This weekend will mark the six month anniversary of the publication of my debut novel, The Exercise Of Vital Powers. A lot has happened in that time (mostly positive I’m pleased to say), but looking back at my first six months as a published author I have no trouble admitting that I embarked upon this independent publishing journey without the faintest idea what I was doing. I self-published my novel pretty much on a whim, with no forethought, content to just learn the ropes as I go. It has definitely been a valuable learning experience, and in hindsight if I knew six months ago what I know now, I would have handled the publication of my first book very differently. But I have no regrets. Sometimes the best way to learn lessons is through experience, and I’ve learned three things that will help me with the launch of every subsequent book I publish in future.
This week I’ve finally been forced to do something that I really wanted to avoid doing, but can no longer justify not doing. I have decided to make my debut novel The Exercise Of Vital Powers an Amazon exclusive by enrolling it in the KDP Select program. If you don’t know what that entails, KDP Select is the means by which Amazon incentivises authors to give them exclusive ebook distribution rights, in exchange for various promotional perks. Choosing to go this route means that authors cannot sell their books via any other marketplaces, be it Apple iBooks or Kobo.
You may recall from the last update on my work in progress that I decided to re-write everything from scratch because I wasn’t happy with the opening chapter. Since then, though I’m much happier about the state of my WIP, I am much less happy about the slow progress of my writing throughout September. While most of the problems that prevented me from getting as much done as I would have liked were (as usual) out of my control, I fully accept that there is one issue that is in my power to affect: Time management.
I have been a Goodreads member since 2013, and every year since 2014 I have participated in the annual Goodreads Reading Challenge, wherein users set themselves a goal for how many books they will read over the course of the year. For various reasons (the principal one being I chose not to include re-read books) I have yet to successfully complete a reading challenge; and progress on my current one isn’t going so well. I am way behind schedule.
There are two pieces of writing advice that I can guarantee every aspiring author received (on numerous occasions) while pursuing their writing ambitions. The first advice is “read a lot,” and the second is “write a lot.” Both are simple, straightforward tips that likely seem so obvious you might wonder why anyone would find it necessary to give such advice. But there is a reason this advice is repeated so frequently; they are both crucial activities in helping writers to perfect their craft. And here are my thoughts as to why this is so.
If you ask a hundred bookworms to identify the most essential ingredient for a must read book, there’s almost no chance you would get unanimous agreement. All readers have differing sentiments that affect what they want and enjoy most in a work of fiction. For many readers there will be one specific box that absolutely needs to be checked in order for a book to be essential reading. For some, pacing is the priority, for others it’s writing style, for some it’s originality, while for others it might be thought-provoking themes and ideas. I’m not going to attempt to provide a definitive answer because there isn’t one. But I will give you my thoughts on what I consider to be the most important constituent of a good story, the absence of which always detracts from my reading pleasure.
During the weekend just gone I came to the realisation that I don’t blog nearly enough; certainly not as much as I should. And though it’s true that in person I am a man of very few words, it’s not as though I don’t have anything worthwhile to say with the written word. To remedy this situation (caused by laziness on my part) I’ve decided to commit to posting updates a minimum of three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If I can keep to that on a regular basis I’ll even consider trying to make it a daily thing (but baby steps first).
It’s been a while since the last update on my current work in progress, principally because it’s been slow going (in more ways than one) these past three weeks or so, resulting in no noteworthy progress to report. However, it’s probably now worth mentioning a very significant development with my WIP (the sequel to The Exercise Of Vital Powers) that occurred at the end of last week which has had a drastic impact upon the direction and progression of the story.
I have recently come to learn that the most rewarding thing for any author, after successfully writing and publishing a book, is the feeling experienced upon discovering that the story you have written has really connected with a reader. This amazing feeling is further magnified when such a reader chooses to share their appreciation for your work with you, and the rest of the world.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better for my SPFBO entry, along comes Kitty G’s video review of The Exercise Of Vital Powers, yesterday. Not only did Kaitlin produce a very complimentary overview of my book, watching the video has actually made me seriously start to believe that it’s a better story than I previously thought. I still don’t think it’s polished enough to progress to the final round, but Kaitlin’s praise has already had a positive effect in terms of increasing interest in my book, as well as causing a spike in sales. In that respect, entering this year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off has definitely paid dividends so I’m really glad to be involved. Anyway, that’s enough waffling from me; you can watch Kaitlin’s review below.