So You Want To Publish

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

About J T Weaver

The author of "Uphill Both Ways," a thought provoking series of stories about life, family, and growing up.
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67 Responses to So You Want To Publish

  1. A helpful post. I didn’t realise that JT. Up to now I’ve included a couple of excerpts from Norman’s memoir but it has prompted me to be more careful in future. Easier with my fiction blog because that’s lots of posts related to my writing. More tricky with memoir because you want to share some of the stories. What at dilemma

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  2. Interesting. I blog and also write for publication, mostly short stories, but also working on a novel. But my blog writing is just as important to me as the stuff I’m seeking to publish. I love the freedom, and the immediate satisfaction of having readers respond to my work. Sometimes I think I should send some of my posts to journals for publication before posting, but I’m just too impatient, and I know I will be more widely read on my blog than in some online or print journal.

    Someday I may gather a few posts into an ebook, but I don’t think I’ll mind removing those posts, because I always have new stuff coming out, and I’m not sure how many readers look back at my old work. Anyway, if you love blogging, I am sure you will come up with a few more stories to print here.

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  3. aliciasunday says:

    Thanks for following my blog about Portugal. What a shame we can’t read all your stories. I don’t have a Kindle or e-reader either. Maybe you could sell on another platform instead of Amazon. If you published with, just for example ‘CreateSpace’ (o.k. they’re owned by Amazon but just an example off the top of my head), you could have a hard copy of your book then it would be around ‘forever’ and not for just as long as Amazon exists or the digital world is replaced by something else – well you know what I’m trying to say. Also, hard copies work better as gifts even though you don’t make as much.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Thanks for stopping by. You can install the Kindle Reader on your computer no matter what kind of computer you have. From my book page, on the right side you’ll find a Free Kindle Reading App. You can install it, then buy any Kindle book you choose (including mine). Perhaps someday I’ll do a paperback but it isn’t scheduled in the near future.

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  4. bananabatman says:

    I started blogging to share my photography, and since my photography can only be described as average, I have no aspiration to publish (for financial gain) any of my work. I don’t think, therefore, that I will fall into the trap that you describe. I have, however, found this post to be very interesting, perhaps reinforcing the fact that there may be more pleasure gained from the fact of sharing your experiences than from actually earning from your efforts. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed it.

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  5. Interesting conundrum. I’ve been posting away on WordPress for the last three years chronicaling life as it unfolds. The idea of publishing has struck me a few times, but I enjoy the lack of structure, rules, and instant gratification that blogging provides.

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  6. Theresa says:

    Congratulations! I’m heading over to amazon…

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  7. ejrunyon says:

    So, do you think you have any aspirations to write fiction not based directly on your life experience?
    That is one way through this ‘to be read/ but I’m publish dilemma.
    Would you like to be walked through the process? You might get three or four posts about of doing the writing of something new, plus one where you post the new short story for your blog readers.
    I’d be more than happy to guide you.toward writing a new short story. Let me know.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      That’s an interesting thought. I really don’t have much of an imagination to support fiction. Sure, I can tell a story, even with some flair if needed, but to make up something out of thin air? Me? Doesn’t really sound like me. Still, I do like challenges and trying new things. I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks.

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  8. yarnspinnerr says:

    Like you I too want to be published …….. may be NO. As a blogger at least some people read me.

    Appreciate the candid this post.

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  9. preachteach says:

    Very inspiring! Congratulations!!

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  10. knitwit56 says:

    Well, when you put it *that* way, you make it sound like a bad thing. Not to make light of your revelation, but you have achieved your goal – to leave these stories for your children. And that is an awesome achievement. My late grandfather was once offered an opportunity to have his adventures with the Naval Academy published, but my grandmother discouraged him from doing it. What a loss!

    As a beginning blogger, I don’t have any aspirations of making money with my writing, but my daughter is an aspiring author and I appreciate your insights. I have to admit that I wish I’d discovered your blog a little earlier – I didn’t get a chance to read the stories before you took them off, but I’m hoping you’ll add at least a few more.

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  11. I caught you at the tail end of this journey but it has intrigued me to find it at Amazon. Congrats on publishing and thanks for the insights. Don’t be discouraged, you’ve got a great talent!

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  12. Oh, that is terrible to hear. But you are right in the fact that at least your children will have all of these memories written down. I am so happy that I got to read so many of them!

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  13. kellieriek says:

    I had my first non self published book come out last week and it’s a great task to get recognition. As you mentioned in your piece, I doubt I will make any money, even though Im putting effort into advertising.

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  14. raloki says:

    Congratulations on the publishing of the book. I have only just started following your blog and only got to read a couple of the stories prior to this one. Both of them impacted me – you have a gift for storytelling and also for expressing it in the written word. I enjoyed this post too, and look forward to many posts in the future.

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  15. bookangel2 says:

    Very interesting musings on to publish or not to publish! Congratulations on “Uphill Both Ways”.

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  16. Very insightful! Congratulations on the fruits of your endeavor! More success!

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  17. Like the rest have said, congratulations, and thanks for the publishing insight, it is ‘who knew?’food for thought. I also can’t help thinking, that your writing days are far from over. I look forward to being back to the beginning with you. All the best!

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  18. Aha! So I don’t have months to catch up on 😉 but not to worry, even this “confessional” was a good read – I’m sure there is more to come (no pressure)! Congratulations on being published 🙂

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  19. mgrmmydiary says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience on publishing. Great insight.
    From a s/w engg to a blogger to an author… quite a remarkable journey. Time to ‘search & research’ and start a fresh chapter. Good luck with the book and future endeavors.

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  20. tchistorygal says:

    JT, this is lovely! How wonderful for you. You are such a success, and I’m glad for you I’m still wallowing around in the aimlessly, sort of. I’m so glad to have been a part of the early reading and enjoying. I have nominated you for an award, and you can come pick it u here, and see the acceptance of your awards at the same time. 🙂 http://wp.me/p2jC53-1D5

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  21. carlisdm says:

    Hi, I kind of felt that you are discouraged by the situation and I understand it. One suggestion could be to write posts that are related to your book´s stories and to add a link for more reading to the site in Amazon. I guess that would do some marketing and you could just quote some parts of your book. This way you will encourage people to buy your book and continue reading your stories and at the same time you can continue writing and interacting with those 1500 blog followers. Just a thought…

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    • J T Weaver says:

      I wouldn’t say discouraged. Disappointed perhaps that I didn’t see this coming. At my age I should know better. I am all set up to do just what you suggest, there’s only one problem. There’s not much gas left in the tank. We’ll see though. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.

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  22. joannaroye says:

    First, I’d like to congratulate you on your book. I must confess, though, that I regret finding your blog late in the game- I would have loved to read a story or two right now!

    At any rate, I appreciate you writing this, as most of the articles and blog-posts I read about publishing a book are saturated with “I can’t wait to get published!!!!” or “You’ll never get published but keep writing anyway, sucker!” It’s refreshing to read something bittersweet about the real priorities of why we write- especially from a writer who is a bit newer to the game (read: hasn’t been publishing thrillers for 20 years).

    I’ve gleaned from the rest of your blog that your writing is very good, so I hope that you at least continue with it- be it free on this blog or in a book in the aether. I wish you the best however you choose to continue your writing career..Thanks for being an uncommon encouragement today.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Thank you very much. If you go to Amazon (click on the cover) you can get the first 5 pages (I think) and then you can borrow it for free. Even if you don’t have a kindle, you can read it on your computer. I hope you enjoy it.

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  23. ksbeth says:

    congrats and enjoy the next phase of your adventure )

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  24. A damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. 😦 … This is why the novel I’m writing will only ever appear as occasional excerpts on my blog. Those are easy enough to remove without undermining the entire blog. … Hope you find something else to write about. You’re a good storyteller. … Be well, Dorothy 🙂

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  25. chistanote says:

    do not worry, 1500 people are interested in your writing so what is worth reading it, probably is worth buying it. i look at this positively, this blog s a door to know a new Author and then check on Amazon, Google, wiki and etc. to learn more who you are. ( sorry if there is structure issues in my sentences). 🙂
    Go0d Luck.

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  26. LindaGHill says:

    So, I guess the moral of the story is, don’t publish what you blog…?
    All I can say is, don’t stop writing!

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    • J T Weaver says:

      The moral of the story is, decide whether you want people to read what you write or do you want to be called an author. Unless you are Dan Brown or JK Rowling it is most likely that you won’t have both.

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  27. marianbeaman says:

    Great post with nice intertwining of personal and practical. And by the way–congratulations!

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  28. I don’t understand #2.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      They require that if you have any part of your book online, it must be removed before they will accept your work for sale. You can have an “excerpt” of course, like they do. I use the Prologue as my ‘About’ page.

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