I can’t remember who told me this, but when I was getting ready to find an editor for my first novel, Lost Voyage, someone told me I might want to consider not publishing until I had two or three more novels to release. Of course, I laughed this off and wasn’t even going to consider it as an option. This was, after all, my first novel and I wanted it out there for the world to see.
How was I not supposed to publish it?
I now have two novels available, with a third in the works to be released later this year (maybe, as you’ll read further down), but I’ve recently found myself reflecting on those words which were said to me two years ago. I’m now realizing what those words actually meant and that they might not have been as crazy as they sounded. I was so excited about releasing my book and was about to become a first time self-published author, and I just didn’t have time to listen to that nonsense. But, maybe I should have. And maybe so should you.
Now, I’m well aware that more than ninety percent of you will disagree with me, and I can’t fault you for that. Self-published authors get so caught up in how fast they want to get their book out, that they often rush everything and overlook many things along the way. For me, the biggest thing I’ve overlooked is that I don’t have a huge following – yet.
I know more and more readers will come as the years pass, and I’m also aware that you can’t grow your following unless you put out more books, so I know this will sound like a complete contradiction considering what I’m about to say next, but I don’t necessarily know that I want the masses flocking to buy my books yet.
I can hear you all screaming through the internet… “Are you crazy?!?!”
Well no…okay, maybe a little, but I’m really rethinking my whole publishing outlook for the next few years. As happy and proud as I am to have two novels published, this is also my downfall, and I’m really wishing I would have waited until I had a few books done before releasing any of them. So, I’ve decided to reformulate my publishing strategy.
Gone are the days (or they are extremely rare) of massive publishing contracts and worldwide exposure for authors such as myself. Add to the fact that the society we live in now has the attention span of a gnat with ADD, and it’s easy for an author like myself to get lost in the mix and forgotten about. With only one or two books out, it’s hard to keep a loyal following, no matter how good a self-published author is.
With my novels, I will have the same main characters in each book, hopefully for the next twenty years. It is my biggest hope that everyone loves these characters enough to want to keep reading them, but how long will my fans wait until the next book gets released before they become too anxious or lose interest?
There are millions of self-published authors nowadays, many of whom are content with just putting books out. I, on the other hand, take a different approach to how I view being a published author. I want this to be my career. I want to be able to get paid to write books. There’s nothing wrong with someone doing it for reasons other than this, but I’m transparent about what I want out of this. If I don’t build a following, however, this will never happen. And I don’t believe I’ll build the following that I want simply by putting out one book per year over the next ten years.
So, how do I (or you, if you’re interested) combat this awkward dilemma I am faced with?
The answer is to simply not publish – until you have enough books to keep readers engaged for a while. I know, it’s crazy, but it’s what I’ve decided to do, at least on a much less significant scale. I still plan to release books for writing competitions and such, but I’ve set a goal for myself that I hope will help me to build that huge following I seek.
By the end of 2018, I plan on writing eight more novels. That will give me ten in total. This way, when someone reads a book or two of mine, they can immediately dive into the next one, or eight, if they so desire. For me, this is the way to build my loyal fan base of readers who won’t lose interest while waiting for my next novel. Then, I can pump out one per year and still have those readers coming back for more. And I’m going to go even one step further down the crazy path and make my first novel available for absolutely free in an effort to bring in and entice new readers to give me a chance.
The difference in this strategy is that the loss of interest I mentioned earlier now becomes anticipation about the next book. My point is, they will have ten books to read and become loyal to me, as opposed to reading the two I have now and then having to wait another year for the next one to come out.
This isn’t an easy decision to make, and who knows if I can write eight more books over the next two years with a house full of screaming kids and a new one due in June. I want nothing more than to have millions of readers, but my long term goals and aspirations far outweigh any short term ego-related motives I may have.
I’m aware this strategy isn’t for everyone, but there is some common sense logic throughout this post. Would you rather write a book a year for the next ten years and maintain a minimal following or would you rather hold off publishing for two or three years until you were positive you could keep your readers engaged for a longer period of time by having eight to ten novels readily available for them? For me, it’s the latter.
And who the hell has time to write eight books in two years? So, I get it if you aren’t on the same page with me on this one. This, as with all of my posts, is based on my own opinions and reflections of what I see can work best for me.
Hopefully it will help a few others along the way too.
As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!