I’m told that today is the anniversary of the Titanic disaster. This scrap of historical trivia has started me thinking. It seems to me that the icy waters through which I am steering, lately, probably contain an iceberg or two — and it would behoove me to slow down. Or at least build a couple of extra lifeboats.
If you have been following my career at all, you will know that I have a book coming out in a couple of weeks. It is my ninth novel, but the experience of writing it, the experience of finding a publisher, and the experience of reaching this point — the point where the book will actually be for sale in a couple of weeks — has been so different from my first eight that I feel … well, I hesitate to say “at sea,” but … okay. At sea, and rudderless.
(I could have said “up a creek without a paddle,” you know. But I restrained myself.)
In the world of print publishing, by the time your book is two weeks out from its release date you can hear the clank-clank-clank of sales machinery. You go into bookstores and check the pre-orders. They tell you how many copies they are about to shelve. Your sales rankings already appear on Amazon.com, based on pre-orders, and you can watch the numbers climb. Advance reviews are in hand, so you know whether the critics love it or hate it. You may even know that your book has already gone to a second printing — o frabjous day! — based on the strength of the pre-orders (or, viewed another way, based on your publisher’s sad lack of faith in you, which caused it to print too few copies).
But for Wicked Cool, the silence is deafening. No clank-clank-clank.
It’s perhaps inevitable, on the anniversary of the Titanic sinking, to picture oneself lost on a dark and icy sea, heading for an invisible iceberg. But for all I know, the waters I’m sailing are warm and sunlit and welcoming. After all, this book did win First Place in the only contest I ever entered it in. Maybe it’s going to be a hit. Maybe I should have a little faith. Maybe the mysterious alchemy that seems to magically connect readers with books is already at work, and my readers will somehow find me.
After all, one never really knows how that happens. Seriously. I was warned that Cerridwen Press does nothing whatsoever to market their books, but I dismissed that warning with a wave and a chuckle, because neither does Signet. Nobody buys a book based on advertising, so publishers don’t advertise. People buy books based on the recommendation of fellow readers, mostly, or because they stumbled across a particular book and were drawn to it for whatever reason. As an author, you light incense and sacrifice goats to the Cover Gods, because despite the old adage people DO judge your book by its cover — but apart from that little ritual, there seems to be little that an author can do to influence sales, really. Other than write the best book you can. And the Cover Gods smiled on me, this time around.
But Wicked Cool is different because it is an e-book. It will be offered first, I’m told, only on the publisher’s website, in order to maximize sales there. Then (days? weeks? I’ve no idea) it will be sold via Amazon.com and other such e-tailers. And after that (again, I don’t know when), a print version will be available. Because of the immediacy of e-pubbing, there is no such thing as an “advance copy.” So no advance reviews. No pre-orders. No sales rankings to obsess over. No ripples on the pond. Not one breath of wind beneath my wings.
It’s very disorienting, to an e-pub newbie. But I’m assured that the silence is not only normal, it’s inevitable. So I must just hold on tight … and wait. Will my readers find me?? Will they buy an e-book?? Especially an e-book that is what the industry calls “YA paranormal” — as opposed to “single title historical romance?” If not, will new readers step up to take their place? Hey, who reads these things, anyway?
I’m about three chapters into a sequel for Wicked Cool. I’m also about two chapters into an historical romance. If I don’t start seeing a few ripples on this pond, I’m heading back into familiar waters!