Reflecting Back on 2016 as My First Year as a Published Author
by John Quick, author of Consequences
It’s weird for me to consider this, but I actually now have a back-catalog. It consists of one book, but still, it counts. And it’s pretty surreal. Which got me to thinking (I know, oh crap, he’s thinking again….).
When I first hit the “publish” button on Consequences back in April, I had no idea what I was in for. Oh, I’d convinced myself I knew, but I really didn’t. See, no matter how much research you do, no matter how many people you talk to, no one can truly prepare you for that feeling right after you send your first tale out for other people to read. People you don’t know, or that never knew you even were considering being a writer, much less had something so close to release. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, depending on what they hope to get out of it, but for me, who hoped this would be a springboard to a long-term career, it was a gut-punch of reality.
“What was I thinking?” “What if no one buys it?” “What if everyone who buys it, hates it?” “I must really be nuts, I can’t believe I’ve done this.”
That’s a small taste of what ran through my mind in the hour after I hit “publish” in CreateSpace and waited for the links to go live on Amazon. I’d heard the whole “writing is a lonely profession” line before, and now, suddenly, I understood completely. It’s different when you’ve got a team working with you, editors and marketing and cover designer and the like; you act as cheerleaders for one another to a large degree. But for me, at that time, I was all I had. My family and friends had my back, sure, but it’s not quite the same. I wish I could say I handled the affair stoically (even though I’ve already indicated I didn’t), but the truth is that within an hour of hitting “publish”, I was stumbling drunk and fighting a case of the shakes so bad it only served to multiply the effects of the whiskey. How fragile was my emotional state? I went from all of that to laughing like a nut simply because I got a friend request from one of the authors that heavily influenced the book on Facebook. Flipped on a dime, all over that.
After a couple of days, the panic and mania faded, and I was able to push forward. I started making contacts, I started figuring out the things I needed to do in order to make Consequences as successful as I possibly could, all while knowing I was fighting the uphill battle that comes from self-publishing, even with how accepted the practice has become nowadays. I started making connections in the horror community, all of whom were supportive, even though they really didn’t know anything about me. They saw I was trying, and that I was serious about making it work, and that was enough. I found an incredible publicist, who was not only willing to take me on as a client, but also taught me what to do and how to do it and how to make it work more effectively.
And somewhere along the lines, friendships were forged where I never expected them to be. I’m a bit old-school, so the concept of becoming friends with someone who I only interact with only online was strange, but I have to say it was extremely welcomed.
And Consequences started to become the little book that could. Reviews began to come in, and to my surprise and delight, they were good! I’d worried for nothing. Even the ones that found faults in the book were things I’d wondered about myself at various times while it was being written, and were constructive enough I took them to heart and put them to use in the other things I worked on. Somewhere in there I landed a contract with one of the best horror small presses to ever release a book, Sinister Grin, for the follow-up novel.
Suddenly, everything I’d dreamed of—once I settled into realistic goals for being published, that is—started to come true. I wasn’t about to become a multi-millionaire through writing, but I’d sold copies to people I didn’t know, and strangers had enjoyed the story I’d crafted. For me, that was reward enough.
As the fervor that immediately followed the release began to die down, I started looking toward what came next. The Sinister Grin novel wouldn’t be released until the middle of next year, so there was a gap where I worried that momentum I’d built up might slow. So the idea came to do another self-published release, something to tide people over until The Journal of Jeremy Todd was revealed to the world.
I’d only recently begun exploring writing shorter things at this point. For whatever reason, the story ideas I came up with were too broad in scope to be restricted to only a couple thousand words. I managed to find a home for one of them, “In the Moonlit Forest Glade,” with the Full Moon Slaughter anthology, but I had a few more floating around that I wasn’t even sure where to look for placement. They sat just outside easy definition, which is the opposite of what’s needed for most anthology open calls. Then again, I did have that gap and was looking for a way to fill it, so why not a collection?
I pitched the idea to some friends both in and out of the business, and got an almost universal yes to it. My publicist, Erin, who is also an editor, agreed to put those editorial skills to use on it, and so Three Shots and a Chaser was conceived. I cleaned the stories up, and added a wrap-around tale to tie it all together. I got a cover together that looked incredible. The pieces were falling into place, so I set a release date and started to brace myself for another series of panic-induced sleepless nights.
Only a funny thing happened. This time around, I didn’t feel alone. My family weren’t the only ones sharing the announcements about this collection on social media. I had people to talk to about issues figuring out how to set up the pre-order on Kindle. I found that I could reach out with questions and get answers easily when I needed to. I had that team I’d been missing. I was self-publishing, but I wasn’t doing it all by myself.
The release date came, and instead of panic and doubt, I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment. This time around, I got to ride the high, so to speak, and actually feel some pride at having proved I wasn’t just a one-trick pony when it came to putting things out there.
Some of this was due to it no longer being a new experience, but I think there was more to it than that. This time, I think, once the release date came, all the rough edges and little worries that had built up during the preparation for Consequences had been worn away by the support and encouragement I felt along the way.
This has been a rough year in many, many ways, but for me, it’s been incredible as well. I had no idea when I made the decision that I would have something published, no matter what, that this is where I’d be by the time Christmas came around again. I would like to thank everyone who’s supported me these past few months, whether it was just a kind word, a “like” on a post or a tweet about Consequences or Three Shots and a Chaser, or sharing the word however you could. Maybe you didn’t feel like it was all that much, but what a difference it made to me.
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You can purchase CONSEQUENCES at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E6B9ZV8