2013 was my first full year as a published author. It’s been an interesting year, and I learned a lot.
Writing: I finished my second novel and started on my third. I think I’ve grown as a writer. I believe that Cannibal Hearts is better than Catskinner’s Book, and I think that The Worms Of Heaven will be better still. Specifically, I think that I’m improving as a novelist, that I have a better feel for the pacing and depth of a novel as opposed to shorter works. A novel is a big canvas, and it offers room to explore my world. I feel like I’m growing more comfortable with filling in the background details.
Editing: As I write this, Fauxpocalypse is available on Kindle, and it will be out in Trade Paperback soon. It has been a truly incredible experience. I’m still processing it, but I have learned what I am good at and more importantly, what I’m not good at. Working with the other contributors has been very rewarding, but I’ve learned that I have some serious shortcomings as a publisher. I very much would like to do another project like it, but I would do some things differently. Starting with, well, absolutely everything.
Multimedia: I had one of my short stories read on a podcast, back at the end of March. Then in August I decided to put my novels up on ACX.com and I got the attention of an excellent voice actor, Brandon McKernan. Catskinner’s Book is currently available on Audible.com, and Cannibal Hearts will be out sometime over the next couple of weeks. It has been really interesting hearing my own words read back to me by a talented performer–I really can’t say enough about the experience.
Promotion: Well, I learned a lot about things that don’t work. This is still an area where improvement is wanted. I have taken part in a number of promotions, but my books are kind of a hard sell–they don’t fit neatly into a genre, and that makes it tough to find an audience. Word of mouth is doing the best for me–the people who like my books tend to really like them, and tell everyone they know.
Fans: I have fans now, and they are fantastic. The feedback that I have gotten has really kept me going. People want more James & Catskinner stories, as odd and ambiguous as they are. There were a number of times in the past year when I would have given up trying to do this whole writing thing except that I knew that there are people out there who are looking forward to my next book. It means everything.
Blogging: I was kind of surprised by the response to this blog in the past year. First off, because I keep gaining new followers even though I’m not doing any overt promotion at all. Again, word of mouth is working well for me. People repost or refer to my blog and that gets other people to check it out. Or I find someone I want to follow and that blogger follows me back.
The second surprise for me in blogging is what people are following. My most popular posts are the ones about the business of writing and publishing, which is funny because I’m so terrible at it. Still, people seem to like what I have to say about issues in the publishing world like GoodReads, Legacy vs. Independent Publishing, Amazon, and so on. It’s gratifying, if a little inexplicable.
I made a lot of mistakes this past year, but none of them have so far proved fatal. I really can’t say if I’m where I should be in my journey as a writer. I’m not where I hoped I’d be a year ago. I guess I’m just where I am.
And, you know, I can work with that. I’m older and (I hope) wiser than I was at the start of the year, but I’m still excited about what next year holds.
Fortune Favors The Bold!