I published my first novel Endless Turquoise, in December 2020, and now – nearly two months later, and thanks to all of you – I can say I have sold hundreds of books (246 by the end of January 2021).
I have also racked up thousands of page reads and 70 book borrows on Kindle unlimited. I am happy to have 15 positive reviews on Amazon. Most importantly, after languishing on a computer for many years, my book is out there, in the world, no longer a figment of my imagination. And – best of all – people say they love it and want to read more!
I have received many messages of support and encouragement and seen a steady growth in my mailing list (which is the key to success in the self-publishing business) and you, my friends, are significant factors in my progress so far.
Lots of people have asked me about my publishing journey, and I wanted to share, honestly, what has happened so far.
It is also really, really hard work. Writing my first novel whilst maintaining a full-time job was not easy, but I figured out a writing formula that worked for me and it came naturally (and took around three years!).
Researching, approaching and finally being taken on by a literary agent in the hope of gaining a traditional publishing contract took up two years.
Finally giving up that dream and deciding to learn the ropes of self-publishing took another two years.
To give you some context, this has been – and will continue to be (as I have barely scraped the surface of the marketing, advertising and expanded distribution side of the business) – the steepest learning curve of my life.
Those who know me personally will agree, I hope, that I am not afraid of working hard or taking on new challenges.
In the early 2000’s I moved from the UK to Anguilla, to take up an integral position in Anguilla’s tourism community. I knew hardly anyone on the island and had very little experience. A few years later I set up my own business which led to publishing an annual tourism magazine, True Anguilla.
Seven issues later, Covid-19 has temporarily, I hope, put the brakes on that aspect of my career. My 100%-tourism-dependent island home closed its borders to visitors in February 2020 and only reopened in October. Our situation is dire – tourism figures are 92% UNDER normal. Ergo, I will not publish a magazine this year.
The good news (for me) is that this terrible pandemic has created the conditions – increased time due to lack of work and motivation/desperation due to lack of income – to finally self-publish.
For nearly a year now I have been taking courses, rewriting, editing, rewriting, worrying, faffing about, researching, struggling with new software, conquering new skills, seemingly endlessly scanning and engaging with social media, and battling brain strain. Amazon is a behemoth and I have spent so many hours figuring out how to do all sorts of fiddly, impossible things on it. And yet I’ve barely scratched the surface.
Thankfully, I found a virtual team, the self-publishing community, introduced to me by Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Forum, who have held my hand throughout. I listen to their YouTube show ever Friday and attend all types of free and paid online seminars. They gave me the tools, but I must put in the sweat equity.
I find it difficult to switch gears between the practicalities (figuring out the Amazon publishing interface or trying to get the mailing list to work) and marketing mode (creating advertising straplines and marketing strategies, finding nice ways to ask friends to read my book, review my book, feature my book, share and like my book). Add to that, wanting to sit down quietly and just get on with writing the next one …
Writing a dedication to my Mummy Chicken and Daddy when they are no longer here to read it was heartbreaking. Hearing how proud I would have made them makes me cry, then smile, then cry some more.
Often, I feel like the proverbial swan (maybe a moorhen is a better analogy as they have a much shorter neck and cuddlier appearance). Seemingly serene and happy gliding along the surface of the water, graciously accepting congratulations about publishing my book, when underneath my little legs are paddling furiously. Panicking that I haven’t acknowledged the kind comments someone has made by email, messenger or social media – constantly anxious that I am missing a trick by not having advertised the book, or having priced it wrongly, or that something in the story will offend someone.
Sometimes I lose faith in my creativity, in the quality of my writing, in my ability to craft something that people will want to read – after all, I failed to find a traditional publishing deal – and then I get a message like this from Nicola:
Trudy just wanted to tell you a little story. A good friend of mine, Sam, came over for a walk around the fields and during the conversation she mentioned a friend of hers who lives in … they had been discussing what books they had read recently, and this lady said, “Sam, you absolutely HAVE to read Endless Turquoise … it’s hands down the most enjoyable, fun and unputdownable book I’ve read in a long time!!!”
Or like this from Julie W: Endless Turquoise is a great book! Trudy has captured the island fun of the Caribbean. I had to cancel my vacation, so Endless Turquoise takes me away to no worries and the love of the ocean. Thanks.
Or like this from Melissa: Trudy, I just read your book in a day. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to read future books of yours. Perfect quarantine beach read.
Or someone sends me pictures like these:
And I know I did good, and that I am not alone in this, and that everything is worth it – because I am a writer who has finally found her voice.
Every reader has made a difference. Every time someone recommends my book to a friend or family member, or posts a picture of the book on their Facebook feed or Instagram account saying: You will enjoy this, support her! I can SEE that mention translate into sales.
For example, when my friend Sue posted a message and a link to my Amazon page, I saw a sale register in Australia that I can directly attribute to that post. The same thing happened in Spain when Alex shared with her circle, and in America, Canada and the UK, where I sell most copies.
I see spikes in sales on the days that friends comment on or post a picture of themselves reading it. Amazing!
I’m delighted to report that my readers are asking for more and are impatient to know what’s next for Tracy and Charlotte. I am on it!
I have outlined two great stories, and I am having fun digging into their loves and lives. I am also adding new characters, additional glamourous locations and plotting in lots of twists and turns.
I am writing as quickly as circumstances allow and hope to have a first draft of my next book Deepest Aqua, ready to go to my trusted editor soon.
If you would like to share any feedback on Endless Turquoise, I’d love to hear it. And I’m interested to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to see happen in Tracy or Charlotte’s lives, too. Just email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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