Now the final proofs are in the hands of the publisher. This is another one of those waiting periods that either deeply disturbs me deeply or causes me to continue with the next book. I had thought that the second title would be the end of my Martians until the book became widely well-known. Then I figured there’d be enough media attention to turn the ‘book and sequel’ into a series. I did plan to do it eventually but the publisher said do it right now. I didn’t want to stop at a trilogy, either. I read a trilogy that I really enjoyed in high school, and ended up wishing for more of the story. I decided on a minimum of four books and called it The Martian Symbiont series. Since I’m still writing it I’m still calling it ‘the latest’ scifi series.
For me, this creates a slight problem. I had planned on writing an entirely different novel by now. Then another novel idea came along, then two more. Thank God for computers, because I used to go through reams of paper and lost a lot of ideas. But I can’t help feeling I’m now about six novels behind myself because I just can’t write fast enough.
For me, being self-published takes care of one frustration. Traditional publishers can take up to two years to get a sequel out. I managed to get my second novel out in just over six months after the first one. I might have been able to do the same with the third novel but I was laid off when the store I was managing closed because the owner retired. I searched for a job for three months before becoming a manager of another type of store. That turned out to be a poor fit, so three months after that I opened my own store, The Oasis Mile Gift Center in the Dawson Mall. Meanwhile, I’ve managed to get back into writing.
What I learned last year is that even if my series makes me wealthy, I’ll need to have at least a part-time job or volunteer for something. To be able to focus on one kind of writing all the time seems to take the power out of it. Perhaps that’s only true for me, because otherwise I never have trouble finding the ideas or the words. (Although I’m still looking for another word for ‘gyroscope…’ I think it starts with an ‘m’ and sounds like a piece of military hardware. I should have written it down. If you know what it is please leave a comment, and thank you.)
Having to do most of my own marketing also slows down the writing. While iUniverse does the work of getting my novels listed with Ingram, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc, actually getting people to notice and then buy the novel becomes the author’s job when she’s self-published. There are services you can buy, but so much of it is caveat emptor. It’s up the self-published author to decide which are legitimate and within budget. There are a few I’d like to take advantage of that are simply out of my price range…and after opening my own store, that ‘range’ is practically zero. There are some that I’ve realized by the time I can afford them, I won’t need them. Meanwhile, there’s also a lot of free information out there, where the ‘cost’ becomes spending the time to find it and the effort to figure out how to do it.
Newsletters can be helpful. You are taking advantage of ‘free’ material, but it’s being provided in the hope that you may eventually put down some money. I ended taking an online course last summer (that I thought I ‘couldn’t afford’) partly because the guy gave me some of his material for free and partly because I realized it would probably be tax deductable. When I become aware of anyone else who could use that kind of training, guess who I’m going to recommend? Wayne Kelly, the Radio Guy.
Getting back to the third novel, what happens next is that the manuscript is sent to the printer. iUniverse is a Print-On-Demand (POD) publisher. Print runs can be thousands or a low as a single copy. They ask authors to wait for their ‘author copies’ before ordering more, as a final check that everything is okay with the printing process. I went with a different publishing package this time and will only get ten author copies instead of forty. Good thing they’re available online because I’d never be able to keep up with the demand.
I have two advantages that many authors don’t get. First, I live just outside Dawson Creek, BC which is ‘Mile Zero’ of the Alaska Highway. That means a lot of American tourists come through this area during the spring and summer. It’s not hard to sell them a scifi novel written by a local author since it’s not only a book, it’s a souvenir. My other advantage is a naturally outgoing character. Authors often get pegged as withdrawn ‘nerdy’ types who wouldn’t dream of chatting up total strangers. One of my earliest jobs was in tourism, where you ask people where they’re from, where they plan on going, and then tell them how to get to their destination, with perhaps a few stops at local attractions. I loved it.
So when the novel arrives, several copies are already spoken for. Of course the local media get a couple, I keep one, and my most avid readers are breathing down my neck to buy the rest. I’ll have to place the first order before I can even do a book signing.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Phyllis K Twombly