Yesterday I had a strange email arrive which I couldn’t quite believe. I thought it was a mistake, I dreaded the message behind the Subject line and reluctantly clicked on it.
Before I tell you what was in that email, let me step back and tell you why this email was important.
As you know I’ve been writing for a while now–the archives of this website go back 11 years (to date)–so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone! Well, in recent years, I’ve managed to get my focus, skills, and patience together to actually write some full and publishable stories which I lovingly refer to (in inverted commas) as ‘Books’. This is part of the problem. Whilst I’m qualified in the craft of creative writing to call myself a professional, and a writer, I’m struggling to call myself an Author or a Novelist. For me, an author is someone who not only sells books (anyone can do that) but is someone who receives praise for their work as well.
Despite this, I continued the long slow path of publication steps:
- I wrote the words
- Edited them
- Published them (wide)
- Built a website (including a shop to buy direct – slim hope!)
- Started my (loose) social media strategy
… and, recently I just finished editing and publication of my 3rd title Pool Staker.
Sales to date: zero.
Now, I know I haven’t promoted them at all yet, but I figured I might at least get a few sales organically by people stumbling across my titles and giving them a go. But no. I wasn’t entirely happy with my completed branding of the 3 titles, so I decided to make changes to the interior font-size, line-spacing, front and back matter, which meant the page count had changed so I needed to redo the covers. After I’d finished all of them, I got an author copy each from KDP print and had them delivered.
With my books in my hands, it really feels like I’m a proper author (with a small ‘a’, that is). I also decided that I needed to write more and get better before properly promoting them and trying to shift a few copies. I know for a full promotion strategy, I would need to release my titles frequently to a publishing schedule and make the most of the traffic momentum, so I decided to remove the books from everywhere.
I logged into my Draft2Digital and KDP account and unpublished everything.
I was now an unpublished author, ha! Which is a little weird as my first book The Blocks was published in 2016 (it’s now 2018). So, now let’s fast-forward to yesterday…
The email I received was for a sale from my website! I thought, oh no, there’s been a mistake. But the email was a confirmation of the sale from my Website form and a notification of shipment email required for a buyer in Greece. I couldn’t quite believe it.
I wondered how on earth they had managed to buy something which wasn’t for sale – I’d removed it everywhere – or so I thought. It turns out that it was gone from everywhere, accept on my website. There’s no link to it from the homepage, so Google must have sent a searcher to an old page I’d left up.
I logged in to my site and checked my account, sure enough, a sale had gone through on a book page I’d left up. George from Greece didn’t even get his book as I hadn’t added the epub file for download! I was so shocked, I had already started forming the apology email in my head and wondering how to reverse the charge.
Then I noticed it had been bought late in the evening, 9.30 pm, and that if I was quick, I could zip up the file and send it to him before he even realised there had been an error. Particularly as I’d included postal address fields in my checkout form and didn’t explain fully that I would be sending a digital download!
So I fixed the site and sent the file off.
When George replied, he was full of praise and again my jaw was on the floor, not being able to believe that someone had enjoyed my story.
I’m now in this very weird position of being a writer (with a small ‘w’) who has written, published, sold, and received praise for his work.
Am I now allowed to call myself an author (with a large A)? I’m still in shock. Off the back of this, I’ve spent my morning tarting up my website, placing all three books up for sale with better images, details, and pricing, and getting rid of lots of duff content from my blog and pages. Just on the off chance that someone else finds my books.
*Phew* It’s been a busy weird morning. I’m now still in shock and wonder what to do next.
I really wasn’t prepared for this day.
Mark Mapstone is a skateboarder, a writer, and author of the Ethan Wares Skateboard Series books.
Follow Mark on Instagram: @7plywood
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