Yesterday, February 22nd, marked the first anniversary of my debut novel, Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl. Over the past twelve months, I’ve finally been able to call myself something I’ve desired since early childhood: a published author. Though I chose the self-publishing route, this year I’ve still been able to experience many author firsts and epiphanies that I’d like to share with you today!
Release Day Blues
*Ahem* Allow me to paint a picture of what release day was like for me… it’s my 23rd birthday, I’m in my final semester of college on lunch break, I’ve just found out I won’t be able to see my boyfriend on my birthday, and despite the 50+ people that liked/commented on my book release announcement on Facebook, CreateSpace is showing NOTHING! Oh, and I’m a heavy-duty overthinker. Mix all that together… and yeah, I cried in my car in the school parking lot. For all you first-time CreateSpace authors out there, the sales don’t update instantly. I was naive/hysterical enough to think they would. Copies of the book sold on its release day… I’m just crazy.
Marketing is Hard
Marketing sucks for the most part when halfway through the year you realize you should’ve started marketing months prior to the book’s release. It’s hard work trying to come up with witty tweets, get engagements on your Facebook posts, or, for the love of George Costanza, get someone to review your book on Goodreads! (Awkward Side Note: I used “For the love of George Costanza” as a replacement for saying God’s name in vain one time and it stuck. I don’t even watch Seinfeld XD .) Writing posts for WordPress though, I kinda love at times. I’m just amazed people actually read these every week.
Local Celebrity Status
If you live in a small town or rural area and people find out you wrote a book, watch out! Soon enough, you’ll be deemed the “local celebrity”, whether or not you’ve sold 50 books total, or even care to have that nickname. You’ll get asked about your book in the most random places. So far, I’ve been asked twice at two different drive thrus by the cashiers (two different towns, no less), and signed books on two separate occasions in a bowling alley. Oh, and another thing: the elderly will adore you. Don’t know if that’s just a side-effect of being a Christian Fiction author, but that’s become a big fanbase.
The Twitter Scene
*My inner monologue* Okay Allyson, act like you’ve been here forever and know what all these hashtags mean. Don’t act like you had to search “What does WIP stand for?” or “What is NaNoWriMo?” Play it cool.
Before Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl‘s release, I’d had Twitter twice before and deleted both accounts because I didn’t understand it. Now I kinda like it, even though I still have to search what some hashtags mean. Plus, the Christian Author community is the best!
Book Cover Blunder
For my first book cover, I made the mistake of creating it myself, with no graphic design knowledge whatsoever. It’s been suggested to me that I should change it up to see if it’ll increase sales, but I’m too attached to the little thing to do that. It’s my first baby. I’m just going to learn from those mistakes and have a more artistic person design the cover for the next novel.
I don’t know how the rest of y’all indie authors feel, but in the first few months after publishing my first book, I was already excited for the next release, though Speak Your Mind was only halfway finished at the time! I guess it’s like eating potato chips, or how some people feel about adopting cats… you’re never satisfied with just one!
The No-Sales Months
*Sniffles* I don’t even want to talk about that mess.
Growing as a Writer
Now, this one I can talk about. Over the past year, God has allowed me to grow more than ever as a writer. He has brought me back to my roots of short stories and poetry for posts on this blog, inspired me to write more often, and instilled hope that one day all this preparation and waiting could lead to a successful author career if it’s in His will for me. I’ve learned that when I begin stressing over author details, the statistics sink and my writing habits suffer, but when I turn to God and let Him take control, things start turning back around. Granted, I’m not selling thousands–or even hundreds–of copies, but I’ve definitely noticed a connection between the two. I’m not meant to handle all this myself. God is the author, I’m His pen and my life is His paper.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in any way this past year! May God bless you all!