Sunday, March 10, 2013

Expectations, standards and Read an Ebook-week

Being a new guy to this whole self-publishing-indie-market-ebook-thing is kind of perplexing at times. Those of you who watched or read my article about ‘Six Things I've learned from Self-Publishing (so far)’ might have noticed disclaimer around the end; no doubts do I have more challenges waiting for me over the next author-hill.

One of the things I’ve realized is that within this field there really doesn’t seem to be such a things as ‘normality’. Not in the existential way (although one could certainly make that argument as well) but in any defining standards against which you could go on to measure your accomplishments.

For example; say you’ve published your first book, like I did with ‘Pandegnomium’ around two weeks ago. I had my expectancies pretty low, to be honest, basically prepared that I wouldn’t even be able to give them away. I know the fantasy market is a rough one, and even though satirical, psychological fantasy might not be your average run-of-the-mill Epic storytelling… Well, my hopes were high and expectancies low. Let’s just put it like that.

It didn’t help that on my usual forum-surfing tour that night, before release, I read a couple of posters say that the amount of books they’d sold during the last two years could be counted on two hands.


Suddenly I actually became afraid. And confused; seeing as some other authors claimed to sell well over 180 copies a day. Something I’d readily believe, but never assume for myself. But the important point is; how are you supposed to go on with your expectations? When do you know when you’re “doing well”?
For me, and quite a handful of others, it’s all about defining your own goals. 

WHY are we, the proud legion of authors, doing what we do? Money? Fame? The urge to tell a story? I’ve met a surprisingly large amount of the latter and have gone through pretty much all reasons at one point. Yet, again, I struggle with the question ‘What is a realistic goal for me? When should I be happy?” Especially when one has so much, varying data to compare against.

As some of you may know, last week was ‘Read an Ebook Week” and a lot of sites and authors made a pretty big deal out of this; sites such as Smashwords included. Up till then, Pandegnomium had sold a little handful, in no way more than I’d expected. Keeping my notion in mind that I’m an entirely new and unknown author with an unknown universe, a lot of people have told me to throw away free stuff as much as possible. So I decided to enter the Smashwords catalogue with a week of free Pandegnomium.

And boy was I surprised.

I know as much as the next guy that people love free stuff. In a psychological sense, we’re willing to compromise much personal preference to at least try out something new, because the worst thing to lose is time. Still, the amount of downloads during that week perplexed me. If I read the charts on the final night right, ‘Pandegnomium’ ranked the 98th in ‘most units sold’ just from that week. Taken into consideration how many books were flying around at that time, I wondered whether I should feel impressed, proud or…what? Maybe I read the charts wrong and all of them were free, so perhaps pride is really the one thing I should take with me that it caught so much interest.

But again, how proud?

I suppose for an ambitious and aspiring author the best thing is to rejoice in what you have; look upon the people who have taken an interest in your work and be humble and grateful. It’s not like this profession garners much recognition for the new face, perhaps not even with your friends and family (I refer to previously mentioned article) so I think we should be proud. Personal celebration parties are not to be underestimated; after all you have all the cake to yourself!

On that note, I’d just like to thank all of you who’ve shown an interest in reading ‘Pandegnomium’. Really; if you’re one of them - Thank you. I hope you liked it and seeing the interest during Read an Ebook Week has lifted my spirit significantly!

At this point in time, my second book in the universe of Heureka, “Bloody Peasants” has been sent to proofreading. Work on the third, “A little bit of everything” began some days ago and is proceeding along nicely. If you haven’t already, I recommend checking out the short interview I’ve done over at the YA Book Addicts! They’re some lovely people and it was a blast to be able to appear there.

I’m also appearing on the “We Do Write” in April in a much longer interview, so stay tuned!

- Nicolai.

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