I’m very new at this. In 6 months, I’ve gone from never having written anything at all to being a published author. It just shows what is possible in our modern world. I’ve gone from complete ignorance of the literary arts to at least a working knowledge of the anatomy of a book. It’s been a whirlwind education that is contrary to anything I’ve ever done in my working life. While I’ve learned so much about the technical aspects of writing and publishing, I’ve also learned about the realities of book selling, marketing, and distribution.
I spent my career in Computer Science and Software Engineering. Over the years I became adept in the art of metrics analysis, how they can be interpreted, and what numbers can do for you. Naturally, I look at patterns in life and almost automatically see how events are unfolding; good or bad. For 6 months I have written stories in WordPress and now, as a published author of those stories, I am required to remove them from WordPress. Here are some thoughts and observations of those events that I would like to share.
During February, March, and April of 2013 I wrote whatever came into my head. I wrote aimlessly on a wide variety of subjects including political essays, family stories, dramatic stories, and humorous stories. During that period, I averaged 3 visitors and 8 views per day. Almost no one bothered to comment or to ‘like’, but I was having a good time meeting people and learning how to write. Then, in the last week of April I had a long and pivotal conversation with my wife and my best friend John about what I was writing. From that discussion came my decision to concentrate my writing of an anecdotal memoir.
In addition, during this period I learned that people don’t want to read about my history since I’ve won no medals or rescued any movie stars from certain death. What they want is to live my history and to identify with what I’ve done in as intimate a way as possible. From this I wrote my ‘About’ page, which 5182 of you have read, commented, and liked. This page set the stage for what I was trying to do. I then began to fill in all those experiences I had into one intimate story. That’s when everything changed.
In the 80 days since that pivotal conversation, I’ve averaged 51 visitors and 161 views per day. That’s a 1700% increase in visitors and a 2000% increase in views! Of those 51 visitors per day, 21 each day decided to follow me. By any measure, my efforts were met with great success. I wanted to write something for my children and, at the same time, get my story out into the world for people to enjoy. Judging from your comments and reactions, enjoy it you have. Then everything changed again.
The ultimate prize for every writer is to be published. It’s really the only thing I ever hear non-published writers talk about. If you are writing well enough that people are actually reading it, then without any hesitation, you should publish your work so that the entire world can enjoy what you’ve written. To be honest, I had not thought of publishing. I had written what I wanted to write and it was being read at an alarming rate by readers in 112 countries. The only award that eluded me was ‘Freshly Pressed’, but I was doing some serious smiling every day. However, your advice and encouragement to publish continued and, again after some long conversations, I decided to proceed with publishing. After a month of grueling agony that included editing, formatting, and did I mention editing(?), I am now published and “Uphill Both Ways” is a reality as an e-book on Amazon.
I can now walk the streets proudly knowing that I’m not just a writer, I’m an author! But let’s take a look at what has happened shall we?
- In my first day as an author, my book was ranked #47,375. Since ranking by Amazon is based on sales/day, and since Amazon has roughly 5,000,000 books, I was ranked in the top 1%. Are you kidding? Top 1%? I had sold 5 books. What that told me was 99% of all those published books on Amazon are selling at a lower rate than 5 books per day.
- The first Amazon requirement is that the author must remove any written material from public view before it can be sold as a published work. This makes sense to me and I didn’t really want to compete against myself, as strange as that sounds.
- Since I published my book, about 1500 people have visited my blog and now have nothing to read. These are 1500 people who could have enjoyed a story or two, perhaps even more than that. Instead, they walked away with nothing but the hope that I will write something new that they can enjoy. In that same time period, there are 10 people, 9 in the US and 1 in England who can read my stories.
I feel awful about this. At least for now, there are 1500 people a week who will be drawn to my blog by reputation or recommendation and be left with very little to read. I have committed the deadly sin of Pride and now I feel terrible. I guess congratulations are due to all of us. Together we have taken 45 beautiful stories away from the public view. Good job, JT, good job!
So you’re a writer and you want to be published. It’s been your goal since you were little to see your name on the cover of a book. Truly, that’s a wonderful thing. But what is your real goal? Are you interested in your name in lights or are you interested in people reading what you have to say? Surly you’re not interested in making any money with your publication, right? Less than 1/10% of all authors actually make anything at all on their beloved creations. Is it possible that I may be the next J.D. Salinger? Sure it is, but my little bit of work is no “Catcher in the Rye” or even “Franny and Zooey.” It is damned unlikely that I will make anything with this work, and now I have removed it from your view. At least my children will have this work forever. Nice job JT, nice damn job!
© J T Weaver