One Year Anniversary

The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King was published on November 16th 2015. It’s therefore been one full year. I suppose I ought to reflect on this milestone…

Have all my expectations been fulfilled? Well, in cold hard figures, no. I genuinely thought I had hammered my expectations into the ground before publishing but I haven’t quite reached them. I won’t reveal what they were, nor will I give out my sale numbers, partly in case I am laughed at or others feel put off in seeing them. It’s been enough to cover the cost of editing, proofreading, typesetting, formatting, cover design, purchasing ISBN numbers, distribution setup costs, domain name buying, the website – basically a lot of things you often don’t consider when budgeting for a book. Book 1 is therefore in profit. In that sense, I can hardly complain and I look ahead to book 2 optimistically.

Perhaps I could track my journey briefly for those who don’t know. I was in the middle of a law conversion course when I started to seriously write Dragon’s Blade. I had bits of it written but they were shockingly awful. It was always a distant dream. I decided I wanted to make it a reality. Really, it was a form of therapy for me. Back then I felt like I was drowning but having this goal gave me a focus and a purpose I’d lost. I started that venture back in January 2015, writing for a few hours each night once I got my law coursework out of the way. I began attending nights of the London Writers Café and my very first outing showed me I had a very long way to go. But I kept going and I kept writing and eventually something clicked. I found Acorn Independent Press in April by attending the London Writers Café (LWC). One night there was a panel on self-publishing and Acorn seemed to talk sense. The fact that the organiser of the LWC had invited them along gave me confidence as well. I finished the book in July and it came out in November.

Since then it’s been a year of terrific highs and crashing lows; something I think is common to most writers regardless of success. I have noticed that if there are a string of bad reviews a glowing one is just around the corner, and vice-versa. Sales can come in great waves before retreating from the shore, although a constant burn of activity in the form of reviews, interviews or guest posts can help regulate the tide. Keeping that up is hard going but it’s something I’ll have to try and do going forward.

I have of course received a good deal of help and support, and on occasion, a stroke of luck. Getting a Bookbub featured deal came out of nowhere. My cover will have helped in that arena, as it has in attracting people to the book in the first place. One thing is constant. Wherever I traipse the book around, jaws always drop at that cover. I have my editor to thank for that. Leila used to work in the traditional world and knew Rachel (the designer) from her time in it. Leila contacted Rachel and got her to look at the brief when I may not have been able to on my own. I was then lucky enough that my artist mother was able to sketch the sword. So, that’s three people right there that made just the cover alone possible. It goes to show that ‘indie’ authors really aren’t all that independent. Behind every book lies a team of people, some large, some small, but never the author completely alone. I’ve spoken at length about the importance of getting involved in the wider community in my post on conventions so I won’t repeat myself here. Basically, get out there!

Do I have any regrets? If I could go back in time and tell the Michael of one year ago something it would be to get his arse in gear gathering review contacts and indie bookstores. I now have a list nearly 500 names long (bloggers, booktubers etc.) but I didn’t put as much time into that as I should. I’d also tell myself about all the promotional services I’ve only started to discover recently. I was very naïve about the effort it would take to push this book in front of people. I also try not to think too much about what I did ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in regards to the writing or content with my first book. It was the best book I could have written back in the summer of 2015. I’m sure I’ll think the same about book 2 once book 3 is wrapping up. Best to take these lessons and apply them on future projects.

As for the future, there is the rest of this trilogy to finish. Right now, The Dragon’s Blade: Veiled Intentions is with beta readers. There are more than double the number of them than I had for The Reborn King, so I’m hoping the process will be doubly rewarding. Hopefully, I will be starting to write book 3 before December rolls around. After that? Well, I have a side project that is already 40K words long and I’d like to finish it one day. While I am doing that, I can decide on which of the ideas bubbling away will become the next big one that takes up years of my life.

Because, frighteningly, it’s already been one whole year. I do hope I’ll be writing a similar post ten years from now…

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