First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to offer a large and heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every one of my Parlor City Paradise beta readers. Your feedback thus far has been invaluable and absolutely spot on. I haven’t heard from everybody just yet, but the comments and criticisms I’ve received are sufficient to allow me to soon begin what I hope will be a final round of revisions. Overall impressions have been extremely favorable, which is certainly reassuring, but some changes to dialogue, character development and plot structure will be made. I can’t go into detail because, obviously, most people haven’t read it yet and I don’t want to give anything away. Maybe I’ll post a brief excerpt soon so those interested can read a bit and begin to get a feel for the book. All I will tell you for now is that, in terms of tone and literary style, it is a fairly significant departure from A Shot at Redemption.
When I first began researching how to become a successful independently published author, it immediately became clear that it really can’t be done. Okay, that’s not entirely true but most self published authors, heck, most authors in general fail to achieve commercial success. That was the case even before publishing became so accessible; and now that book publishing is only slightly more complicated than registering for a Netflix account, you can take the old failure rate and multiply it by a few million and that’s probably low balling it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic that anyone and everyone can get their work into the marketplace. However, how can an author even hope to stand out when the shelf he or she is fighting for space on is expanding at a universal rate?
In case you’re wondering, that question has no easy answer. There are plenty of books on the subject, as well as blogs, forums, podcasts, etc. Curiously, the majority of those authors and podcast hosts are struggling for a little elbow room on that very same shelf. In other words, despite all the expert advice, they don’t know either. The industry is changing so rapidly that nothing is tried and true, at least not for very long. I did a lot of reading, listening and thinking and I came up with three simple rules.
A Shot at Redemption took nearly a decade to complete. That is, to put it bluntly, unsatisfactory. I needed to get a whole lot more efficient or find something else to do.
Rule #2—Do Good Work
That may sound overly basic but it’s absolutely critical. I purchased a book by a self published author not long ago. It was so full of punctuation errors, grammar errors and generally poor writing that I couldn’t make it beyond the first chapter. Needless to say, I will never buy from that author again. No author has ever gotten rich by selling one book. You get my point? Sure, I need to increase my production rate but it’s equally important, probably more important that I maintain a certain level of quality. That starts with the book cover and carries right through to the final page. I know I will never be incredibly prolific. I just don’t work that way. That means my books have to be worth waiting for.
Rule #3—Develop a Brand
Unfortunately, this is where things begin to fall apart for me. My first novel came out in early 2014. I could conceivably release two new books this year. I don’t want to break my arm patting myself on the back but I’d like to think each book is as good as the others. So, to the best of my abilities, I have covered Rules 1 and 2. However, many of the more successful fiction authors built their foundation on a popular series. In essence, they created their own niche. Do that well and you’ve got yourself a loyal fan base. Not only are all three of my books stand-alones, they are not even in the same genre. A Shot at Redemption is a mystery or thriller. Pick whichever label you prefer. Parlor City Paradise is suspense. Okay, they’re different but also sort of similar. Then I go completely off the reservation with 21 Sundays of Fantastic Football Food. The labels most suitable for that are nonfiction, humor, sports and cookbook. Most of those things don’t even go together. So far, the closest I’ve come to developing a brand is injecting my own personality into everything I do. Will that be good enough? Time will tell.
If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or my Turn the Page book review blog. Visit michaelsova.com, or find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Also, please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption, and look for my new suspense novel, Parlor City Paradise, due out in 2016.