In my last post, I went into some of the struggles and lessons I’ve learned as an indie author. Today, I want to go into the two key components that catapulted my writing career, which are remaining humble and building connections.
As artists, we tend to get lost in the reasons why we do what we love to do. Some of us do it for the fame and others for the fortune, that’s if you’re lucky to reach that point in your career. Now, I’m not going to tell you it’s easy to reach those long term goals which for all of us is to probably write full-time. The worst thing any author can do is think that one book will send them to stardom. It’s really not the case.
When I wrote my first novel four years ago “Horizon”, I thought I was onto something that would blow everyone’s mind. I submitted it to multiple agents and publishers, thinking I would finally sell a million copies of my work and never have to stock another piece of fruit in a grocery store ever again. My colleagues call it being young and dumb, which if you want to be nice about it is more of naive. This was my dream and I wanted it NOW.
Alright, enough about my younger self because I even chuckle about my thoughts. Hell, I even stepped down as an assistant manager because I was so full of myself and deep into my ego. This is why when you publish that first book, you have to build connections and remain humble. I didn’t do a cover reveal, release party, talk to blogs, or even create a blog for that matter. I just simply pressed the publish button without any PR work or campaigns running. Big mistake… I ended up selling I think fifty-two paperbacks to family and friends, plus four ebook copies to random people on the internet. Those people gave me some pretty harsh reviews that literally destroyed me at the time because I had only heard great things about the book.
I know a lot of us have been there or are currently there now, where we simply don’t know what to do to break into the industry. Even selling ten ebooks may seem like a hard goal to reach right now. I’ve talked to a few authors who has bought their own book just so they can have something on their sales sheets. Well, here is the secret to really breaking that long rut and some will say, “Adam, that’s too much work.” I’m telling you what I’ve done because it has worked for me. I don’t have any degrees to back up my claims, but if I’m able to know I’m going to sell at least 60 ebooks on release day, wouldn’t you want to hear what the author has to say?
Let’s start with remaining humble…
My first experience with this was in June when I was about to release my novella “Deadly Dominance”. I wanted to save money on the cover design so I made it myself because I really didn’t have a budget for it. I wanted to keep the cover budget at about $100 which ended up being me downloading photoshop elements and creating it myself. Later, I reached out to my Facebook friends. I told them I’ve written an erotic horror with extremely controversial and sensitive situations that are not for the faint of heart. I had about twelve people respond to my status, and I sent them all a PDF copy of the book because I was nervous someone would steal my idea. Honestly, there were many readers coming back saying how much they loved it and thought it was so different from anything they had ever read before.
I was literally feeling like I was sitting at the top of a pedestal with all of the praises from these people, until one well known author reached out to me. She was extremely honest in her beta read, tearing up the book and telling me my cover was not going to sell me any books. Well, I call these moments ego checks. All of us need them sometimes because we get so high on our horse from the praises we forget about the audience that may have ideas, opinions, or constructive criticism that can help us become better authors. Honestly, I was a bit taken aback and frustrated. Hell, I almost ignored the advice and went on with the cover I had created. I loved it because I geared it towards comic book designs and I love comic books. Well, it’s not about what I want or what you want. It’s about what the consumer wants and what appeals to them.
The best way I can show you the comparison is by posting you both covers below.
(LEFT) My original version (RIGHT) Her designer’s version
When I saw the new design, I was excited. I thought it was a beautiful design and pushed my ego aside. This is where as authors we need to learn to take someone else’s critique as a learning experience because honestly, I knew nothing about what appealed to readers in the erotica community. I don’t know what my sales would have looked like with my cover, but I know that if I hadn’t taken her advice, my fanbase wouldn’t have expanded as much. The reason being, she promoted me, she sent me to blogs that could help me, an she found me readers to build a foundation for my work. It’s like I’ve always heard my parents say, you never know who you’re going to meet.
Humbleness and connections work the same in this industry. When someone critiques you, it’s usually because of personal preference or to make you a better writer. It’s never to troll you or make you feel like you’re worthless. For us to build as a community, we have to take whatever is thrown at us and run with it. I’ve never blasted reviewers, blogs, authors, or readers for anything they have said. The reason being, I know people are watching and I want to be a professional. I’d rather be a professional than be the cry baby that can’t handle a one star reviewer from a reader. If you have thirty five stars, then a one star appears, will you really let that pesky little thing affect you as an author? Are you really going to toss tables and say to hell with this? No, because you’re running a business just like anyone else.
Always have a thick skin because once you’re in the limelight and readers start to pull toward your work, you’ll have worse things to worry about than just reviews. Those worries will come in later posts, but for right now, just remember connect with the individuals in your audience, take the criticism as a learning experience, and never turn away someone’s opinion because of an inflated ego. We’re all adults and professionals here still learning the in’s and out’s to this industry.
Want to know more about Adam Reese?
Connect with him at