As I'm writing this, I'm high, high on the fact that all 3 SIREN SUICIDES books shot to top 100 books on Amazon in their respective Paranormal & Urban category, #55, #44, and #39 each, the last one surprisingly the highest, although I got more reviews on the first one. Now, I'm still at a loss as to how exactly this whole ranking system works because in the Amazon Best Sellers Rank the books are #1,392, #1,148, and #956 in Free in Kindle Store. So, whatever does this mean? It doesn't seem to mean that my books are in the top 100 (mercy, please, I'm still learning how this works), because it's not the total Amazon number, only the category, as far as I understand, but the number game here is beside the point. I wanted this post to be an encouragement to those of you who are doubting yourself. Because don't. All you have to do it keep writing, reading, and letting those few (because at first it's only very few people who read your work) readers sell your books for you. It's what I did, rowing forward blindly, through fog and rain and hail, writing like mad, giving my books away to anyone who would ask, writing blog posts for anyone who would request it of me, basically, writing, reading, writing, reading, writing, reading every day. And not doing anything else.
Let your readers spread the word for you. This is funny. You know how I learned about my books being so high today on Amazon? Through a tweet from another writer about it. I actually checked the status about 2 weeks ago, and it was very low, like in the 10,000 or something like that, so I didn't pay it much attention. And if not for that tweet, I wouldn't even know. You see, I don't check it obsessively. I don't do many things others people spend their time on. I will get back to this. But, the great part here is, I keep getting these emails from folks asking me about the copyright, if they should copyright their books, if I did, how to protect their work, why am I posting drafts on my site, and stuff like that. Well, no, I did not copyright any of my books and you can even modify them and do whatever you want with them under the Creative Commons License, as long as you don't try selling them. Many people told me I'm crazy, but it's starting to pay off. People picked up my work and shared it. I got these raving reviews and emails from all over the place, from all kinds of folks, all ages, about how much they loved them. You see, my books, SIREN SUICIDES, are very specific. They are about someone who is suicidal. They are very hard to read if you have never experienced such low, never been depressed (though most of us have) so when I get negative reviews, I want to kiss that person, knowing they haven't gone through the shit I've gone through and being happy for them. But those who did, those who loved my books, I want to hug them and hold them and tell them it will be okay. Why would I protect my books in any way? I WANT them to be stolen and shared, as crazy as it sounds. There is always that DONATE button where people can support me if they think my writing is worth their money, but I'm getting carried away here. Let's get back to the original topic.
Don't spend your time on writing queries or hunting publishers. Back when I was writing my first trilogy I was actually thinking about trying to publish my books the traditional way, and so I did a little bit of research on query letters and such, but in the end I didn't do any of it. Actually, 3 agents got interested in what I was writing due to my presence on Twitter, I think back then I had maybe about 40,000 followers or something like that. Anyway, I sent them the manuscript and all 3 said NO. I then contemplated to spend time researching agents and publishers and the like and decided to spend this time to write another book instead, ROSEHEAD, which is currently being edited, so I think I will self-publish end of February or maybe even March, hope not too late. Anyway. Still many people told me I was crazy not to try and pursue this opportunity. And I decided to go full swing and try to write as many books as I can while my money lasted (my savings and a bit of unemployment). Guess what. There must be some tipping point, like Malcolm Gladwell said in his book, and suddenly people started reading my first trilogy. Or maybe it's some Amazon trick and the fact that I made my books free? I'm not sure. But one thing I am sure of it that it takes time for people to read, to talk to each other, and it's more valuable then time spend by your book sitting in an editor's pile, waiting its turn. While your manuscript would be sitting in a few offices where you managed to get it in, my draft, unpublished draft, was downloadable from my site, plus I would email it to anyone who asked for it. The total number of readers BEFORE Siren Suicides was even published clocked at over 300, and those are the ones I kept track of due to emails exchanged. I still don't know how many people downloaded it (can't track it without installing Google analytics on my site and have yet to learn how to do it). I have inadvertently built a reader's base for my book, where as if it sat in the slush pile somewhere, it would've only gathered dust. Many of those first readers later bought the book as it came out and wrote reviews. That's what I mean by not spending your time on writing queries, spend it on writing and post everything you write for people to read. They want it FREE, PERFECT, NOW. (That's what CHEAP, GOOD, FAST used to be).
Do what your readers tell you, they are your customers. My readers would constantly come up with ideas to spread the word about my books. I mean, it's like a free marketing team. Not only do they suggest it, they also do it. They wanted t-shirts with my tweets, I made them. Not many people bought them, but whatever. They wanted me to make a book of my tweets, I made it, and it's actually, funny enough, is #4 in the Writing guides category on Amazon right now. They wanted to start a fan twitter account, I made them a picture they asked me for. They wanted me to make Rosehead t-shirt, I made it. They asked me if they could write a script from SIREN SUICIDES, I said, sure, knock yourself out. Some people asked me if they could feature my books on their sites, I said, of course. Just today I shipped a free copy of the whole trilogy to New York for a prom where my books will be given away at an auction. I mean, I can't even remember all the things people asked me. Oh, people asked me to do dance videos, I did! Most recently somebody asked me to post videos with answers to fan questions. I will do that. Basically, think of it this way. If you are self-publishing, you are a small business. Treat it as such. You are everybody, the creator, the accountant, the designer, the marketer, the shipping facility, all those things. Think about it. You can't possibly do all this stuff, can you? Nope. Let other people do it for you! If your readers offer help, take it! Help them spread the word about you instead of hindering them with copyrights or scaring them off with your impenetrable attitude, like, these are my books, don't touch them, I will do everything myself. You can't! You're not superhuman. This is the beauty of self-publishing revolution. You don't need the middle man anymore, there is only you and your readers.
Okay, if I won't shut up, I will keep writing this post and will get you bored. I'm just so excited right now and I want to share it so bad, want to hold your hand, want to show to you that you can do it too. Please, don't listen to anyone who is trying to stop you. Those people are simply scared, and not for you, but for themselves, projecting their own fears of their failures on you. Hug them, and tell them that you love them and you will write anyway. Just keep writing no matter what. It will happen. I believe in you.