I've Written A Book...
Or, to be more precise, I've drafted, re-drafted, edited, re-edited, formatted, converted and self-published a 1,000-page ebook. This achievement, and it is an enormous achievement, has taken ten years to reach fruition. Not ten continuous years, obviously. I could have published a revised edition of the Bible in that time. Sometimes I made little or no progress for several months. But ten years from start to finish. Assuming it is finished. Having accomplished my Herculean task, I had hoped I could at last relax, enjoy the satisfying inner glow of contentment and add the book to my lifetime achievement list.
But the final sentence I wrote didn't bring the hoped for conclusion. I discovered there's a small matter of marketing the product, without which nobody in the world, beyond a handful of friends and family members, will ever be aware of its existence. Whether or not that is of any significance I'm still deliberating.
The minimum requirement for 'official' recognition would seem to be a dozen or so positive reviews which could be the launch-pad for an acceleration in sales. Or not. Of course, before I can obtain positive reviews I have to sell the book. It's called Catch 22 (my situation not my book, Joseph Heller has already laid claim to that title). It seems many authors make their book freely available to increase review numbers and to stimulate interest in their work. Which is all very well if you have other, priced books to offer. I've only written one so why should I give it away and at my age I'm hardly likely to spend another 10 years writing a sequel. That's another Catch 22 situation.
So, I'm starting to fear that the first ten years were the easiest. I'm now being drawn into another dimension that requires me to have developed skills in such things as Search Engine Optimisation, Keyword Strategies, Amazon Algorithms, Non-Incentivised Review Generation... and that's before I even start publicising the book.
I appreciate that having a book without sales could mark me out as a failed author, in some people's eyes, but I hadn't appreciated the knowledge, planning, technology, analysis, hard-work, cost and cut-throat attitude that is required to generate those sales. Neither had I appreciated that there's a vast army of people offering to tweet or to message Facebook about my weighty tome. For a small fee, of course. Obviously, we all need help and guidance to some extent and there are some genuinely knowledgeable and skilled practitioners out there but how to separate the wheat from the chaff, how to differentiate between added value and waste of money...
I'm now reflecting on whether this next phase has any merit, whether it's worth yet more time and effort. Surely, publishing a book is achievement enough. For me at least. I never set out to make money, in fact I only decided to publish in the months after my health scare. And only then after I determined there was so much contained within its pages that could be beneficial to the reader. I've no desire - or expectation - to be a prize-winning author or to make a fortune from a best-seller. (Although I wouldn't reject either offer). That wasn't my aim when I first put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, 10 years ago. And, in any case, the chances of either coming to fruition are practically non-existent.
So, do I bask in the reflected glory of having got this far - or is my task incomplete until I've sold a few thousand copies... ?