On February 18, 2011, after multiple rounds of revisions and editor submissions, I self-published my first novel, THE CLEARING.
And on February 18, 2012, I will pull it from publication.
I never set out to be a self-published author. In fact, when I put THE CLEARING up for sale, I only expected close friends and family to buy it. My financial investment was minimal, and Release Day consisted of nothing but a blog post and a Facebook status.
“Hey, THE CLEARING is available now! Here’s the link! Woohoo!”
That was the extent of my advertising. I didn’t have a marketing plan because I wasn’t planning to market anything. I didn’t do blog tours. I only did interviews for people who asked for them–I never approached anyone for publicity (not that I remember, anyway).
The only things I did in the way of active marketing were the Daytime Alabama TV interview and the speaking engagements.
That was it.
So it’s no surprise that my sales numbers don’t match those who are more proactive with their marketing. I never expected them to. And this is where the problem lies.
If I’m not going to do this for real, I shouldn’t be doing it at all.
My goal is still to be traditionally published; not because it’s better than self or indie publishing, but because it’s my particular dream. I want the big pub house, the big marketing budget, the book tours, the fancy cover (that I don’t have to pay out of pocket for!). I want all of it, and I’m willing to keep working for it.
I started THE CLEARING in August 2008. That’s 3 1/2 years ago, people. I went through multiple rounds of edits with my agent, who sent it on submission to editors three times.
Our last round of submissions was Fall 2010. And because I’d been through all that Submission Purgatory, I couldn’t face the possibility that NO ONE would ever read the book. I wanted people to at least have a chance to see what I’d been talking about for the past year. What I’d spent so much time working on.
My agent and I talked, and after that conversation, I decided to publish it myself. People bought it. More people than I expected. And it was all very bittersweet. People were reading it, which was great, but I was still very sad that it hadn’t sold to a publishing house.
A few months after I published the book, I tried to read it again.
Key word: TRIED.
I have grown so much as a writer that I don’t even recognize myself in THE CLEARING anymore. If I were to write it now, it would be a totally different book. And when people tell me they’re reading it, I have this weird compulsion to apologize for the things I don’t like about it anymore. I don’t ACTUALLY apologize, but I have to bite my lip to keep from doing so.
Am I proud of the story? Oh, yes. I absolutely ADORE the plot and the characters. Sure, they have their flaws, but they’re MY characters and I love them. Honestly, I think the storyline is brilliant. It’s the writing that isn’t representative of me anymore, and that bothers me.
It had a good run. One year of limited publication, and if I ever want to put it back up for sale, I can; but that would require hours and hours of revisions to make it into something that represents me now, and I don’t think I want to backtrack like that. I have so many new ideas.
I want to move forward.
* * *
Thank you to everyone who bought a copy of the book, told a friend about it, blogged about it, emailed / called / texted me to say how much you loved it, lent it to a friend, took the time to review it, asked me to sign it, placed it on your bookshelf, used it as a doorstop, propped up a wobbly table leg with it . . . you get the idea.
THE CLEARING will still be available until February 18, so if you’ve been meaning to buy a copy, well . . . it’s pretty much now or never, kids. You can find purchase links in the sidebar; it’s available in all the usual places.