An Early Reckoning: How My First Self-Published Novel Is Faring

It’s been just over two months since I released Adversaries Together. It’s an epic fantasy adventure novel, swords and sorcery, magic and mythic beasts. The only thing is, my story doesn’t have any magic and doesn’t have any mythic beasts–no wizards, no dragons. As far as swords go, I’ve got very little blood or fighting and even less sex. It’s kinda difficult to sell people on a fantasy book that takes all that out. Still I’ve been plugging away, spending more time than I thought promoting it. Results have been mixed because I am no salesman.

Yet I can’t say that self-publishing was a poor choice. I’m quite happy that the book is available and though not a best-seller by any means, I’m not embarrassed by its sales. Simple fact is, I’ve made more from publishing it than I ever would have just letting it sit in my files. 

The cover for my paperback novel

The paperback cover

I have learned that I need to be more fastidious with the next book in the series, which I’m writing now and hope to make available come early Spring. For the most part, the reception of Adversaries Together has been positive. The only real negative has been a review from Creativity Hacker. I sent along the first edition of the book to the site as part of its “Immerse or Die” feature where the reader sees if he can stay with a novel for a full 40 minutes; my book made it 2 minutes and 24 seconds. Not good by any measure.

But good did come out of it. Firstly, I discovered that the file I uploaded was riddled with typos (more on that in a moment). Over various drafts, I had failed to do a good proofreading job. The fact is, I was mortified. But as the only reader of the book prior to release, it was an honest mistake. Fortunately I’ve since combed over the manuscript to address the errors. Is it perfect? Probably not, but it is better. In the process of doing so, I’ve actually lined up a couple of folks to serve as potential proofreaders for the next book so to avoid this in the future. My only defense is an article I read from Wired, “What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos.

So here is how I fared with Immerse of Die. Good news is that all Book II needs to do is make it the 2:25 mark to be an improvement. Jefferson Smith is a good reader, practical and straight-forward, and I’m glad for his input.

Before the Creativity Hacker review showed up, I discovered the proofing issues with my book when I sent it to the fellow who would be its first reviewer. Andy Peloquin contacted me through Facebook to ask about a review exchange, which I am always up for. His novel will be coming out in March, I believe, so there’s something to look forward to. On his blog, Peloquin has started a fairly regular book reviewing section for genre works, and he graciously included my book as one of his first. Once again, I’ve since updated the manuscript and most of the proofing errors that Peloquin and Smith saw have been corrected. 51GeQjcAzRL._AA160_

The major criticism that I took away from Peloquin’s review is that I need to make readers more invested in my characters. It’s difficult when having several main characters to reach that appropriate level of interest and commitment to each. I’m plan in the subsequent books in the series to focus more specific characters so that readers get to know them more. The thing about Adversaries Together is that it’s the introductory novel, so I felt I had to get the information out first before I could start into the intimate lives of the characters. Peloquin’s review was fair, and I’m quite lucky he gave it the attention he did.

“The various story lines are threaded together quite well, and the political intrigues and machinations are laid out neatly by the author. There is a lot of detail that cannot be found in other books, making it a pretty great read.” —Andy Peloquin on Adversaries Together

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I can’t lie, the first time holding a book you’ve written is pretty damn satisfying

Next came a little help from the community over at Goodreads. My author profile was picked by the group “Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Readers, Writers, and Reviewers” (a mouthful to say to be certain but a group with over three thousand members) to be the featured author from December 22nd to December 28th. Perhaps not the optimal time given the holidays but still, I was very flattered and glad to have been chosen. IT lead to Adversaries Together getting some much welcomed social media attention. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a few more ratings and adds on Goodreads. But a 4.22 average rating is pretty solid, I think. Coming out of that group feature was a short Author Spotlight for Kyra Halland’s site.

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My friend Sue was one of the first to pull the trigger & get my book

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My sister, Mary, got hers around the same time I sent my mom a copy

I also got some love via Facebook from friends and family. These people are good sports for tolerating my embarrassing plugs. I always feel like I’m clogging people’s feeds. It’s a weird thing to have a book–I want people to read it, to buy it, but at the same time I feel really crappy about telling people about it. Self-promotion is not my gift. I find it unseemly. Yet how else are folks going to know about it? It’s a conundrum. Anyway, seeing pics of folks with my book never gets old, I just hope they don’t think me an imbecile after they read it.

The first review of 2015 goes to the site A Drunken Druid’s View, which gave it 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a flattering brief blurb and when I read it really gave me a boost of energy. In fact, he even suggested it be longer. Epic fantasy readers do usually expect 500 pages minimum for a novel. I’ve never been a fan of that kind of length preferring instead a focused 300 or so pages and that is what I’m shooting for in Book II of this series.

Currently, Adversaries Together is averaged out to 4 out of 5 stars (four reviews) on Amazon and 4.22 out of 5 stars (nine ratings and eight reviews) on Goodreads. I’m hoping that some of the ‘to-read’ folks over at Goodreads look on it favorably and actually move it to the ‘currently reading’ or ‘read’ categories. I’m also hoping that a couple of other sites will soon feature the novel.

What are the numbers for the book? Very, very modest to put it kindly. I’ve had two weekends where I made the digital Kindle edition free and between the two weekends the book was downloaded 376 times. Actual sales numbers aren’t as high: there have been 27 paid digital downloads and 21 paperback copies sold. So I can say that probably over 400 people have my book, and I think that’s pretty damn neat. Here’s hoping there’s a few more over the next couple of months and that those folks feel compelled to pick up Book II when it’s ready.

Buy Adversaries Together

Amazon (Kindle & Paperback)

Barnes & Noble (Paperback)

CreateSpace (Paperback)

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