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Storm At Dawn – Autumn Arrival

“Storm At Dawn is my difficult second child.” Is how I recently described the continuation of the Rubicon Saga. But why it has the dubious honour of being a “difficult child” goes back many months. In fact, it sort of started with her older sister, We Are Mars. Here’s what happened…

In May of 2018, I released on the world a science fiction novel I thought was a really good read. Up to that point, my writing had been limited to all non fiction work – a previous manifesto of creative philosophy, articles and editorial-style writing work over the preceding decades. There wasn’t a great deal of volume, but I felt it was time to take the next step and turn my pen to fiction.

We Are Mars was the whirlwind result. It took eighteen months to produce. A time in which I got much feedback and learned a fair amount about writing. But I knew nothing about book marketing and publishing. And that is when the trouble really started. We Are Mars arrived in the world to a quiet jubilation. It was moderately well-received by readers to start with (mostly due to my ineptitude at marketing on my part). Things started to warm up as I worked hard at trying to secure book placement in bookstores and to get set up for events such as book signings. Again, I achieved a very modest level of success, mostly due to the lack of independent bookstores in my home town and the general lack of an available market on the ground. I did, however, succeed in placing a stack of books in my local Chapters bookstore (Canadian book chain). I was confident this would lead to more placements over time.

I secured a signing gig at the Surrey International Writers Conference and although sales were dismal for that event, I was able to get a significant order and a book signing from a branch of ChaptersIndigo group. I dutifully completed that signing and came home.

In the meantime, I’d been working on completing Storm At Dawn and through some effort and two editors, I achieved the end result. It is a worthy follow-up to We Are Mars and I was genuinely excited for the future of my books, despite many setbacks during the editing phase of the book. The trouble had begun to show itself at this point and I equate the process I went through with that of a difficult pregnancy. I pushed on, creating the book interior and cover, labouring through the arduous upload and listing creation cycle and a week after I had my book listed via Ingram Spark, the shit really hit the fan!

A small instruction in a long-forgotten listing section of my We Are Mars book triggered a negative sales report and I could not believe my eyes. I was looking at a large volume of book returns that I was being billed for. It had automatically been added to my royalties statement. The shock came as I realised it could only have come from one place – the store I’d done the big signing event at.

It was a blow I almost did not come back from. It shook the foundation of my belief in myself as a self-published author. What was I doing? Who was I to assume I could do this? The imposter syndrome surged and my confidence was dust.

I slowly and reluctantly waded into the fray and began to unravel the unfolding disaster, all the while with my new book lurking at the edges in pre-launch phase. I made the painful decision to leave Ingram Spark and migrate all of my work to Amazon. The drama drained me and I wondered many times why I had even bothered with Ingram in the first place. The answer was simple – I’d started out with no easy way to create my own ebooks. As that is something that I can now do, the decision to abandon Ingram as a distributor – as difficult as it was – was the most logical. At Amazon, I could sell my books my way. No expanded distribution, and for a time I had wanted to leave off putting out print books too. I was done with that level of risk after the fiasco over at Ingram, whose policies are as inflexible as their online support is useless (a matter of opinion, of course, but largely negative experiences had led me to the break-up with them).

In the month that followed, I arrived at the reluctant conclusion that I would have to sell paperbacks in order to have current and available books from myself, and not the shady resellers who sell your books on Amazon after mysteriously gaining possession of copies from somewhere. I recreated both We Are Mars and Storm At Dawn to Amazon’s print specs and forged ahead, through many conversations with customer service reps and an endless string of emails until I eventually got to the point where my listings were fully updated and the books available are all mine.

Storm At Dawn’s launch has been a bit of a damp squib though, so returning to the analogy of the difficult second child, it has been like having a colicky baby to deal with and I am anxious to see if the Kindle launch this week will bring any success in resolving this last hiccup with this book. I am praying that number three, Break the Dark, will be an easier proposition. Already on the way, this book is going to take some time to come out because of all the issues that have burned me out over the past year. I need a recovery period, or my resolve may crumble under the relentless demands of being an indie author.

Coming back to those rattled beliefs, I can tell you with certainty that I am still struggling with the Earth-shaking failure of the returned copies of We Are Mars. I was gutted that not more people had bought the book. It was only on the shelves at Indigo for three months, and I wonder if they could have given it more of a chance, if it wouldn’t have done better. Needless to say, I am relieved by my online success with the book sales at Amazon and enjoying the additional benefit of having enrolled my books into the Kindle Unlimited library.

Storm At Dawn Kindle version releases on Thursday. I hope that you will pick up a copy or check it out in KU. It is a great piece of science fiction with a military and colony bent. Feedback from ARC readers is positive and I look forward to seeing their reviews posted on Amazon on Thursday.