You probably remember author Charles E. Yallowitz, who’s become a regular visitor to this blog and fast friend. He graciously agreed to a guest post on the things he has learned since self-publishing his first book of his Legends of Windemere series. Take it, Charles!
Stuff I’ve learned since publishing my first book
So, Nicholas and I were talking a while back and I said something that caught his attention. It was a simple comment about stuff I learned since I published my first book of Legends of Windemere back in February of 2013.
I’m gearing up for the 7th book of the series, Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue, and Nicholas suggested I write about what I’ve learned over the last two years — that happen to feel like a decade.
Though I’ve learned a lot, so we’ll see what comes to mind for this list.
1. Be Consistent
A long series inevitably slows down in terms of sales, so a smarter target should be consistency. As long as all of the books are selling, you’re doing good. Now, the reason for this is because of the nature of a series, especially those that go beyond a trilogy. Not everyone continues reading after every book or keeps the same pace. One reader might not like what you did in Book 2, so they stop. Another might start at Book 3, love it, and return to the beginning. You never know the order that people are reading or if they’re going to continue. All an author can do is write a fun story, promote it, and get ready for the next installment.
Unless you have a mind control device, which you could probably buy off Amazon.
2. Don’t expect a review
Outside of your circle of supporters, most people will read your book and move on without reviewing. Authors love reviews, but you have to realize that it’s only a fraction of readers who do this. Is every review special? Yes. Should every review be listened to? No — and I’ll touch on that in a second. My point here is that many times a reviewer is a reader that you hit an emotional button with.
Think about yourself and realize that you tend to only react when something really stirs you in some fashion. This is the case with most reviews, which isn’t a bad thing. You want to get a reaction. Preferably a good one, but you can’t please everybody.
3. Expect suggestions
You’re going to get suggestions on how to make your book ‘better’. Some are great pieces of advice that can fit into your style. Others are basically attempts to make you turn your story into the reader’s favorite book, or an ideal tale that they should probably write themselves. I know that sounds a little mean, but you’re going to get people that try to convince you to write the story their way.
When this happens, you can do one of two things. Thank the person and ignore the suggestion because it would counteract where you’re heading in the story.
Or, thank the person and see if it will fit into what you’re doing or possibly even an alteration of it would work.
It is very important to be polite here because they are taking the time to talk to you. This brings me to #4:
4. It is your story
IT IS YOUR STORY AND ONLY YOU KNOW WHERE IT IS GOING! Never forget this, because passionate readers will try to guess your path and push for their version to be true. You can listen, but always remember that this is the story you came up with and you know where it’s heading. Unless you spew spoilers like a broken fire hydrant on a summer day; then the suggestions might have more weight.
5. Number obsession
You’ll obsess over some numbers as you progress through your blogging/author career. Whether it be blog visits, likes, sales, Amazon rankings, or word counts, you will probably start looking at something to gauge your success.
Here’s the truth: You will always have slow days. Even the big names have moments where they aren’t on a Top 10 list. My suggestion is to always find the positive stat or something that can make you feel like you’re making progress. A big part of being an author is BSing yourself into staying positive even if things aren’t going your way.
6. You need help
You cannot do this alone and helping out other authors isn’t a bad thing. I take a lot of support from the friends I’ve made during this journey. I’ve made some really close friendships here and some of them still hold strong today. These are people I know will help me promote my books and be there if I need help.
Is it my glowing personality? No because I still haven’t changed the lightbulb on the thing since 1995. Seriously though, these connections appear for various reasons.
One of the most important aspects of these relationships is that I help them when they need it. I reblog other authors, volunteer for cover reveals/blog tours when I see the requests, retweet, and lend a hand when I see it.
I noticed last year that this was becoming a less common practice than when I started. Why did this happen? No idea, because I kept chugging along with helping others even when I should have been focusing on my own stuff (I really should write that last paragraph of the book sitting in the other Word window).
7. Have fun!
And I’m back for the finale . . . Need a good final lesson here . . . Kind of came off a little disgruntled in a few of the others . . . Oh, yes: HAVE FUN!
Seriously, this is something that shouldn’t be said, but it has to be screamed from the rooftops. I’ve seen so many authors get obsessed with the numbers, the marketing, flame wars, gossip, and so many other things that they simply stop writing. At the very least, they don’t seem to have the same passion than when they started. Every book is an experiment, every post is a test, and every step takes days of planning.
JUST HAVE FUN AND WRITE YOUR STORIES! Goof off on your blog with an interactive post and show that you’re a human being behind the words. Sure, you shouldn’t get too close because that can just lead to trouble. Yet if you show you’re having fun as an author, it will bring more people to you and make them more inclined to give you a chance. In fact, I would say fun is the most important part of this because it should be around for every piece of the process. From brainstorming to promoting, do it with a runaway smile (Couldn’t resist, Nicholas).
Who is Charles, you say?
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State.
When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day.
‘Legends of Windemere’ is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.