So, my first novel is out (did you hear? No? Well go out and buy it!). This, being a new experience for me, has also brought with it a bunch of unusual lessons I wasn’t really expecting. In the interest of forewarning others, I will now take you on a tour of my neuroses.
Lesson #1: Having a Book For Sale Is More Stressful Than Selling a Book
Like, 2000% more stressful. Rejection from publishers, while moderately painful, is way less worrisome than if the entire world decides it hates your book. With publishers, there’s always others, right? If they don’t like it, you can always self-publish! Who cares what those New York fat-cats think!
The thing I forgot (and that maybe a lot of writers seem to forget) is that the audience to which the book deal will grant you access is not guaranteed to like your book. So, there I was, on release day, sitting there with a case of the shakes because I was pretty sure the only people who would read and like my book were my friends and family, and at least some percentage of those people would lie about it because they love me and don’t want to hurt my feelings.
Lesson #2: There Is No Upper Limit To How Much You Can Stalk Yourself
Like, hours and hours, easily. I have been swinging by Amazon and Goodreads and Barnes and Noble so damned often that it was reaching a kind of mania. It was: “Do I have any reviews? No?” (five minutes pass) “Do I have any reviews? No?” (five minutes pass). Never have I wished I didn’t have a smart phone more.
As an addendum to this rule, I’m not really sure how you can’t look at your reviews. Like, I have honestly no idea. Sure, I can deal with them (I’ve only received one bad review so far, and that person somehow read the book before it was for sale but wasn’t given it for review, so…shady, is what I mean. Of course they’re entitled to their opinion, but…you know what? I’ll shut up now.). But not looking at them at all is pretty much beyond my willpower’s capacity. Like Pandora, I’ve gotta open the box.
Lesson #3: Analyzing Amazon Ranking is Bad For Your Health
As of this precise moment, THE IRON RING is ranked 76,698th on Amazon. On the one hand, considering that there are probably millions of books on Amazon, this isn’t all that bad. On the other hand, I am forced to reconcile the fact that 76,997 books are selling better than mine. In other words, more people than could fit inside the Superdome have books out that are better appreciated than my own. For somebody who has a pretty intense competitive streak, that is frankly driving me bonkers.
Look, I know it’s irrational – those numbers are more representational than they are actual and they fluctuated by the tens of thousands every hour, so what do they really mean, anyway? Besides, the book just came out 13 days ago, so I should cut myself some slack. Of course, much like reviews, I can’t not look, so there I am again, wondering what magical publicity button I can push to make it down at least into the four-digit realm. Then, of course, this sets off a spate of Impostor Syndrome and all kinds of other stupid senses of inadequacy that are really bad for me. I have to cut it out.
The fact is that I don’t know how well the book is selling, nor will I know until I receive my first royalty check. I’m doing everything I can to help sales (and still keep up with my other job), so I shouldn’t be down on myself. I’ve accomplished something pretty amazing here – I have to admit that. Of course, being me, I want to do better than just that. As with all things I do, I’m not in it just to play, I’m in it to win. Of course, once you “win” in anything, there is just another, bigger contest beyond the rise. That’s the nature of writing – first you try to write a book, then you try to write a good book, then you try to get a book deal, then you try to actually make money, then you try to make enough money to just write for a living. It never stops.
It is important to remember that, if you’re a writer, you can’t get into this race and expect to just win and then stop. You should be in this race because you like running.
Some of you may remember when I hinted something big is in the works for me way back in March. Well, I’ve finally been given clearance to talk about it:
I have been offered, and have accepted, a 3-book deal with HarperVoyager to publish The Oldest Trick, my novel set in my fantasy world of Alandar and featuring Tyvian Reldamar. A little blurb about the book:
Almost three decades ago, the Battle of Calassa ended the ambitions of the wizard-dictator Banric Sahand. The war changed the world; sorcery, once the exclusive province of the Arcanostrum of Saldor, began to filter its way out into the hands of the common people. Though tightly regulated, the harnessing of the High Arts brought about a renaissance of practical magecraft, enhancing everything from transportation to health to communication, not to mention crime.
Enter Tyvian Reldamar — Arcanostrum drop-out, smuggler, and impeccable dresser. He’s just been betrayed by his longtime partner (naturally) and left for dead in a freezing river (as is customary). The one hiccup is this: some fool has affixed a magical ring to his finger that won’t let him ‘do evil’, whatever that means. To get even, Tyvian will have to use every dirty trick in the book to combat this ridiculous magical albatross, all the while drawing himself deeper and deeper into a vast conspiracy at the center of which is none other than old Banric Sahand himself. Faced with enemies on all sides and only the grubbiest of allies beside him, Tyvian will discover (with the ring’s help) that maybe—just maybe—he isn’t quite the evil villain he’s always thought himself to be.
The first book – The Oldest Trick – is to be serialized into two volumes (parts 1 and 2) while the third book, tentatively titled All That Glitters, will track Tyvian’s continuing adventures. Release for part one will likely be in February, 2015. This is a digital-only release with only a limited print run associated with the books, but it is extremely exciting for me and the culmination of a life-long dream and ambition. My heartfelt thanks to the good folks over at Harper Voyager for giving me this opportunity.
Here is a copy of the press release:
(not to quibble, but I won second place in the Writers of the Future. I mean, I still won, but they make it sound like I won the whole enchilada, which isn’t strictly true. This makes for better marketing copy, though, so far be it from me to complain!)
Thanks to all of you out there who have encouraged me, listened to me, and been kind enough to read what I’ve written over the years. Now, if you’ll just follow me a bit further, I promise to take us on an adventure we won’t soon forget.
P.S.: I will be certain to make lots and LOTS of noise about this when it is released, so don’t worry about missing it. Watch this space!