Tomorrow is the scheduled release for the first of my Niki Hunter books, Chrysalis (if you haven’t been blasted enough already, you can find links for where to buy it over here).
The thing is, I didn’t start Niki’s tale with this book, and I didn’t set out to self publish it.
Chrysalis came about because although I had plenty of stories and arcs in my head for this kick ass but slightly broken heroine, she was too much like Athena. Fully formed and broken, but with no past to explain how she got here or why she did what she did. That rubbed me wrong for a long time, because it meant she had no justification or way for me to limit what she could do or couldn’t do. So I started toying with how she got to where she was in life (book three spoiler: wow). So I started sketching out her origin story. I wanted to start with the tame version, before life started knocking her around hard, before she walked into a bar dragging a bloody broad sword behind her and told the guy with the tactical shotgun to just get her a whisky.
I wanted to tell the story of her first spreading her wings. I wanted to tell the story of her emerging from her own chrysalis.
Last summer, as I was finishing Chrysalis, I decided to pull a trunk novel out and test the waters on Amazon with it. It was just sitting on my hard drive, and I figured any money it made was better than the space it was taking up. That experiment taught me a lot, some of which I even remembered to use this time around. Some.
- Copyediting is far more important than you think. I hired someone I knew in that field to do the work, and I don’t regret that decision.
- I am horrible at self promoting. In fact, I very much still am. I hate repeatedly asking people to buy my book, just as I hate other authors who do the same. But without any money for advertising, it’s one of the only avenues I have. Which is why there have been a flurry of tweets/facebook messages lately.
- Spell check it multiple times. I’d swear I checked that file top to bottom before first hitting publish, and yet on a recent clean up I *still* found mistakes.
- Iterate and move on. This one’s a lesson I learned from the day job at a startup – the secret to success is to put something out there, then put the next thing out there. Don’t dally on why the last one fell short, just work on making the next one better. It’s a lesson that was too soon to understand when I finished Chrysalis, but that I’ve kept at the front of my mind as I work on book two.
- Reviews are so important. Despite a handful of sales, plus a few thousand downloads during a freebie promotion, I have only a handful of reviews. Even though they are largely positive, new readers are less likely to take a chance on a book that has too few reviews.
So why self publish Chrysalis? Because I let the book sit for too long. After a year of kindly, supportive rejections from agents, I’m ready to move on with the story. Writing a series is like riding a train – once you’re on, you don’t want to get off at every stop and hope there’s another one coming. Now that I’m back into the swing of writing Niki’s books, I want to get them out there and share them. I can’t do that if I’m hiding in a corner looking for an agent. No one was interested in representing for this series; that’s fine. I have other books in me that they might be interested in later on, but for right now I’d like to finish writing this one and get it out there for you all.
So, tomorrow, when Chrysalis comes out, buy my book. I’ve kept the price as low as I could and still see any return (and the paperback version less so – it’s just so expensive to get them printed, I didn’t dare raise the price enough to make much back on those sales). And if you do that, and you read the book – please, please, leave a review on the site where you bought it. Bonus points, let me know about the review. I don’t care if it’s good or bad or indifferent. Reviews drive readers, and readers drive me to write.