Monday, December 31, 2012

See ya later, 2012

December 31 marks a milestone for everyone, right? We all have a tendency to take stock as one year ends and another begins, and I'm nothing if not predictable, so here goes.

Three years ago yesterday I signed the contract with Medallion Press for publication of my first book, FINAL VECTOR. Each year since then has seen a steady progression of my writing career, and this year was no different.

In terms of sales, 2012 was successful beyond my wildest imagination, thanks mostly to the lightning-bolt success in February of my thriller, THE LONELY MILE, which peaked at #21 overall in the paid store at Amazon and resulted in 12,000 sales for the month.

With that as the springboard, sales of all my work totaled nearly 14,500 copies. When you add in the free giveaway promos we did over the course of the year, which came to well over 60,000 copies, in 2012 more than 75,000 copies of my novels and novellas found their way into people's hands.

I know, I know, when you do a giveaway, lots of people download the books and never get around to reading them. Guess what? I don't care. If even ten percent of the people who downloaded one of my books for free decides to give it a try, more than 7500 people were introduced to my name and my work this year.

That's a win, as far as I'm concerned.

***

What did I learn this year? Here it is: Nobody knows anything. When I signed with Medallion, I wanted to give myself the best possible chance to be successful, so I was conscientious about researching what was expected of me as a brand-new novelist.

- The general consensus was that an author needed to be active on social media like Facebook, to maintain a presence. I made sure to do it.

- The general consensus was that an author needed to blog regularly to bring attention to his or her work. I made sure to do it.

- The general consensus was that an author needed to do blog tours to bring his or her work to the attention of new readers. I made sure to do it.

- The general consensus was that an author needs to hustle for reviews, because the more reviews your work has, the more likely it is to be "discovered." I made sure to do it.

Wanna know what I found out? None of it makes a damned bit of difference, at least not in more than a very general - and very minor - way. All these things I tried did little more than take valuable time away from what's important: writing.

Success, at least in terms of sales, is largely dependent upon things out of the author's control, at least any author who is not a household name. What is much more valuable than any of the above things, in my opinion, is writing!

Writing more accomplishes two things: It helps the writer improve, because like anything else you only get better with practice. Plus, producing more work gives you a better chance to be noticed, and in so doing have your work catch on with a reading public inundated with choices.

Remember, though, nobody knows anything, including me, so treat the above with the healthy skepticism it deserves.

By the way, some of the stuff I still do because I enjoy it. Facebook, for example. I love interacting with readers and other writers. But now I do it when I want to, not because I think I need to simply to advance my writing career.

***

Each year of this journey has seen an exponential growth in sales of my work. It will be hard to continue that trend in 2013, given the success of THE LONELY MILE last February, but I'm excited about the coming year. On January 15, my Cold War thriller, PARALLAX VIEW, will be released, and although I'm understandably prejudiced in favor of this book, I think with a little luck it could be a big success. It's exciting and fun and filled with action.

Within a couple of months after that, my horror/paranormal suspense novel, MR. MIDNIGHT, will be released. It's not quite ready for prime time yet, but I'm working hard on it and when all is said and done, I think it could be big as well.

Beyond that, I hope to finish the third book in my PASKAGANKEE series this year, as well as work on a followup to PARALLAX VIEW, featuring kickass CIA heroine Tracie Tanner.

A busy year upcoming? Absolutely, but I'm having a blast writing and am nothing but excited about the prospects moving forward.

***

It wouldn't be an end-of-year manifesto without thanking a few people:

First, my wife, Sue, who encourages my writing and never, ever, falls preys to my constant and unrelenting conviction that my work sucks and I'm one bad review away from the whole tenuous writing career I've built falling apart like a house of cards.

Aaron Patterson and StoneHouse Ink. This is a guy who has his own very successful writing career, but who sacrifices time on his own work to help others succeed. He singlehandedly built StoneHouse Ink on instincts and business sense into a mega-growing indie publishing powerhouse. I'm proud to be associated with Aaron and StoneHouse and look forward to big things ahead for him.

Writers I admire and am inspired by. It's a varied group and includes people like Lawrence Block, Brad Thor, Vincent Zandri, Heath Lowrance, CJ Lyons, Robert Bidinotto and many others.

And finally, readers - every single person who has given one of my books a chance, especially if he or she spent their hard-earned money to do so. I am honestly humbled by the fact you gave me the opportunity to entertain you and will never take that for granted. I'm going to work even harder this coming year to prove myself worthy of that opportunity.

***

Happy New Year. Here's to a happy, healthy, safe and productive 2013. Let's buck the odds and make this the best year of our lives.

1 comment:

Jim Wilsky said...

Allan,

Just wanted to drop in and thank you for letting me guest post over here this year. It was a pleasure and an honor to get to know you.

You've had a great year and I wish you another one. Don't be a stranger okay? I need to know I can drop your name when I need to impress somebody!

-Jim