Happy Birthday, Defectors: My First Book Turns 1 Year Old

As I’m finishing up edits on my next book, I’ve been thinking about everything I’ve done in the past year and how my very first book  just turned 1 year old.

A year ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no readers, no books out, and no idea that this whole author thing would begin to take over my life.

So what’s changed in a year? Almost everything.

For one thing, the entire Defectors Trilogy is out. I’ve expanded from Amazon to other retailers, and I’m in the process of getting all the books in print. When the first book in The Fringe series comes out, I’ll have a much better plan for distribution and releasing the print version.

I no longer write in 15-minute bursts whenever I have time. Writing is a set part of my life now. It’s the first thing I do every single day, and whenever I sit down to write, I feel like I am in the right place doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Another thing that’s changed is that I now have a small but awesome group of readers who are just as excited about the books as I am. This is EVERYTHING as a writer.

Even though I’d probably still be writing if everyone hated what I was doing, I don’t know if I could keep publishing without the support of people who read, review, and write to me about the books. I consider myself a very intrinsically motivated person, but the truth is, writers need to know they’re being read and that what they produce matters to someone. If you’re reading this, guys, those nice emails are what have kept me going for the past year.

I’ve also been lucky enough to get feedback and support from other writers. I always assumed that being an author was pretty much a solo venture, and for the most part, it is. (As someone who’s always loathed “networking,” I was totally fine with that.) But I’ve been amazed by how small and tight-knit the indie author community is and how much they are willing to give back. I’ve joined an awesome author mastermind, my local writers’ guild, and made friends with other like-minded writers who are willing to help me. It’s awesome.

In the past year, I’ve really started to think of my writing as a business. I know it sounds dirty. I don’t consider myself a business-y person, but this year has taught me that being an author is a legitimate business. My reaction was something like this: People are willing to pay me for what I write? People are willing to pay me for what I write!

Let’s do this thing.

As a lover of anything I can color-code in a Google spreadsheet, I’ve become pretty enthusiastic about tracking my data, making business projections, and thinking about this long term.

Finally, I’ve learned that I want everything I create to be entertaining as hell. I’ve always loved books and TV and movies. I enjoy the classics, but I also love “junk food” entertainment. Exposure to a broad range of books and TV shows has made me think of myself as a writer who is neither painstakingly “literary” nor willing to pander to the über-cheap BuzzFeedification of books. I want my books to be smart and sexy, which means I want to write stories you can’t put down. But when you’re finished with a book or a series, I want you to feel like you had a good meal.

The good news is that publishing is changing almost as fast as I am. Indie author Hugh Howey recently wrote a post about the advantages of being exclusive to Amazon, when the dominant way of thinking for the past year or two has been to spread your books far and wide to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc.

I’m very excited to see where the next year takes me and how many readers I can add to my tribe.