Thursday 14 July 2011

Self-Publishing Successes

Near Durban, in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province, there is a region called the Valley of 1000 Hills.  From the bloody tyranny of King Shaka’s military genius as, immediately after his coronation in 1816, he set about subjugating all the different clans in the region, to the endurance and courage of the men and women who annually participate in the world-famous Comrades Marathon, this region has lifted its people to the heights of glory and then dropped them into the valleys of despair. Thus, the mystique of this region lies in its ability to seduce one with both its breath-taking beauty and its lurking dangers.

Six of Fire: Success
Osho Zen Tarot
When I leapt like The Fool into self-publishing, I knew I was taking a leap into an unknown world, full of both possibilities and risks.  At times I felt as if I had a tiger by the tail. There was the challenge of dealing with the unexpected; the fear of inexperience and, at times, the feeling of being on top of the world when I briefly tamed the tiger.

I had two concrete goals when I started this journey: to brand myself and to break even financially. I could spend this post detailing all the ways I met the first goal and the long way I have to go before I meet the second.

But, instead, my conversations with the visitors who commented on the posts about the mistakes I made, have had an enlightening effect.

The successes I had over the past few months happened by chance. Who would’ve guessed that the making of my book trailer would have been so well received?  I’d never done anything like it before, so it could equally have been a flop.

The failures I had also happened by chance. Who could have predicted my launch campaign would be a lead balloon? It could equally have taken flight.

And, as the intangible mystique of the Valley of 1000 Hills has been forged from aeons of both glorious victories and bloody losses, so the real success in this self-publishing venture can’t be quantified into lists of what I did wrong and what I did right.

This trial, this test that has been the last six months of my writing journey, has been a turning point.  I have not yet reached my destination as a writer. I don’t even know what or where that destination is.

But I do know this: my success lies deep within me. I am free. I am content. I am where I want to be: a Published Author.


Ann Summerville said...

Judy, I don't think you can clarify anything as a failure (lead balloon) as it takes time to develop. Not all efforts show immediate progress. Sometimes it takes a while to find out that you are on the right path. Do what you love, enjoy the journey, meet new people. Everything else will fall into place.


Linda Cassidy Lewis said...

Fabulous spirit! You have branded yourself a success, and that is most important.

But I agree with Ann, that you can't write off the success of your launch yet.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

ANN: Yes, that's exactly it - it's about the journey and enjoying it, not counting what happens as a "success" or "failure." I think writing this series helped me clarify that in my own mind and really helped me accept the concept that being an author is more about a path we choose than what lies at the end of the path.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

LINDA: I keep on telling myself that patience is a virtue - and after yesterday's post (and the idea that it takes 3-5 books for an author to find a fan base) I'm looking ahead now, and letting this book go (at last!)

Kiru Taye said...

Hear Hear! I'm glad you arrived at that conclusion, Judy. I'm proud of you. Well done.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

KIRU: Thanks for your support and cheer-leading...any journey is so much easier when it's shared! :)

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Did I ever tell you that the entire week of my blog tour that I had NOT ONE FREAKING SALE? NOT. ONE.

Prior to that I was getting several sales a day. Then a whole week. Nothing. It was so strange. I still haven't figure it out.

Still, I don't count it as a failure because there were so many other good things that came out of it. I sure learned a lot, that's for sure!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

OK, I used "sure" way too many times. :)

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

MICHELLE: Good heavens! That is weird. You'd think with the effort you put into your book blog tour, your sales would have increased? This sure is a strange business! I suppose that's what makes it exciting!! :)

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Judy, I have a feeling my blog tour for Monarch will be the same kind of thing. I'll bet sales aren't big at all. Not that I think less of my book or anything, but word of mouth sells books, not blog posts and tours and ratings. People handing your book to other people sells YOU as an author, and therefore later books. People reading your book on their Kindle and then telling their mom or sister or brother or dad or best friend about it over lunch is going to sell books. That kind of thing. Then rankings as your book goes higher on Amazon and is more visible, and that's about it. Sigh. It's kind of depressing that no matter what I do, only my book sells itself. Not me. Hah. Money would sell it to get it more visible, but even then, it's a matter of people actually reading it and talking about it that matters most.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

MICHELLE, you are SO right! And yet I don't think you *can't* do the blog tour or the blog posts or whatever, because although they can't be correlated to direct sales I do think that they work in "getting you out there." Yes, the word -of-mouth is what sells the books, but as a kind of background refrain, the blogging and the tours do add value. It's only when the blogging and the marketing stop you from actually writing that their value depreciates (which is where I'm at now - so I'm going to have to cut back and get my nose to the grindstone on the next book!) But, yes, your assessment is spot on!

Bish Denham said...

You jumped off a cliff into unknown waters, you swam against the current, you have helped pave the way for others who will likely follow. (I know they are all cliches but who cares?)

You go girl! (I've signed up for a copy.)

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

BISH: Cliches are cliches because they're such truisms! Hope you win - I'm amazed at how many people have signed up for the print copy. Very exciting!

C. N. Nevets said...

Judy, one problem is that there are a lot of people like me, who intend to purchase and read your book but are procrastinating turkeys.

But your series had been a great nagging reminder that I need to take care of that.

So I just did.

I can't wait to get it now. :)

Marilyn Brant said...

Judy, I can honestly say that this ebook publishing thing was WAY harder and more complicated than I'd imagined...and my imagination is pretty good ;).

I think you've had excellent success with it, actually, in all the areas that count (writing a great book, getting a beautiful and fitting cover designed for it, having it uploaded to all the major retailers without any glaring errors, targeting a group of readers who'll love it, etc.).

But I'm also aware that this avenue takes different skills and at least as much patience as traditional publishing. Nothing at all in this industry happens as fast as we would like, does it?!

Anyway, congrats on all you've accomplished so far, and here's to many more triumphs ahead!

CA Heaven said...

The best way to learn is to try and experience >:)

Cold As Heaven

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Judy .. I downloaded your Smashwords voucher and have been reading Dancing in the Shadows of Love on the screen and I'm completely hooked - your writing is wonderful.

I will post about it - and I have an interesting twist which will I think make the review fun ..

I want to order two copies for friends who have birthdays next month - both who lived in Africa .. so they'll get it and enjoy it.

I love the Six of Fire picture .. appropriate to your Tiger ..

So go .. go .. go .. it will come right and you'll be a success - you're learning so much and are ahead of the curve ..

You know the other bits and bobs you were going to add in .. do you have those still? Can you do something with them ...

I'll be emailing you .. cheers Hilary

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds to me like your successes outweigh the set backs! :)

Elisabeth said...

Hi Judy, I'm here from Cuban's blog, taken by the eloquence of your comment there and now by your writing here.

I'm from Australia and interested to read about your life in South Africa and your writing.

I blog to read and write, and best of all to meet other writers, painters, photographers and the like. I'm very pleased to meet you, Judy.

G. J. Jolly said...

I admire your courage, Judy. It does look like it's turning out well.

septembermom said...

Bravo to Judy!! She's an amazing gifted and published author!!! Your attitude is spot on as Gordon Ramsey would say :)

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Sorry for the delay in replying everyone, have been away. Isn’t it amazing how you can go away for four days and it takes two weeks to catch up the backlog!

NEVETS: LOL, that phrase “nagging reminders” – have you been talking to Husband by any chance?? Athough I prefer the phrase “charming reminders”

MARILYN: Yes, despite all the ‘mistakes’ (which are, after all, where we learn the most) I am actually quite pleased with how it went. It’s been a fabulously exciting adventure! And I agree that traditional and self-publishing require completely different skills. I think that’s why I enjoyed this route – it suits my personality and lifestyle more!

COLD: So true – I’m much better at learning by doing, than learning by reading/studying!

HILARY: So glad the downloading was easy! :) And thanks for ordering the copies for friends – two sales! Yay! And I think I’m upgrading you to Vice-Chair of Cheerleading (my Mom is Cheerleading Chair) !! :)

JEMI: Welcome to the blog – and, yes, at the end I feel this was more a success than not!

ELISABETH: Wonderful to have you here as well! I’ll pop over to visit you when I’m finished here! :) I just love Cuban’s blog – he is incredibly erudite and chooses such interesting topics.

GLYNIS: Well, you know all about courage…

KELLY: haha! Well, I’d rather have a “spot on” from Gordon Ramsey than the other thing he’s famous for saying… :)

C. N. Nevets said...

Yes, "sweet reminders" is much more appropriate. "Nagging" was definitely a very poor word choice. It reflected not the tone or nature of your own reminders so much as my own guilt over having waited to long to order your book.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

NEVETS: No need to feel guilty at all...the way the days fly past, you think you've waited a week and, before you know it, a few weeks have past. I want to know where I can slow time down!! :)

Trish Urquhart said...

I think we could all learn a thing or two from you now! I have to say well done for throwing yourself into the process so thoroughly!