul-sisters. xxx

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  4. Thank, Amanda. :) Meeting people like you and Sue on this journey has made things a whole lot easier, believe me! And congratulations for your own one year anniversary tomorrow! You too have done amazing over this past twelve months, and long may we continue on this rollercoaster of a journey! Whatever it may bring... And, yes, we most certainly are almost soul-sisters! :) xx

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  5. Wow - sounds like a busy, rollercoaster, fantabulous year! Here's to the next one! x

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