Happiness Forever in Waiting: A Writing Update

GrumpyI expect never to be happy in my writing.

Never happy with a final draft of a book, never happy about the success (or non-success) of any work, and all together grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. Yup, that’s my dwarf… at least as a writer. Usually, I would consider myself somewhere between Dopey and Doc as an actual person. Of course, Doc can play the organ. I can’t, even though my grandparents had one while I was growing up. It didn’t have birds and all that wooden trickery, but it did have great buttons with options for fun noises…. Okay, I lost my train of thought.

Happiness! Lack of it in writing!

This is all not a bad thing really in my opinion (I have even wrote about this before on this site as a writing lesson here). I’ve trained my brain to always consider the next step, to accept when something is done and immediately begin to think what needs to happen next. Happiness would probably just delay everything else. It is frankly too distracting.

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, CoverI want to begin by thanking all of the eReaders who took advantage of my deal for a free eBook and downloaded a copy of my strange little Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare! It was fun once again to see the numbers come in and watch the book rise and fall on the charts on Amazon.

Thank you! And if you enjoy the book I hope you will consider writing a review of it, telling another reader, or checking out one of my other books. And if you do decide to review it on a site or on a blog, be sure to tell me!

I have to be honest with you, when these free eBook deals take place I never know what happens after a reader clicks on it. Do I really think that hundreds and hundreds of people are reading the book right now? I couldn’t say. It is a nice image to imagine, but it is also distracting, just like happiness.

A few months ago my publisher for A Jane Austen Daydream, Madison Street Publishing, had a similar deal for Daydream. We had over 7000 downloads of the book! And that was over just two  freaking days! If those were sales, they would have put me on any of the charts! But here is the thing, after that there were was some good sales, but I didn’t see a jump in reviews on Amazon or 7000 people saying they are “currently reading” it on Good Reads.

So here is my question- Where do free eBook copies go?

Maybe this is all “off” for me since I don’t own a Kindle. I’ve always been one of those readers who buys a book for one of two simple reasons:

  1. Collecting (a first edition or an autographed copy)
  2. Because I want to read it.

So the idea of stockpiling free eBooks for the possibility of reading in the future (which is one possibility of what happens during these deals) is hard for me to understand. It’s just not how I am wired, I guess.

MaximilianMaximilian continues to be a tricky book for me to figure out. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I love it, but it also makes it hard for me to latch on to the right way to promote it. And the longer I wait to move forward on it, the more I hurt the chances of this book I love.

See, to promote the book to mystery and thriller readers would be disingenuous. It’s very different from what is coming out of publishers today, and, honestly, writers aren’t being experimental anymore in structure. And I knew the SECOND it came out that some would hate it, some might not understand it (which I see in some of the reviews on Good Reads), but there would be some that would get it.

So that’s the trick- how do I market to those specific readers who would get it and like it? I once described the book as the kind I loved to find at a library, with a great cover, dust, and the possibility for anything inside (and this book does do anything). Maybe that is what this book is destined to be and I just can’t think of it as marketing in the normal way? Maybe I have to allow the dust to settle.

It is stuff like this that keeps me up at night.

This Site

On Saturday, which was a busy day for me as a writer, as I tried to convince readers to grab a free copy of Maximilian (I also went out and bought a new bow tie), I got this tweet out of the blue:

 @MonicaValento: @SDSouthard thanks for the inspirational posts. You’ve helped me get to where I am now — just four chapters from finishing my first novel!

Now, I had never spoken to Monica before, and her tweet hit me like a slap. Sometimes when I am doing posts and the like around the blog, the audience is a little… well… invisible, for lack of a better word. It like that illusion when you are on a stage and the spotlights are just so you can’t see the audience, even though you know they are there. Making you feel alone and separated, and yet at the center of everyone’s attention. It is truly an experience unlike no other.

When I started this blog (and I have said this before), I started it for selfish reasons. I wanted to challenge myself, get my writing back into the swing of things after a period of absence. So it began with me writing a post a day. Over time, my confidence returned and I was sharing new fiction, then taking on an entire novel, chapter by chapter on the site. (Which reminds me, I got to get around to editing Permanent Spring Showers and trying to find an agent for it. Hey agents! Any interested parties?)

Then the site changed with the publication of A Jane Austen Daydream. It is still an avenue for my posts of course (which I only do three to two times a week now), but I also use it now to share news about my books (reviews, interviews, etc.). One thing that hasn’t changed though is that the site, in many ways, is still a selfish enterprise since it is only me writing, and usually only about me.  Heck, my name is in the title!

This is kind of a roundabout way of getting back to the tweet, but I want you to understand why such responses to my blog and writing always take my breath away and always surprise me.

Back when I was studying in college, I imagined myself teaching creative writing (with or without a bow tie). Since then I have had the pleasure to work with writers numerous times and have even taught it on the college level, but I never took the leap to think of this site as my classroom. One of the things Rebecca T. Dickson (the editor I am working with in offering my editing services to writers, which you can learn about on this page), is the possibility of turning some of my posts into a collage of writing essays.  This tweet pushes me more towards that idea. Who knows?

See, these things come around. Monica is now inspiring my writing ideas. I’m glad my posts here have helped her chase her dreams!

A Jane Austen Daydream and Next Steps

A Jane Austen DaydreamRemember the thing I said at the beginning about happiness? Well, that is me and A Jane Austen Daydream. Every good review, every happy reader and interview is a wonderful chance for me and the book, but I am not happy. I want this book to find a big audience, and I can’t allow myself to take a breath, because this book, my writing, might not get this chance again.

I’m really proud of that book… even though it is a lot of work.

So if you have read the book, enjoyed it, please consider telling another reader or a book club, sharing it via social media, or writing a review. Every little bit helps.

One of the wonderful things right now is the amount of writing that is going on for me.

Yes, I have to edit—which will probably be pretty light since it is so solid right now—and start contacting possible agents about Permanent Spring Showers. But I am also working on a few different books. Actually, I am fighting between three different ones for my attention. One is done as a draft, another is in outline form (which is being adapted into a more epic structure), and the newest  which is in this wonderful state of… I can’t explain it. It is alive and has so, so much potential. I hope to finish that book, but it feels delicate now and I don’t want to do anything to wreck the possibility of it flowering.

It is all very exciting, sure, but I am not happy.

There is always more to do… Wow, I sound Grumpy.

My Problem With DoorsIf you liked reading this post, why not check out one of my books? I’ve had four novels published in the last few years, A Jane Austen DaydreamMaximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous DareMy Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here, or as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!

Need an editor? Dream of finishing that book but need some help? Learn about my editing services by visiting this page on my site. Or you can contact Rebecca T. Dickson and request to work with me by clicking the image below.

Rebecca T. Dickson, Editor

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6 responses

  1. As authors we all want to develop a readership base, but I think you’ve chosen a much more difficult path by not writing genre fiction. That’s not a criticism, its just a fact. It’s harder for you to identify potential readers who will love your book.

    Finding reviewers is a challenge for everyone and I’ve chosen never to give away my book because let’s face it, very few people actually write reviews.. I have stuck to romance blogs and blog tour to gain reviews and visibility. I think giving a book away can be very effective if it’s the first in a series, but otherwise I don’t see the value.

    I noticed your books are not on Net Galley so if reviews on high profile blogs are what your after you may want to get an account. You can have an a single account or unite with a group of authors to lower your costs. This is something I’ve considered lately.

    Those are just some of my thoughts about your post, but I’m very new to writing and indie publishing so it’s not like I know anything.

  2. My book club is currently going through MSatCotDD, and results thus far have been expectedly polarized. Technically, it’s a sci-fi and fantasy book club, but the hints you’d dropped led me to assume it might be able to squeak by in that direction. Nevertheless, I’d still push it toward mystery, as marketing to a ‘twist’, so to speak, only undermines it. Case in point – I was able to guess what the experimental element of the book was not very far into it, but I would have been happier to have it come as a surprise if I had been anticipating something more traditional.

    Something to think about!

    • Maybe it is just me, but categorizing a book as simply a genre mystery or thriller or whatever sounds… I don’t know… Normal, predictable, average.

      My goal in my books has always been to do something new. True in each book, no matter where the work “begins.” Yea, you might have figured it out, but how was the experience, the journey? Did it feel unique? Was it something outside the norm? If you got it during the special, you must have read it fast. So something there captured your “eye.”

      For me, books are alive. Stories breath. Genres can sometimes make them sound like burgers at McDonalds.

      Sorry, this is a common rant if mine. I’m not a big fan of where our art is these days.

      • Whatever genre you call it on the surface matters so much less than what you actually do with the story, though. Part of the fun of transcending the notions of static categories is subverting expectations, after all! I know it can be hard to take something you’ve put a lot of work and love into and shoehorn it into what can feel like a gross oversimplification, but giving readers a starting point and letting the writing speak for itself will usually come across better than simply flaunting the ‘something new’ angle.

        And, no, I got the book a while back – I only wish I could read that quickly! (But ‘eye’ see what you did there.) (>^-‘)>

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