I'm not a patient person. I self-published my debut novel because I did not want to wait for an agent or publisher to notice me to see if people were interested in my story and my writing. That said, my book didn't take off like a rocket after the first group of readers read it. It's still been a very slow process even getting my book into reader's hands, what with no marketing money and the self-published label. But I'm finding, as I wait, that the sales are coming, the reviews are coming, and the effect on my person is a wonderful one. My confidence as a writer is only growing as time goes by.
You see, a debut book is terrifying. When people are reading and rating it, they are reading and rating you. They are weighing your efforts, and you are hoping that your far-fetched dreams of writing to make money will come to fruition. As a self-pub, this dream is even more far-fetched, it seems. But, here I am, a year after writing Monochrome (which took three years of patience to write, not having the money for an editor or a book designer, choosing instead to perfect it through many re-writes), and I have a 97% positive feedback, a Book Readers Appreciation Group Medallion, slots for interviews and podcasts, indie publishers approaching me to ask if I'll collaborate on writing projects, sales increasing, and my book on library shelves. Each one of these little things brings me closer to my dream, which, ultimately, is to get people to relate to the words I put on the page.
With Monochrome, I just wanted men and women suffering from depression to feel like they weren't alone, and those who have never dealt with depression to get an idea of what it was like. I wanted a character to experience living in a physical representation of depression, so that readers could imagine for themselves what it feels like to be stuck in your own bleak mind. And it's working. I'm not much richer, I don't have agents lining up to get me to write a prequel or to sign with them. Heck, I don't have a publisher for Monochrome, as I hoped I would by now. What I have is better. I have people reading my book, writing me about it, talking about my characters as if they were real, living, breathing people, and I have the confidence to continue writing.
Don't get me wrong, I would have kept writing even if the reception for my debut novel was less warm, but it would have been with more trepidation and much less joy. So, writers of the world, take a breath. Allow your books to grow, year by year. Take good advice, and take chances. But mostly, be patient. There seems to be a consensus that it takes a few years for sales to really start rolling in, if money is a primary concern. For me, it has never been about sales, it's about connections. And I'm slowing making those connections with readers. It's a beautiful thing, humbling and thrilling. And it is something I had to wait for, and am still waiting for, really. Happy writing, all.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.