It’s been a while, so I thought I should stop back in and bring everyone up to speed on what my life has been like since the publishing of my debut novel… let’s see… to get this just right… incredible.
I should start by telling everyone that the above word, “incredible,” does not mean I am rolling in the most awesome payday ever. Nor does it mean that I’ve gotten into major bookstores, nor that I’ve gotten a huge review from a well known source. Because none of those things have happened. What *has* happened is a ton of learning, discovering, and finding out that the community where I live is kick-ass.
First – the learning and discovering. This whole experience has held a steep learning curve on both the book prep side, as well as the publishing side. I’ve found out how many local bookstores detest CreateSpace and won’t even look at you if you use them, as well as the others that are happy to consign for about 40% of the earnings. I’ve found out that when I started up my publishing company, I ceased to be a “self published” author, but was an “Indie Published” author (much snazzier ring to it, if you ask me). I’ve learned that as soon as I exhaled the last breath of the writing side, I had to inhale the promotion side, then exhale the brand new outline for my next book (yep – it doesn’t stop if you want to have a hope and a prayer of making money at this job). I learned that the worst thing you can do is not ask people for help, that often you’ll find it in the most amazing and unexpected places.
Second – the community. I can’t begin to describe what this has been like. For the first month I had my novel out, I sold 29 total copies. Now, don’t get me wrong, for a nobody newbie like myself, that was a flashy number! Then came April and I sold 10. About this time I’m starting to sweat. All my friends, family, and acquaintances had bought their copies. Some sales came in from unexpected places, which was great… but my heart was beginning to sink a little bit. [As an aside, that was about the time I decided to look at this first book as a learning experience and start work on the second – not worrying about the first anymore. Not that I disowned it, but I wouldn’t keep hanging my daily well-being on whether or not anyone noticed me.]
Now we get to May, and the opening day of the Rail Yards Market here in Albuquerque. Well, I was too late to get my own space – vendors had taken up every available spot. The organizer suggested I contact Downtown Books and see if they’d share space with me… It took me two whole days to get the courage to write the owner of the shop. (I’m a little introverted writer, this was huge to me!) I debated on whether or not to do it, I chewed my fingernails off, I ate nearly an entire bag of potato chips… then I realized that this Market was set in the SAME location as my novel. If I didn’t do this, I would kick myself for life… and that’s when magic happened.
I contacted Scott and asked, and he was more gungho about inviting me down than I ever thought possible. I told him – “I only have 18 copies. I doubt I’ll sell any, but I’ll try and I’ll help bring people into the booth.” I gathered my things that Sunday morning – two tray tables, a sign I had made the night prior, a printout of my 5 little Amazon reviews, a handful of bookmarks – and walked up to the Market. I literally said out loud, “I hope this is worth it…” I proceeded to sell all the copies within 3.5 hours. My first sale was within the first five minutes of sitting down… I kid you not.
I was invited back the following Sunday, so with fresh copies, I proceeded to sell 14 more. Folks came up and talked to me, questioned me, chatted with me… I had a woman come back who had bought a copy the prior week and give me a huge hug to tell me how much it touched her. I had a Native American man tell me he didn’t really enjoy reading, only to ask me after he looked through it if I would be willing to trade him art for art. (I got myself some beautiful pottery for my story and a money making ceremony.) I had another woman walk up and look at the back of the book to tell me it sounded really good, then find out she’s from another bookstore I’d been trying to get into. She took copies for consignment on the spot.
So far, for May, I’ve sold 31 copies. I have to tell you, that alone is humbling. It’s amazing to know that my community is so incredibly supportive to a little writer behind her tiny tables. I’ve had people tell me they were inspired, I’ve had people ask advice, I’ve had people skeptical of my self-published ways (ah, ahem, Indie Published ways), only to turn around and buy a book when they hear what I have to say. I’ve had conversations with folks about fonts, typesetting, layout, cover design, politics, homelessness, and the love of pets… this is what I mean by “incredible.”
May has been magic. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had hiccups and blunders along the way (like getting an ISBN before I had my publishing house only to forget to change the imprint to the company name – I’m working on fixing that now), and have felt sometimes like I put all the work into something that no one will see… then the following: One man walked up, a self-professed book nerd, and picked up my book talking about how he knew who published it, he recognized the great work, the font, the layout… with pride, I told him I did it all myself.
I have a long road ahead of me, but I am so delightedly happy to be at the start of what I hope is a long, long career into sharing stories. I’m not rich, and I’m still learning (and I always will be), but man… there is nothing that has come close to this dream, and I’m only at the starting line and it’s going to be an amazing journey… I can feel it.
“Carla’s Rivet” is available through Amazon (SC), Amazon (Kindle), Lulu (HC), Lulu (PDF), B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, and Scribd. Please feel free to join my page on Facebook and sign up for my newsletter for information and deals! If you’re interested in getting your own signed copy, click here!