About 18 months ago I was sitting at my desk in a dead end marketing job. The company had just been sold and I knew I was on the chopping block. Before the sale I was bored out of my skull; after the sale I was a zombie, counting the minutes before I could go home each night. A girl can only stare into space for so long. I had to do something so I decided to write a story to pass the time. Before I knew it I had 100 pages and sent them to a friend for her opinion. She finished reading it in record time and asked, "What happens next?" Next? I didn't know. I hadn't written it yet! But I was hooked and in eight weeks I had a 400 page book with a beginning, middle and end! My friend loved the story and encouraged me to "do something with it." So I did. I self-published my very first novel, What if I Fly? in June 2015.
I honestly didn't think anyone but (maybe) my friends would read it. In my head I had a very specific demographic; women my age from Bristol, Rhode Island who read romance novels. How many could there possibly be? But I had paid an editor and wanted to recoup my expenses, so with a great deal of trepidation, I announced the news to my 350 Facebook friends and posted the link to Amazon (you know...just in case someone wanted to actually buy it). I held my breath and watched in wonder over the following weeks as people purchased my novel. Not just friends and family, but perfect strangers from near and far; men and women, young and old. For some reason, my book appealed to a much broader audience than I ever imaged.
Despite spending the previous ten years in marketing selling products and services, I had NO CLUE how to sell myself. Fortunately, I didn't have to do much in the beginning. Other than build a website and create a Facebook author page, I let word of mouth do the work for me. I was interviewed by the local paper, my book was a 'featured beach read' on The Rhode Show, I've had readings at libraries and bookstores. The reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are largely positive. The local stores kept selling out and the college kid who works at Barrington Books said, "I've never seen anything like it! People keep coming in asking for your book!" Fabulous!
The boon lasted about three months and while my first book is still selling, it's at a much...much slower rate. Word of mouth only goes so far! It's time to build my 'author platform' and I'm learning as I go.
I wrote my second novel over the summer and after two rounds of revisions, it's being released in February. What a different experience this has been! When I wrote my first book, I didn't worry whether people would like it. I wrote it solely for me. Starting my second book, I worried how it would compare to my first, wanting the readers who loved What if I Fly? to love As it Seems. Pressure! I realized rather quickly I had to write this book for myself as well. It taps into some pretty raw experiences and emotions, but I loved writing it as much as the first, and if my readers love it too...well, that's the icing on the cake.