Friday, October 28, 2011

Chapter 3: One Novelist’s Journey To Self Publication

Bumps and Jolts On This Publishing Journey
By Mark Young
How many of you thought I died eight months ago after writing the last chapter in this on-going saga about self publishing—you know, that would be author who published one book and was never heard from again.

“Well, I’m back”, I say, echoing the words of Sam Gamgee in the last spoken line of J.R.R. Tolkeins’s novel, Return of the King. Still alive and kicking.

This publishing journey has been a real kick—sometimes in the pants, sometimes a jolt of joy. Just to recap:  I came out with the Revenge eBook last January, and I planned on releasing a print version—compliments of Amazon’s CreateSpace—a few months later.  Plans often go awry.  A crashed computer, archaic format programs, and a few other bumps in the road delayed release of the print book until this month.

Hey, it’s a learning process, right?

Here are a few things I discovered:
  • Spend a part of every working day trying to get someone, somewhere, to review or write about your novel. Beg, plead, do whatever it takes—short of  being rude or obnoxious—to get the word out about your novel. Devote at least a part of every working day toward this goal.
  • Prepare yourself for a marathon. It is an uphill struggle the whole way, and this struggle will continue into the foreseeable future and beyond. When will it end? Who knows?  Probably when they plant me in the ground.
  •   Enjoy those successes that come your way, no matter how small. A kind word about the novel left by a reader. A sudden spurt in sales one day, knowing that tomorrow your sales may flatten out again. Small triumphs in learning new ways to do your job, like getting Amazon to finally merge your eBook and print book on the same page, or getting the meta data entries down so the Library of Congress and ISBN sources jive.
  • Shake off the disappointments and continue to persevere.  Such things as looking at your sales record for the last week and realize the total number of sales equals the chance you book has of placing on the NYT’s Bestseller list for the same time period=0. Just remember—you could still be sitting there, sending out queries and submissions, and watching your mailbox fill up with letters of disappointment. At least someone, somewhere, is reading your stuff.

Since last spring, I have seen my eBook sales rise, fall, and begin to rise again. Part of that was an early interest by a number of people to read the novel. In early summer, I bit my nails watching sales begin to wane. After a month of decline, I decided to lower the price and almost immediately began to see sales rise again. As those number rose, I noticed something else of interest. Hollywood released a television series with the same name as my novel. I saw sales take a little spike, although I don’t know if it was connected to this TV show or whether it was a result of my lowering the price.

As all this unfolded, I began working on the December release of my next novel, OFF THE GRID: A Gerrit O’Rourke Novel. I have developed a checklist for each new novel, to include all the steps an indie author must take to get the next title out there. I began coordinating with others for editing services, design cover, and formatting for both eBook and print—all those services that fall beyond my area of expertise.

Like all of you, I must continually take a look at everything that must be done and determine what I can do—and, more importantly, what I can’t do. One of the most difficult decisions was whether to continue with this blog. At first, when I felt overwhelmed, I thought of killing this blog as I tried to build a web site and create a second blog simply titled Mark Young.  However, I just could not pull the trigger on Hook’em and Book’em. In order to keep this blog alive, I plan on publishing at least one article a month here while writing for my other blog and writing guest articles elsewhere as opportunities arise. But Hook’em and Book’em will remain alive, rescued from a one-way ride on the coroner’s wagon.

If everything goes as planned, I will release OFF THE GRID—an international thriller—as an eBook in December, closely followed by a print version. If any readers out there are interested in reviewing this novel, just click on this email link and I’ll put you on a list to receive a free copy when the formatted eBook becomes available. Those of you who want to wait until the print version comes out can also leave a message—I’ll give out a limited number of free print copies for review. After all, I’m an indie author counting his pennies, not a John Grisham whose first print runs into the millions. Just promise to post a review on Amazon, and anywhere else you might be able to spread the word on this digital highway. Here is the backcover copy so you all know what you’re signing up for:

Live OFF THE GRID … or die.

Seven years ago, U.S. Marine Gerrit O’Rourke returned from Iraq after learning his parents died in a Seattle car bombing. When a manhunt turns up empty, Gerrit joins that city’s police department to find those responsible and bring them to justice—one way or another.

Still searching for leads today, Gerrit travels undercover to a European city on what he believes to be a matter of national security.  He soon learns, however, nothing is what it appears—including his parents’ deaths. Contacted by a mysterious woman, Alena Shapiro, Gerrit discovers his life is in danger because he continues to seek the truth. Confused by Alena’s warning and strange events he encountered in Europe, Gerrit returns home where his own world is blown apart. People close to him end up dead.

Gerrit and Alena must combine forces with others to live off the grid as they try to uncover an international conspiracy that reaches to the highest level of government in several countries. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, they must survive to expose a conspiracy to breach national security codes that might launch World War III. Time is running out—for Gerrit, for Alena … for the world.

By the way, anyone who has read REVENGE and would like to simply click a Like button on Amazon can follow this link and leave their digital footprint right now. I would be very grateful. As for those of you who procrastinated, you can use the same link and down load a copy right now.

Enough of the sales talk.  I hope you will join me here on Hook’em and Book’em as we meet other authors and cops along this writing journey, and I share more about this publishing  journey. See you next month!


  1. Well done, Mark. You are following a well thought out and disciplined plan, which is what it takes to gain any headway in this game. Thanks for sharing the particulars with us.

  2. Glad to hear from you again! Your journey sounds familiar :-) And you are absolutely right- every little victory counts. Looking forward to Off the Grid!

  3. JSB: I learned from the best. Thanks for your encouragement, Jim.

    Paula: Sometimes you have to stop and think about what is a 'victory.' Everyday a writer can write and share with others is a good day.

  4. Glad to hear you're keeping this blog going and getting ready to publish the next book! I really enjoyed Revenge, and I'm looking forward to Off the Grid.

    Many blessings!

  5. Thanks, Brian. Just for your information, OTG's first chapter opens up near your neck of the woods ... off the Seattle shoreline.

  6. Mark, I must confess that I did wonder what happened to you. Glad you're back. Off The Grid sounds great. Can't wait.

    Btw, I lost your email address. If you'd like to guest blog in December, please email me at Joan at JoanReeves dot com. Put REAL LIVE PERSON -- guest blogger in the subject box.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  7. Thanks, Joan. I'll shoot you an email.