Thursday 13 August 2015

14 Unexpected "After You Publish" Moments

If you are an indie author, several things happen after you publish. Some of them unexpected.

Your friends might say, "I bought your book. I'm already on chapter 18 and can't wait to finish it." But, they are more apt to say, "I started your book and I'm almost all the way through chapter 1," as if, due to the tediousness of the task, this is an outstanding achievement. Then, afraid that you might continually check on their progress, they will add, "I plan to read a paragraph a day." Making you wonder how your playful action/adventure story could burn people out like this.

In March, my sister, Lindy, and her family decided to read a chapter of my novel at the dinner table every time they all got together. Her kids are young adults with school, jobs and active social lives. Turns out, they are hardly ever all assembled at dinner, at the same time. Two months later, they reached chapter four. Because they are my family with a genetic disposition to being silly, and perhaps because they were all home schooled, they had decided to act each scene out, as they read. When they came to the part where the protagonist has sex with a nun, there was an awkward silence and progress such as it was, ground to a halt.

The statement from your friend: "I'm giving every one of my friends a copy of your book as a Christmas present, this year," will eventually make you wonder if you are their only friend.

You watch your book sit at #100,000 ranking on Amazon for a week as all of your friends and relatives purchase. Then it begins to sink. It hits #1,000,000 and you feel you've probably hit rock bottom. Then, suddenly, you're at #5,000,000.

How low can it go? Well, the lowest ranked Amazon's book I could find is:  at 12million.

In general, you'll probably bottom out at about 5-6M mark. Amazon uses a complex and secret algorithm to determine rank, but to sink much lower your book will have to have absolutely no sales and no relevance to anyone living.

Apparently, Amazon has over 17 million books in its database, although the highest number ranking claimed to have been seen is around 14 million. If my math is correct (which is never a given), then this means that a book ranked 500,000 is in the 3%. Your book, at 5 million, is still in the top 30% of all the books in Amazon's database!

 You will check your stats and discover that you have sold about 5% of the books that you thought, based on the people who told you they'd bought a copy and hits on your website. It will make you suspect the entire Amazon system. It could be the system. But probably not. In either case, you have no ability to truly audit that system. Move on.

You will continue to update your blog and think about the next big novel. Though your writing is clever and you make yourself laugh a lot, you will continue to have only 4 blog followers. Friends will read the first paragraph of the first blog with a title that catches their interest. One day, you will come across a Facebook friend who you vaguely know who has actually read all of your blogs. This will be at once flattering and depressing as there are good reasons that the two of you are not close.

A friend's 8-year-old daughter will start a blog about how she likes to play with My Little Pony figures and, almost overnight, will get 150,000 hits. YouTube will email, begging her to monetize her videos. 

You will come to realize just how much time writing robs you from your family and other less stressful pursuits and wonder how foolish you are to keep pursuing it for no money.

As my good friend and fellow writer Dan recently said, "If doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, then by definition, publishing a second novel is insane."

People will start introducing you as an author which will make you blush and confused because it sounds so pretentious and yet it's true and so few people actually write a novel... and yet you had to pay to do it. And yet, it's still true. And yet, you're still a Walmart greeter.

After being introduced as an author, it will become apparent how few people read these days. You will realize that your book is trying to reach a niche market that is part of a market that is already niche: "Those who still read books."

You will be elected to write a commencement speech for your niece's graduation ceremony and suddenly, because you are now a "writer" the pressure will be immense and you'll get writer's block and stall and pray she fails her finals but will end up writing a decent speech, three days before the event... after consuming half a bottle of Sake.

People will offer you story ideas as if a lack of ideas is the thing stopping you from rattling off 100 blockbuster novels. In fact, too many ideas pulling you in 50 directions at once is more the problem. Fortunately, their ideas will not add to your problem because they all suck. Only you have the truly good ideas.

You will frequent coffee shops and talk loudly about writing and literature so that pretty young girls sitting close by might overhear and think of you as intriguing and, perhaps, sexy as opposed to somebody's perverted granddad. The pretty young girls can't hear you because they have earbuds in under their long, silky, blond hair. You will notice this as they get up to move to a table out of your line of sight.


After 8 months of diligently blogging you wonder if you are missing a huge opportunity by not monetize your blog, using Google Adsense. So you will let Google place ads alongside in return for which Google will automatically set aside cash for you, based on the number of clicks they generate. Two months later, you will check on your earnings. They will be 24¢.

One day, you may be scrolling through Facebook posts—which, by the way, may well be a valid part of the writing process, for all anyone knows—and find that you have a fan. Try to remain calm, like I did.

One day, while you sit writing in your office, you go online to research something and discover that someone who read your book has pulled a quote and pasted the words over a suitable background picture and released it online.

You are suddenly proud to have slaved over your novel and happy to now be sitting in your office slaving over the next one. Also, you have a steaming cup of coffee with a generous dose of Bailey's Irish Cream close by. And you're naked.

Hey, if you have to be working on a Sunday...


Maybe #15 can be...
you bought my time travel, action/adventure novel!


  1. "When they came to the part where the protagonist has sex with a nun, there was an awkward silence and progress such as it was, ground to a halt."


    I signed up just to say this.

    1. Thanks for reading, Quentin. Your input is always welcomed and often invaluable. Not this time... but often. :^)