Well, at least it’s my Austen Authors Birthday.
One whole year since I started this journey with you all. When discussing this post, my husband suggested something along the lines of
“What a difference a year makes, so many new experiences and friends. I’ve grown in ways I never thought possible and cannot wait for what the next year has to offer. Webster’s dictionary defines progress as …”
A bit cheesy, but that’s my clownfish 😉 The hard part with cheesy cliches and memes and tropes is that there’s a significant thread of truth in them. That’s why they keep coming up. Why every high school commencement speech sounds like it was written by the same person.
So, what has changed this year? In July 2021, I had just started seriously considering publishing my first novel. I had engaged with a developmental editor that my already published friend suggested, signed up for a self-publishing course online, and started making a marketing plan. The absolute hardest part was starting a social media presence. I might technically be a millennial but only by the skin of my teeth – I believe I’m actually a geriatric millennial or a member of the micro-generation deemed the Oregon Trail Generation. I was in college when Facebook was still “The FaceBook” and didn’t ever have a twitter account until becoming an author.
So, learning that most self-published book marketing takes place on social media was terrifying.
I’m sure that I have made some mistakes. Maybe one day I’ll tell you all the story about Goodwin’s law and my Storm Haus Logo. However, for the most part, I think I’ve actually done pretty well. So, in the style of the valedictorian of all our graduation experiences, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the progress I’ve made, the amazing community here, and what’s next for me.
If you have been following me since the beginning, you’ll know that I started writing in 2015 after graduating from law school and taking the bar exam. I started writing stories and fan fiction as an outlet. I had been in graduate school for four years, earning a masters degree and a JD, and had been required to read more than 100 pages then write case briefs & memos of upwards of 2,000 words per day. Then I took the bar exam and it all just stopped.
I was stuck at home with an 18-month old baby and NOTHING TO DO.
When I considered going back to graduate school, I realized I had needed to increase the speed at which I read in order to survive the quantity of work to complete law school, so I started reading fan fiction on certain free websites like LiveJournal and Archive of Our Own. That’s where I first found the world of Jane Austen Variations.
Some of my favorite authors still today are people I started following online. After getting a Scribd account for a school project, I really figured out how many really great books were available in the Austenesque space. I started seeking out books by the authors in this group and other giants in the genre. Ebooks were kind of just becoming a big part of the industry and I was averaging more than one book per week on my new Kindle.
So, in the boredom and nervous energy of waiting to find out if I passed the bar (which took 8 weeks to find out the results and thank all the pantheon of gods I passed and didn’t have to do that again), I picked up my laptop and starting writing.
I was terrible at first, but who isn’t bad at something they literally just decided to start. Typos, sentence fragments, run-ons, misused phrases and words, overly dramatic character reactions, clichés – you name the writing sin and I committed it. But I kept up with it and started posting on Archive of Our Own. Each chapter I wrote and posted got better. Eventually, I had over 1,000 likes on my silly little story. The positive feedback was addictive. So, I kept writing the kinds of stories I liked to read and kept posting them for friends and family to find online. This went on for about six years.
Then came March 2021 when I found out that someone had pirated one of my books. I had hundreds of messages on my author account saying that my book was on Kindle Unlimited under a different name.
Now comes to the first expression of how amazing this community is. Before I was even aware of what had happened, the Jane Austen variations community had already mass reported the bootlegged book and it was taken down from Amazon.
I probably should have been mad. Maybe one day I will be mad, but what I really felt was flattered.
And I decided that if someone thought my work was good enough to make money off of, maybe I could do it for real. I really made the decision in July 2021 to publish my first book and it went live on Amazon of February 3, 2022 – seven crazy months. When I started this journey more than seven years ago now, I thought that the hardest part would be fining 100K+ words to put down in a row that told something of a coherent story. I’ve since found out that writing the book was the easy part. Also, I don’t know why I though finding enough words for a full-length novel would be hard for me. None of my family and friends were overly surprised that I was able to spit out that much material (I’m a bit of a chit-chat). In fact my developmental editor is always trying to help me pair down from 130K to just under 100K before publication.
The hard part it turns out if all the other stuff – book covers (a good one, not just the title on a generic free downloaded picture), ISBNs, copyright filing, interior book design, different types of edits, ARC readers, reviews !!, and marketing. You also probably should become a professional photographer so that you can make attractive content for Instagram and Facebook, a professional copy editor so you can make effective ads on Amazon/FB/IG/Kobo/BookBub, a professional graphic designer unless you are going to pay someone to do the cover and interior for you, and it’s probably a good idea to purchase significant stock in your favorite brand of caffeinated beverage to keep you up all night in order to have time to get this all done in one lifetime.
Thankfully, I was able to find a really supportive author mentoring group, the women from WritePublishSell, and started here with the other Austen Authors. All of a sudden, I was launching Reputation, An Easy Thing to Lose and watching the sales and positive reviews come across.
To date, I have sold more than 2,200 books, a number which was incomprehensible to be just in January. My personal goal before launch was 1,000 copies sold by the one-year mark of the book’s release. I believe that much of that success is owed to this group of amazing and dedicated readers, for which I say a heartfelt Thank You.
So, what’s next?
Well, let me show you.
Cause to Repine
Release Date – March 1, 2023
I’d love to connect with you! Come find me in all the usual places: