On the curve of learning.


My first self-published novel has been out in cyber space for three days now – Amazon UK and Smashwords. My euphoria (relief) at finally getting it out there has now been replaced with a sense of ominous foreboding. More on that later.

Smashwords allow an author to list their book as free. Amazon do not. I have had an encouraging seventy-seven downloads on Smashwords and, as far as I can tell, zero downloads on Amazon. You do the math.

Now I will. My belief that, as an unknown, giving one’s book away for free is the only way to get people to take a chance on downloading it seems to be a fact. After all, why should people be expected to pay for a book from a total unknown when there are so many out there from good recognised writers for free, or dirt cheap? One could argue that with all the work, time and effort that has gone into one’s creation one should be entitled to ask something in return for giving someone the prospect of a read, but that, sadly, isn’t the way the world works. Not the world of self-publishing, anyway. Face up to that reality.

I’m trying a ruse with Amazon that another author claimed worked for him. It isn’t paying off for me yet, but I’ll keep going with it. Amazon have a link on the listing of any book that they are offering that gives a reader the opportunity to let them know if the book in question is available elsewhere cheaper. They say that they might try to match the price if they learn of it. I’ve told them three times already that my book is free elsewhere in the hope that they will adjust my price to match. I’m still waiting. I really hope that they let it go for free.

So, seventy-seven downloads. At least the cover art is doing its job. I wonder how many of those people are reading it. I wonder what they think of it. Did some give up after a paragraph, a page, a chapter? I wonder if any of them will review it for me. I wonder if any of them will follow the link to this blog that I provided in the book and say something – anything – on the page that I have made available. I live in hope. You see, I just want to know what people think of it. I feel like I’ve prepared a great feast (haha that’s not intended to be a metaphor for my writing) sent out the invitations and now I’m standing at my open front door in my best shirt and trousers waiting to see if anyone will turn up to my party. I have a knot of anxiety in the pit of my stomach because I’m afraid of being overlooked.

I started off wanting to get rich and famous through my writing (no laughing at the back) but I realise now that all I want is feedback on it. Comment. Constructive criticism. Advice. Thought. It’s worth me repeating that I am currently living as an ex-pat in a country where English is not the native language. I have no circle of close friends or work colleagues that I can burden with reading my drafts, edits and final versions. I have had to rely solely on myself for everything and I’m not so arrogant and confident that I think that my writing is without fault. (Please, God, let there be no plot inconsistencies.) I’ve done my best. I can’t see things anymore. And it must be really bad practise to do it this way, but I’ve had no choice. I’ve had to let it go.

I went out with a few people last night. I mentioned that I’d self-published this week. They all said that they’d download it and read it. I thought, great. Now I’m thinking, shit. What if it stinks? Will they be honest with me? Will they feel that they have to damn it with that faint praise? Will I catch them exchanging looks when they talk about it? I wish that I’d kept my mouth shut and left it to people who I will never know.

If you are one of those people who I’ll never know and you have downloaded and read my book (any of it), once again, I would be most grateful for all and any comments, corrections and suggestions on the page provided – link in the menu bar.

4 thoughts on “On the curve of learning.

  1. Oliver, I stumbled across your blog just by “accident” and I have to say, based on the cover art alone, I was immediately interested to read the series. You’re on the right track… I don’t have a lot of dough right now, but I will dl the first one from smashwords and leave a review there and on Amazon. If you can get more reviews on Amazon, you should start to see sales. Also, have you considered an interview? It can help get your name out to more people. Visit http://nickwale.wordpress.com to see current interviews and use the contact page to email him if you’re interested. He gets good exposure. GOOD LUCK and keep at it! I love police dramas. (one more thing – include links to smashwords and amazon in all your postings here – i had a tough time finding it on smashwords because my ‘adult filter’ was on) 🙂

    • Loriann, I really appreciate you taking a look at my blog and providing me with some really good advice. Of course I should be linking from my blogs to my books. I suppose that I just got so used to blogging for posterity that it didn’t occur to me. After all, I know where to find them. I will certainly check out the interview link that you suggested. If you get around to reading Rope Enough and can leave a comment I would be doubly-thrilled(?). Thanks again. I shall pop over and see what you’re up to soon. Best. Oliver.

  2. Congratulations! I like the cover art too. Nicely done. It’s nice seeing those first downloads, isn’t it? I’m sure you will start seeing reviews come in, especially on the Smashwords distributors’ sites like Barnes and Noble and Apple’s iBookstore. I’d suggest you don’t expect too much from the reviews, though. Most of the time it seems that people, even if they take the time to write and post a review (which only a small percentage ever do), tend to restrict their comments to something like “good read” or “I liked it” or the opposite, but not much to really go on. It can be a bit strange knowing that people out there in the world have downloaded your books and may or may not have read them and may or may not have liked them, and you have no way of ever really knowing about most of them! It can also be a slow process, but one of the great things about self-publishing is there’s no time limit, no expiration date, no bookstores ripping off the covers for returns and tossing the books in the trash! You can build your readership over time, so it’s good to think of it more as a long term project than some immediate transaction reward. Best of luck!

    • Thanks very much for taking the time and trouble to comment on my post. It certainly is exciting seeing the downloads tot up and pondering the whos, wheres, whys of it all. I mean it – I just want people to read me and let me know what they think. I’ll take on board your observations regarding any feedback that I might hope to receive and I will settle in for the long wait. Thanks, again.

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