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my experience as a writer

Owen Jones

My Experience As A Writer

My first novel as a ‘real writer’ was called ‘Behind The Smile’, but it was not my first experience in self-publishing, since I had already created over 150 web sites and a hundred-odd ‘How To…’ manuals plus a book of my father’s automatic writings.

However, I did feel that publishing my very own first novel was something entirely different. Or at least, it was for me anyway, because I had always created a web site or a ‘How to…’ book and slipped them gently into the world without any fuss, just hoping that they would be noticed, which, in general, worked on a small scale.

However, as I said above, a novel is something entirely different. A novel is something personal. A writer expresses a lot of personality in a novel and so, it needs to be promoted in a more personal way.

Not only that, but there are millions of novels (self) published every year, so if an author does not make a superhuman effort, it will be hard to sell even a few hundred copies. You need to express yourself in your ad campaigns or you will miss your niche audience.

It is also true that people tend to like to read new novels, so you need to hit the public soon after publication. In general, it is only ‘old masters’ that sell well years later.

Now, two years after my first novel, I can see that I was hugely naive when I started. I actually thought that starting and then finishing the book was the problem for a would-be writer! Can you believe it?

In those far-off days, it had never crossed my mind that actually selling it would be harder. It took me five years to write my first book and when it was done, I thought: ‘Well, what now?’

Look around for an agent and / or a publisher, I thought and then it is job done!

What an idiot!

I went down the traditional rote of a writer and received three refusals. I could have lived with that, but it took 13 months to be refused! I could see my life slipping away before me without my getting anywhere. So I decided to go it alone.

It was only then that I realised how many other writers there were out there and it was scary. There are thousands and thousands of us! And all with the same problem.

What a lot of broken dreams and wasted talent!

So, I self-published. Not the old-style vanity self-publishing though. I used Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle and another one, Lulu, as well as others.

That was a huge learning curve too, but not insurmountable by any means.

I was as pleased as Punch. People could now buy my book in both print and ebook formats from at least two sources. Yes! I felt on top of the world. I even had hardbacks enabled through Lulu – hardbacks!

I sat back and waited for people to buy.

It soon became apparent that having books for sale did not mean that people knew that or would buy them. The publishers and distributors want to sell books, but they will not favour you over anyone and best sellers come first anyway – certainly not a ‘who was that again?’

Another hard lesson. So I created a web site and a blog for the book and for myself as an author, which gave me two chances of being found and also allowed future books to be linked to me as a hub.

That tactic increased sales a lot, but not enough for me, so I wrote articles on the background of the characters and posted them to the sites. It all had beneficial effects, but it was still not enough.

So, I started accounts at Facebook and other social media sites and linked them all together. I incorporated apps (custom LIKE and other buttons) into my Facebook pages which further helped and then a newsletter with an autoresponder and several (legal) Twitter accounts all funneling people who might like my book to read the first chapter free of charge.

It was a long, bumpy road for me, but I hope that it will be a smoother one for you.

Read more about the problems of self-publishing and how to overcome them on Megan Publishing and Owen Jones’ site