I've Written A Book...
... or, to be more precise, an autobiography which I've drafted, re-drafted, edited, re-edited, formatted, converted, published, amended, updated and re-published as a 1,000-page ebook (depending on which distributor you choose). This achievement, and it is an enormous achievement, has taken ten years to reach fruition. Not ten continuous years, 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 and enjoy the satisfying inner glow of contentment.
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 is open to speculation.
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 and at my age I'm hardly likely to have the capacity, capability or inclination to spend another 10 years writing a sequel. I guess 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.
I appreciate that having a book without sales could undermine any claims I might have to being an author but I hadn't appreciated the knowledge, planning, technology, analysis, application, cost and cut-throat attitude that is required to generate those sales. Neither had I appreciated the size and extent of the competition, nor the fact that there's a vast army of people offering to tweet or message news of my weighty tome. For a small fee, of course. And that's without even considering agents, designers, editors, publishers, copy-writers, proof-readers... Obviously, we all need help and guidance to some degree and undoubtedly there are genuinely knowledgeable and skilled practitioners out there - but how to separate the wheat from the chaff, how to differentiate between added value and wasted money...
These multi-faceted conundrums led me to question whether this next phase had any merit, whether it was worth returning to the well yet again to draw on my rapidly diminishing reserves of time and energy. What exactly were my aims, objectives and motivations? Surely, publishing a book was achievement enough. For me at least. I never set out to make a fortune, in fact I only decided to publish in the months after my health scares. And only then after I determined there was so much contained within its pages that could be beneficial to the reader. I had no desire - or expectation - to be a prize-winning author. (Although I would have embraced the opportunity). That wasn't my aim when I first put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, 10 years ago.
So, the question I asked myself was do I bask in the perceived but limited glory of having gotten this far - or is my task incomplete until I've sold a few thousand copies...?
Well, some months later, I had the answer...
With well in excess of 800 downloads, in over 25 countries, I had achieved contentment. I was able to set the book aside, in mind and deed. It's now sitting prominently on my list of life accomplishments. Freely available, in perpetuity, to anyone who cares to read it... As for fame and fortune, I never sought them out as travel companions and consequently have no regrets that they won't accompany me on my final journey.