It’s been exactly a year since I clicked the “publish” button on the Amazon KDP site. Not the most climactic way to have something released, but it was still an exciting day for me.
It’s been a good year. I didn’t know what to expect, and so perhaps that meant my expectations were low, but things have come together pretty well. No, I haven’t had any bestsellers, Whatley Tupper didn’t go viral, I haven’t retired to focus on my writing. But that doesn’t meant hat things haven’t gone well. Whatley Tupper was a book that Daniel and I knew was weird and funny and yet it sat, collecting dust as they say, for several years. With the current publishing climate, I don’t think The Adventures of Whatley Tupper would have ever been released in the traditional manner. And now it’s out, almost 12 000 copies floating around in the various Kindles around the world. Of course, the vast majority of those copies were downloaded for free during a five day stretch in June and I’m sure most of those haven’t even been opened–but compared to sitting in a box under my bed just a year ago, 12 000 is pretty impressive, at least I think so.
It’s been a while since I released a sales graph, and so there is it. That one five-day spike really screws with the vertical scale and smooths out all the many jagged slopes on either side, but it sure shows how dramatic the effect of a free book is. The Year We Finally Solved Everything is still free after more than two months (although I don’t know why) and while it’s always been a much less marketable book, it’s actually my most downloaded book. Until publishing using KDP, The Year We Finally Solved Everything was, at best, destined to be published by some small Canadian press, most of which only release a couple of thousand copies and offer small, $500 – $1000 advances. I don’t care about the money, so I’m fine with it remaining free. As far as I know, it will remain free for years. Amazon works in mysterious ways.
It’s been a great year although I know I could have done a lot more to promote my books. I find it difficult to get into the social media game. I just don’t really enjoy facebook or chatting on online forums or tweeting my thoughts. I don’t even like talking on the phone. Kindle Boards has been great to ask questions and learn of new developments, but I’m not interested in spending much time on these places each day–this is not a slight to anyone on these places, it’s just not me. I just can’t do it–I’d rather spend my time writing or editing or planning. Which means that I’m cutting myself off from a lot of potentially influential people. I know. And I used to care more about this. And maybe I’ll care more about this in the future. Yeah, receiving royalty cheques is always cool, but that’s not been the best part. Until a year ago, I’d been writing for more than a decade with having anything published. There were several close calls, a few broken promises, and even a scam, but nothing in the end published. That has a way of diminishing a man’s desire to write, of his inspiration. But in these last months I’ve been writing more than I have in ten years. I have more ideas than time to get them down. If anything, I have to keep myself from clicking that ‘publish’ button too soon, without taking the time to make sure that I’m releasing my best work. A year ago I became liberated and I’m still relishing my new-found freedom. It’s all up to me. That is the greatest feeling. I always loved writing, but now I have more of a reason to write. Because I can put it out there. And someone might read it. And someone might love it. And someone might hate it. And someone might shrug indifferently towards it. But it’s out there. It’s not sitting in a box under my bed.