Out of the Woods: Jumping Spider
No 2: February 20, 2019 ~
My totem animal is the spider. Spiders create beautiful, intricate webs, and that's what I strive to do with my storytelling. So far, I have few reasons to doubt my talent. I've received some very enthusiastic feedback for my first novel, including a handful of thoughtful, positive reviews, so I know there's at least a small audience for my work. I just don't know how much it will scale. My first free giveaway of The Darkest Eyes, a one-day promotion in January, garnered 61 potential new readers. Another two or more people read pages of the book through the Kindle Unlimited program. However, I've not seen any new reviews or received any other feedback based on those results. Perhaps it is too soon. My second free giveaway, four days in February, resulted in 179 downloads. I advertised differently for the second one, so I've learned a tiny bit on the marketing side that might be useful. Sales have been few and far between, and I doubt that any can be attributed to readers who simply discovered the book without having any connection to me. My focus is on increasing visibility rather than sales, but for that to happen, the book needs to accumulate more reviews on Amazon. I am hoping that my worry over the paucity of customer reviews can be pinned to author angst and will prove unwarranted at some point. It's a long book, and people have busy lives. It's a challenge to remain optimistic while trying to break out of the shadows, but I feel quite sure that a pessimistic approach would be doomed, so I'll continue to look for a gleam of light that will show me the way. Optimism aside, it's disorienting to make the shift from writer to marketer, to say the least. I wouldn't expect great marketers to suddenly be able to shift gears and become novelists, but writers who want their work to be read must become business-minded very quickly. I feel a lot of resistance within me, along with a great deal of doubt that I can do it effectively, but I'm putting one foot in front of another and inching into this bewildering territory. I have a Facebook author's page, thanks to my sister. I also have a newsletter and a website. I'm registered on Goodreads and Bookbub. I've entered a couple of contests -- both have massive numbers of entries, but the numbers aren't as high as the truly mind-boggling number of books available on Amazon. I will spend a little time each day furthering my knowledge of what writers do to get noticed, and taking a few more steps forward. (I hope that's the direction I'm going in, at any rate. Never underestimate the power of hope!) In the meantime, I will also carve out enough time to move ahead with my second book, although that too is tricky. As much as I love writing, I have daily obligations that claim large chunks of my time, and I have to get out of my desk chair and move around from time to time. I need to breathe the air on the other side of the window in order to feed the thing within me that lets me tell stories. I also need to experience the storytelling of others, whether through books, TV or movies. I'm reading The Gods Themselves right now. I have a long reading list that's populated with classics I somehow never got around to, and books by lesser-known authors that seem interesting, including some by almost complete unknowns like myself. My list grows much faster than I can read. It's probably safe to assume that if my book has made it to other people's reading lists, it has at least as much competition as the books on mine. As for TV, I'm currently enjoying True Detective and I Am the Night. I'm looking forward to the next seasons of Game of Thrones, The Vikings, Lost in Space and Stranger Things. I've watched eight of the nine nominees for best picture Oscars, and I intend to see The Favourite before the show. I can't say I'm rooting for any of the films I've seen to win. They're all good in their way, but none has stirred my soul. I want to see something truly exciting on the big screen again -- it's been a long time. I want to see an epic hero's journey -- is that asking too much? Now that I am a published novelist myself, I find that when I experience the stories of others, I can't avoid daydreaming about mine. I wonder about The Darkest Eyes' destiny. Will it ever be in more than one person's hands on a commuter train, like Harry Potter? Will it ever be a series on TV, like Outlander? Will I see it splashed on the big screen in CGI glory that even I can't imagine, like Lord of the Rings? I wonder and then I hope -- and I hope big. Although it's the exception, I will confess that I have received some negative feedback on my writing. One prospective reviewer was kind enough to let me know that she had decided not to read it after being turned off by some of the early descriptive passages that "veered on purple prose." I appreciated her candor. Her reaction led me to a deeper exploration of genre, as I felt that perhaps she had expected the book to follow certain rules, and because it did not, it seemed flawed. Maybe I was rationalizing, but it did lead me to the conclusion that I should present The Darkest Eyes as cross-genre mainstream fiction instead of trying to create a genre-based marketing pitch that would not represent it faithfully. After reaching that conclusion and feeling I had just made an important shift, I went to the kitchen for a cup of tea. My son was there, watching a tiny creature performing antics on the counter. "Look -- a jumping spider," he said. Just like me, I thought. ***
If you would like to read the first full chapter of my second book -- the story of a desperate struggle to preserve magic from annihilation -- fill out the contact form at the bottom of my home page, with "Send Chapter 1" as the subject.