Two and a half years of indie publishing

Posted by DJ Chamberlain on Saturday, January 7, 2017 Under: Update

It’s been a couple of years since I last posted here but I haven’t been idle. Most of my efforts have been dedicated to getting new books out and to developing the BSB site. At present, I have four books for sale on Amazon. There are a number of others on my hard drive awaiting edits. There was a fifth book available, The Cult, which has been unpublished. Read on to find out why.

It has been an amazing couple of years. So much has happened. So much has changed. In 2014 I was desperate for a change. I was dealing with some things at work that made me really hate my job. At the same time, I was discovering this whole new thing called indie publishing and realising that here was a way for me to finally achieve my dream. People were using Amazon to sell their self-published ebooks and were making a living doing it. I wanted to be part of that. 

I had a couple of stories that I’d been working on for a while. I figured I could give them a final polish, get some covers, and put them out. People would start buying them, and I wouldn’t have to go looking for a new job.

Well, I released Battle Pits of D’nur in August, and people started buying it. I was shocked. I was ecstatic. I quickly finished The Cult and put it out expecting even more success, after all, it was a better book. It sank without a trace.

I didn’t know why the book wasn’t doing well. I wasn’t talking to anyone who knew anything about what was happening in the American markets. I had no idea how to advertise or market the book. I had no idea about the importance of covers and keywords or any of that. 

The Cult crashed, and so did I. I’d been working really long hours trying to get everything put together, and then to have the book bomb… it destroyed me. I spent the first part of 2015 in a state of depression that was only aggravated by other stuff that was happening around me. My father-in-law died in April, then my brother-in-law drowned while we were all at the beach together in August. I ended up in hospital for a week after getting bitten on the hand by his traumatised cat. 

I had been trying to write a new Reaper Hawk story at the beginning of the year, but everything I started just turned extremely dark and I couldn’t find the inspiration to work on anything like that. I ended up working on several other books, the Tanglewood series, through the end of 2015. 

I had tried rebranding The Cult, retitling it and getting it a new cover that, I thought, better expressed the type of book it was. It didn’t matter though. Nothing I did could make it sell. Eventually, around the end of 2015, I unpublished it. Unfortunately, you can’t ‘unpublish’ print books. 

I was still determined to become a full time author and went looking for information and advice from those people who were doing what I wanted to do and succeeding at it. They spoke about series, about marketing, about branding, about the importance of great covers and good editing. They spoke about email lists, and autoresponders, and Facebook ads. I didn’t know any of that, so I pulled up my socks and started studying. 

Going into 2016, I thought I had a good plan. I had three Tanglewood books written. All I needed to do was revise them, get them edited, and I could use them to follow the advice everyone was telling me. The problem was that one of them was a new version of the Cult, completely revised, but they were all a blend of several genres and fit only in the gaps, which made them unlikely candidates to sell well. 

Then I got some advice that made sense, but also made me reevaluate everything I was doing.

— If you have two books and only one of them is selling, you should write a sequel to that one, not the one that isn’t selling. —

So I went back to the drawing board and pulled out a Reaper Hawk idea that I’d had. I went and wrote that book. I had an idea for another Reaper Hawk book, but it was enormous and ended up getting broken up into ten separate books. I wrote the first two of those and released all three books in 2016. 

Which brings me to now, January 2017. I have plans to publish two more books this year. I’ll be writing three novels and over a dozen shorter pieces, but a lot of that won’t see the light of a screen until 2018 or later. I’ll be putting out the third book in the three-book Reaper Hawk: Origins series. Then, towards the end of the year, will come Monstrous, the second novel in the Reaper Hawk: Undying Saga. 

The last two years didn’t produce a lot of visible results, but I learned a lot, and not just about publishing and marketing. One of the key things I learned about was myself. I suffer from depression. I learned what some of my triggers are, and I learned how to work around them. I now have things in place that will help me cope with all that. 

Looking back on everything, it looks like I was flailing wildly for most of the last two years, and there’s some truth to that. I choose to look at it and see my wild flailing as my attempt to learn to swim. The seas of indie publishing are turbulent, and a lot of people get tumbled in that surf. I leapt in without thought or preparation and I almost drowned. I survived though. I’m still here, and my dream is still the same. One day I will be a full time author. Probably not this year, maybe not the next, but soon. 

In : Update 

Tags: bsb "indie publishing" "reaper hawk" "new books" 
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Meet the scribbler

I'm a writer, editor, indie publisher, and dedicated Magic Spreadsheet user. Originally from Adelaide, Australia, I've been living in Japan since 1995. I've had a life-long interest in writing and in speculative fiction. My first book was published in mid-2014.
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