Monday, November 11, 2019

If I knew then...

Someone recently asked me the one thing I wish I’d known before being published.

I thought back to 2014, the year I first signed a contract. I was beyond excited, so full of happiness my feet didn’t touch the ground for days.

I signed my name to contracts with blissful abandon.

I don’t mean to suggest I signed without reading the contract, but I was so new to publishing, I didn’t understand the myriad ramifications of my name on that signature line.

Here I am five years older, five years wiser.

I wish I’d known I’d be running a small business. My products are books. And, if I want readers to find my books, I must market them. Like most new authors, I believed my publisher should take that role (my husband still believes publishers should do that).

My first mystery, The Deep End, released in 2015.

That first release, I waited for a confetti cannon. Instead of confetti, the universe responded with a pffft. Still, my publisher was pleased and told me, “Keep writing.” The second release was worse than the first. A bigger pffft, less confetti, fewer sales. My publisher told me, “Second books seldom do as well as debuts.”

That would have been great information to have as I managed my expectations.

The releases have steadily improved since that second book. I have a theory about that.

Traditional publishing companies push their latest books—thrillers for the holidays, beach books for summer, romances for Valentine’s Day.

I push The Deep End. I believe that once readers meet Ellison Russell, revisit (or visit) the 1970s, and fall in love with her extended family, they’ll keep reading.

Recently the Country Club Murders (The Deep End is the first book in the series) surpassed 100,000 books sold.

I love spending my days spinning stories. I like editing. I love engaging with readers. All things I expected when I took the first steps down this path. Knowing more about Facebook ads and AMS than most marketing executives? Let’s call that a bonus. Or a curse. Tomato-tomahto.

Five years from now, I may be writing another I-wish-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now blog. Lord only knows what mistakes I’ll make, but at least I’ll make them doing something I love.

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