One Year after twenty

This blog began about a year ago as I started to replicate what I was told I had to do to begin marketing my first novel. I was told I had to have a website, someplace to describe myself and my work. It was a clumsy first post as I tried to find my voice.

Voice is what animates anything we write. It can be a passion, a goal, a journey, a cause célèbre, a drive to communicate with someone other than our own inner voice. I am still searching for my voice in this blog.

They Met at Shiloh

I published my first novel in November of 2011 in both paperback and Kindle format. I sold my first Kindle eBook to someone who has become a good friend and fellow author for the ridiculous price of $9.99. His was to become my first review. He was a brave man, buying an eBook at that price from a random Facebook posting. That first review has over 27 votes and is the top review yet of the 20 I now have. I knew little of how to market at that point and even less of how to find my audience. In November 2011 I had a few free kindle titles on my iPad and very little knowledge about how Amazon was better at selling Amazon than I would be. My wife and I hit publish and hoped that we would figure it out as we went along. I knew one other person at this point who had self published and she was an old friend who had finally written and published her first work a year before. I sold one whole eBook that month, November 2011.

It is December 2012. A year and a month have gone by in a journey I undertook twenty one years before in college to write a novel with all of my friends as characters set in a civil war battle. I never finished it. Twelve years later I undertook to rewrite the novel from scratch and for the next eight years worked on it on the odd weekend or trip, in coffee houses and in hotel rooms, airplanes, and cars. I wanted to finish it. Other than having written stories or stage plays for fun most of my life I had little to go on other than instinct with this rewrite. I knew the story I wanted to tell and I learned to let the story tell itself. I wanted the soldiers to speak their minds and speak about what comradeship and loss meant to them. I wanted confederate and federal to tell why they volunteered and treat both sides with equality of voice, not turning all confederates into antagonists and all federals into protagonists. Men volunteered to follow their own ideas of patriotism and duty and each believed they were serving a higher cause.

I was doubtful that I’d succeeded. The story was written from stream of consciousness and from the point of view of each character, allowing the thoughts and fears, doubts and struggles to be laid out for the reader to experience along with the fright and rush that was civil war combat. The majority of the reviews have confirmed a level of success in that endeavor, that the reviewer was transported int the ranks and experienced the life of the soldier and experienced the common faith that most soldiers shared on either side.

This year has been an eye opener. Many say that you need four things in order to sell an eBook. A good cover, a good book, a good blurb and luck. Now most would say that it is the luck part that can make the difference between a huge seller and an average seller. I do not know if I fit the huge seller or the average even, but we met our goal for this year financially and that was a big thing. It was luck that KDP Select was introduced and for the first part of the year the Amazon selling environment favored the extra exposure from a successful free giveaway.

As I ready my first book launch (we unceremoniously launched They Met at Shiloh with no plan and no promotion) this next year and finish my third novel I do look forward to what 2013 will bring.

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