Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Image borrowed from wallpaper designs.
Well, it's that season. The nights are cold, the wind howls through the eaves and snow blankets the land... unless you live in northern California, where the air turns crisp, fog obscures the landscape, and rain falls for weeks at a time. I don't mind, I love the fog and rain. I'd like a little snow now and then and I miss the four seasons I grew up with, but I can't complain. In fact, I have so many blessings. I try to remember to be thankful for them each and every day. I also try to remember that so many others have so little, especially in times of economic turmoil like these. When I can afford to, I try to give to charity. When I can't, I still offer my prayers and best wishes. I would encourage you to do the same.


It's been a strange, wonderful year for me. Financial hardships seemed trifling as I reached for my dreams and took my destiny in hand. With a whole new landscape of possibilities, I turned my back on years of meaningless come-ons, long-waited rejections and apathetic disregard. I took the leap into the great unknown one year ago. I followed the footsteps of the very few, walking a path that at the time seemed fraught with peril. Until this last year, self-publishing was the last resort of talentless losers who were doomed to be forever rejected by the all-powerful gatekeepers of our sacred treasury of commercial literature. Those who dared, inevitably failed. Their humiliation was public, and they were forever kept in disregard by those powerful figures who frowned down upon us from above. Then something changed. A few new opportunities opened up. A few brave people took those first steps, and a lot more of us followed.

I live in a world that has changed so much I can barely quantify it all. Self-publishers are now Indie Authors or Indie Publishers, not the hapless rejects we've always been told they were. In fact, some of them are making millions of dollars. Many of them are outselling traditionally published authors. E-books outsell paper books to the tune of millions of dollars now, and sales are increasing more than 100% year over year (paper sales are dropping nearly as fast as e-book sales are rising). Big publishing houses are struggling to keep their doors open and to keep e-books down, but it's not working. Big bookstores are vanishing at astonishing speed, along with their small independent counterparts.

In my little corner of the landscape, sales are climbing as they have been all year. When I first began publishing this spring, I was seeing an average of two or maybe four sales per day. Over the summer, Amazon juggled things around and a lot of e-publishers lost market share. Not me. My sales crept up to eight per day, then ten, then twelve. I now average almost twenty book sales per day and that number keeps rising.

Compared to the big boys, I suppose that's not a lot, but it means a lot to me. First of all, it's validation. It tells me that I can write sell-able books. It tells me that some people out there do like my writing. In fact, some of them like my writing enough to buy all my books, give me five-star reviews, and tell all of their friends about me. And the fact that my sales have built steadily throughout the year confirms to me that what is happening is word-of-mouth. It has to be, because unlike the big boys, I have no ad money. I have no marketing campaign, no commercials, no standup at the front of Barnes & Noble. And when it comes to visibility, I'm at the back of the line. My books don't show up on the front page anywhere, and they won't until I've sold tens of thousands. But maybe, someday...

In the meanwhile I'm going to savor the rest of the season. I'll watch my trivial book sales add up with a growing sense of satisfaction, but I'll keep writing. And I'll enjoy the company of family and friends. I'll enjoy good food and health, and I'll relish the many blessings that I enjoy, and I'll wish the same for all of you.


  1. J: What a lovely and thoughtful blog entry. Just took a break from reading your Tinker's Daughter and clicked onto your blog.

    Fortunately for your sales, it has been snowing a great deal during the holidays in my neck of the woods: New Mexico. We were snowed out of our house once and snowed-in 3 times. The hubbie watching bowl games, and I working on my photography and illustration and reading your books. I read the Ogre book, loved it and downloaded the rest.

    Sadly I have to agree with many of your comments. Just yesterday my favorite Hasting's store went out of business....Xmas sales not good?? It was located next to the pool where I swim, and I enjoyed going over there for coffee and some browsing. My heart goes to all that worked there. I have mixed emotions as being a gimp from a major car accident 10 years ago, I've embraced all the new venues of entertainment, (laptop has been a source of all my music, friends, entertainment during my "off-days/ bed-ridden" days), yet miss the human interaction of the coffee shop, since I am on disability from my previous career as a researcher

    Last year when the Kindle finally came down in price, I splurged for that as well. I've stumbled on some lovely stories including yours. I've take advantage of Kindle .99 offers and most times I've turned around and purchased the other volumes and you are right, many of the authors are extremely talented!!

    I really can't tell you exactly how I stumbled on your books. I think it was rereading all of susan dexter's fantasy during the holidays.... mentioned you. I've already referred your books to two family this amazing process continues!!!

    Anyway, you seem to be connected to the self-publishing world. As a photographer, I am curious as to the sales of art, photography books. That is one area where I continue to purchase hardcopies. Plus nothing compares to the feeling of getting a package in the mail. LOL As you point out that the publishing giants are at the forefront of rejection slips and helping the talented writer feel like s**t, but I don't think they can compare to photo publishers/editors, especially up in Santa Fe!!

    I have taken your jump to self-publishing to heart. I've made it my New Year's resolution to do my due diligence in researching art/photo self publishing whether it is electronic or hard copies. My biggest obstacle is my disability which limits me to working on my photography and illustration, with little left over for family and none for self-marketing. Like I tell my friends, I have energy for making lemonade, but little strength to build the lemonade stand.

    Wouldn't it be lovely if we all received a lovely agent/editor for Xmas who served as friend and coach and was a virago with everyone else? LOL ....anyway comments were very apropos, have a lovely 2012.

  2. Wow, that's a lot of snow. I've seen it like that before but not since I was a child and I lived up north. Aside from the hardship (which I hope was minimal), I have to be grateful if mother nature is encouraging people to read my books. :)

    Seriously, I can't thank you enough for your kind words, and for passing my stories on to your family. As you can tell from my pricing, I'm working very hard to get my stories into as many hands as possible. Commercials and marketing aren't an option for me, but this is and it seems to be working.

    Your jump into publishing sounds fascinating. A lot of work too, for sure, but that's part of the fun. I don't know what kind of art you do but we have many opportunities today that didn't exist a few years ago. The boom in Indie-publishing alone has created major markets for people who can do cover art or electronic formatting. Some 'agents' are now as busy providing these services as they used to be rejecting us writers. All kidding aside, I hope you find your niche and it goes well for you. I know there are a few services out there that actually allow you to self-publish hardcover, glossy imaged books. I think Lulu might but I'm not sure. And now that the Kindle and Nook are in color, that opens a whole new world of possibilities as well.

  3. Can't tell you how bizarre it was reading the first few chapters of tinker...while surrounded by snow. Check my facepage for all artwork and photography. My specialty is!!!, illustration...etc.
    Facebook is the only place i am up-to-date...once again keeping up with all the internet avenues is a job in itself and time away from work.
    The cover of you book was one of the things that caught my eye on Amazon. I loved the collage type of work, and yes, I hope to find a niche in that area as digital is all I do.

    I hope to move up to $199 kindle. I like to check spelling, read up on other books of series and author sites, which is very limiting on the b/w kindle...hopefully with b-day $$$ next month. Keep on writing...waiting for Ogre 2...Happy New Year.