I don’t know that I’ve ever written about this here, but in 2006, I decided that I wanted to be an author. I don’t mean writing on the side or writing for fun like I have done and currently do; I mean writing (fiction) as a main source of income. A lot of people have dreams like that from when they were just wee, tiny humans, but I was in college and 20 years old by then.
Obviously, writing is something that is difficult to break into, so I wasn’t about to change my major to English or anything. After all, I wasn’t – and still am not – very confident about it. I knew as soon as I made that decision that doing IT stuff would likely always be my main source of income, but that it still couldn’t hurt to try to chase a dream.
I started writing my first novel almost exactly at this time in 2006. The story was actually pretty good, but the writing was genuinely terrible. It took me years to finish it (like until 2011), because I wrote it on and off and in between writing other things, many of which can be found on my fiction blog. By the end of the novel, I knew the writing was terrible, and I still went back and edited it three times for the experience, and I think that was the right thing to do. Recently, I went back and rewrote the first chapter, and decided that I may even eventually rewrite the whole thing, because I truly like how the story turned out. But that’s beside the point.
When I started my real job, I fell into what is probably the normal realization of most working people that “Oh God, this is my life for the next 40ish years,” and I realized how important my writing could be to me. I never traveled when I was younger, and the farthest I’ve ever been from home is North Carolina. I wanted to go places, and I still do, but work ties me down. As a writer, I could just pack up and go somewhere, and as long as I wrote, it would be a legitimate work expense. I still dream of being able to do that, especially now, because that flexibility would be amazing for visiting Sam.
Right near New Year’s Eve of last year, I started writing a different novel. It’s not the second novel I started writing, but it was the second one I finished. What I learned from writing the first novel, I adjusted and applied to this one, as well as all of the gradual writing changes I’d made from my ridiculously sappy fiction. Over the course of five weeks, I wrote an 80,000 word novel that I’m pretty happy with. I think my writing could still be better and that my storytelling could use refinement and better planning, but I finished it in an incredibly short amount of time (which I believe had no impact on quality, because I still wrote it at my own pace), edited it once, and I wasn’t ashamed of it.
I put it aside for a month, then went back and edited it again. Then I edited it for the third and final time before publishing it on Smashwords and Amazon in late April. The day after publishing it, I got an email from Smashwords saying that I’d sold a copy, and I was ecstatic. Even if that was the only copy I sold, I felt really excited just from the one sale.
I didn’t get any more emails from Smashwords, and never got anything from Amazon, so I figured that was that. Then this morning, I read Brian’s comment on my last blog post that he’d done some sleuthing, found my novel, and bought it. I checked my email, and I had no notification of any purchases, so I logged into my Amazon account. After poking around for a few minutes, I realized that I’d actually sold about three copies of the novel, as well as about three copies of a short story I’d posted late last year just to test out the Amazon ebook publication process. Apparently, unlike Smashwords, Amazon does not send out emails when someone purchases an ebook from you.
So needless to say, I was pretty happy to find this out. I sold my 80,000 word novel and my 5,000 word short story for the same price, so this tells me a lot, and I think I’m ready to start taking this way more seriously. I realize the numbers that I sold weren’t big or impressive, but the fact that six people using Amazon randomly found and decided to purchase things I’ve written is very amazing and interesting to me, especially because both things were published under different pseudonyms and were of vastly different lengths.