It's been just about two months since Elly in Bloom was released. In that time I've obsessed, cried, and laughed like a mental patient on crazy-making pills. I've learned a few things along the way, and I'm still learning. Today was a learning day. It was an Elly in Bloom explosion. An EIB-plosion.
Some tidbits I've gathered:
Good reviews are akin to a moonbeam from heaven. They lift you up and give you a happy buzz that lasts a few days. To know that my words brought someone a smile, a laugh, or even some mild entertainment on a rainy day is such a deep satisfaction that it's unlike anything I've known before. I've gotten a few emails from people who have read my book on Goodreads and who just wanted to reach out and connect. That's amazing. Those few words, that connection made, it's so far above any professional happiness that any other job has brought me. I've also learned that it was super silly to assume it would be easy to get reviews. I figured, "Hey, people read it and review it, right?" WRONG. I do that because I blog. That's the only reason why. But no one else does. It's just not a thing like how I thought it was a thing. People work eight hours, and just want to come home and relax. They don't have time to review everything they read. In fact, I've learned that for every 1,000 people who read your book about six will review it. That makes each and every review a little more hard won and something to be proud of.
I love this cartoon. It's a great segue.
Bad reviews, on the other hand, are like getting punched in the face with brass knuckles. The first hit is the worst. It takes your breath away, makes you cry, makes you shaky, knocks out your pretty teeth and delusions of writing grandeur. It immediately triggers a protective feeling in you, one that makes you want to snatch your book back and cuddle up with it and hide it from the world. The second punch hurts too. But by the third, you are pretty numb. You begin to see the constructive criticism through the words. You take it in without feeling like you swallowed broken glass. You make changes to what you are writing now. It's still painful, but now it's also helpful. It feels good to get over that mountain. I think my next books will be easier in this realm now that' I've been through it. Some editing errors snuck their way through multiple edits into Elly in Bloom. When you have 108,000 word document, it's hard to get it completely perfect. Even professionally edited books usually have a handful of errors. However, they are being fixed and Elly in Bloom is entering it's second edition as we speak. I always wondered why most first editions were followed so swiftly by an identical second. Now I know.
I've seen that life moves on for everyone else, for me. The writing moves on. Elly in Bloom is doing well. I'm doing everything I can to promote it, but even with that, it takes about a year or so for a book to gain traction, unless it's a mega-bestseller out of the gate. For most books, its a slow, steady climb. Most writers make their living by selling multiple titles. I should really get on that. Besides, moving on and working on other books is good for me. Attention must be shifted or else I'll become an obsessive Amazon troll who checks her rankings every day. No thank you! There is life to be lived in the real realm.
Speaking of - Amazon is confusing. Also, Amazon can give you a complex. In addition to the constant lists and rankings that put your book into a thousand different categories (all ranked), they now have Author Rank. See, if you are an author, you can go onto your Amazon author central page and see where you rank with all the authors in all the world. It's the popularity contest of your worst nightmares. Top Ten? (*hysterical laughter*) Dream on. Those spots are reserved for the Kings, the Martins, Tolkiens and Rowlings. Top 100? No way. Your repeat bestsellers reside there. Patterson. Weiner. Roberts. You, my friend, are more of the 1,300 - 25,000ish ranking, depending on the day.
There are other ways that Amazon is strange.
The first time I released Elly in Bloom for free, over 22,000 books were downloaded. I was #1 on the Free Kindle Downloads without doing anything. I hadn't promoted it really, hadn't blogged or tweeted about it. That vaulted me up on all sorts of other lists that I've stayed on since then. Today, when I had quite a bit of a ramp up to the free day, I was downloaded 5,500 times. It might seem like a lot, but not compared to 22,000. And here's the weirdest thing: I have way more reviews now. My book is more popular, more seasoned, has more weird of mouth, is on more lists. I guess what I was so baffled by today was the question - where do you start on the free Kindle list? What is your ranking from the get go? Many writers have written about Amazon's super secret algorithm that they use to determine their rankings. I now believe that I understand less about this mega-book giant than I thought I knew before. I'm not biting the hand that feeds me, but I will say that the website that I love and lean on is very confusing. Still, I'll take it. Elly in Bloom is going to be free on November 9th as well, so I'll let you know how that one goes. (Update, I had 28,000 downloads after two days. So, I topped the first one, but it was two days, not one. Still confused.)
As of tonight we are #85 on the Free Kindle Top 100. With today being the exception, I've learned that you can only check Goodreads and Amazon so often. At
first it was like "That's my book! It's so wonderful to see it up
here!" and I went and looked at it like twice a day. Now I'm like, "Oh yeah, it's up there! I should check on it now
I've discovered that I need a community of writers. I need more people who speak this weird language of authors. "Word count. Agent.Query. Tracker. POD." I'm a newbie whose feet are barely wet, and I need some seasoned mentors who have done this already to give me advice. I need women with long braids to pass on their wisdom as we sit around a fire and play tambourines and eat pot-spiked brownies that are now TOTALLY legal in Colorado. We will dance in the flame with our ink quills. Okay, I would never do this, not really, but I do need to go to a writer's conferences and meet some people who have similar experiences and tips.
Uh, I got my first royalty payment. And it was awesome.
And finally, I am working really hard to hammer out a writing schedule for myself. Not only that, but I need to separate out my writing days, so everything gets a fair shake. One day for Queen of Hearts. One for Elly in Bloom promotion. One to fight my way back into Elly in Love, which is 3/4ths finished but I haven't seen it in about 6 months. I need a master schedule, a color coded time table that rationalizes out my passion.
Have I learned anything so far? Not sure. I thought finally being a writer would feel like landing in Oz. Instead it sort of feels like I'm Dorothy stuck in the tornado. I'm not there yet, but things are happening.
Her face = how I feel about all this. It's exciting AND scary.
Also exciting, if you haven't checked out my author website yet, please do and let me know what you think! www.colleenoakes.net
1 hour ago