It’s been almost nine months since I self-published my debut novel, QUEEN HENRY. The last few months have truly been a dream come true. Thus far, the whole experience has surpassed my expectations, which I purposely kept on the low side…just in case.
I had spent twenty years as a writer, both as a wannabe screenwriter and novelist. I’ve had close brushes with success and a whole lot of rejection. Just the idea of having my work FINALLY out there was absolutely thrilling. The notion that just ONE person, ONE reader would finally crack open my book and experience my story was an amazing thought. It’s never been about the money for me (good thing..) or fame or anything like that. I would honestly rather have people remember my characters’ names than mine.
The experience of self-publishing has been full of surprises, that’s for sure.
What I DID expect to happen, has. People have actually read the book. After years of bouncing around the traditional publishing world and all its disappointments, it’s still a strange and wonderful feeling to know that I actually have readers. Not a huge number thus far, but people who have actually read and experienced my characters, my story, my world that has been kept hidden for far too long.
Several things have happened that I never expected.
1. I Sold More Books Than I Expected – Again, I kept my expectations low. I figured I’d be happy if I sold 50 books in the first year, and that includes my friends and family members. After so many years of rejection, just having a handful of people I didn’t know read the book would have been rewarding enough. I’ve heard that the average self-published book sells about 100-150 books in all. Thus far, I’ve sold 153 books in nine months. Hardly a runaway bestseller, but far better than I’d hoped for!
2. I’ve Gotten Great Reviews – I fully expected to get some bad reviews. Again, I’m no stranger to rejection and I know bad reviews are part of the life of a writer. I haven’t really gotten any bad reviews (so far!) and I’m amazed at how many good ones I’ve gotten. My biggest fear was that my first review would be a bad one, thus souring a lot of the excitement of achieving my lifelong dream of publishing a book. I was stunned when the first review I got was a five-star one – from someone I did not know! I’ve gotten several great reviews from online book bloggers and got a front-page rave review from a Baltimore LGBT Newspaper.
3. I’ve Given a Talk About My Book – Since my book centered on LGBT equality (with all the proceeds being donated to the Harvey Milk Foundation), I was invited by a local PFLAG chapter (a group of LGBT Allies) to give a talk about my book. I spoke to a group of several dozen people, some of whom had already read my book, about the story and how it came to be self-published. I also got to read excerpts from the story. It was such an incredible feeling to be able to read parts of my story and some of the characters’ dialogue out loud. People laughed when they were supposed to, which was immensely gratifying. Someone asked me a specific question about the story, and I told her that in order to answer the question, I would have to reveal the ending. I asked the group if I should do that and the ones who had already read the book yelled out “No! No! Don’t give it away”. That means they cared. They cared about the characters and were engaged enough by the story that they didn’t want to ruin it for other people. After the talk, I spoke individually with some members of the audience, many of whom who bought the book and had me sign it. That was a surreal experience, to say the least.
4. My Book Is in the Library – I submitted my book to my local library, promising myself that I wouldn’t be too disappointed when they turned it down. There are now two copies of the book on the shelf in the New Adult Fiction section. Seeing those books, complete with the official library barcode on the back, is an experience I never thought I would have and I’ll never forget.
QUEEN HENRY has always been my favorite story, and to see it be successful, even on a relatively small scale, has been an extraordinary experience. I’m getting ready to publish another book soon, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.
Whatever happens, it will be enough just to have people open my book and read my story.
Thanks for sharing my journey with me.
– Linda Fausnet
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