Going backwards to go forwards
Roxanna C Revell is a British Indie Author who released her debut novel, Because of Hattie in 2020, and will be releasing her second novel, The Beneath; the first book in the Behind the Wall, dystopian series, in April 2021.
And so, it begins
You have the idea; it sticks in your head and you can’t quite shake it, and so you decide to write it down. You decide to finally answer the question you’ve spent a lifetime asking yourself – Do I have it in me to write a book?
Turns out you do. You keep writing and it starts to feel like you’ve got something that’s more than just a few words strung together.
So, what’s next?
Well, in my case, I had friends read my book under the guise that I was also reading it for a friend. I didn’t tell them that it was me because I wanted to get their honest feedback. Yes. I was that cloak and dagger about it. I didn’t even tell my husband and there are still members of my family that don’t know that I’m writing, and I’m soon to release book two!
Don’t worry; I own my weird, but I also digress. So, back to the beginning of the journey of my debut novel.
Once I’d received feedback that the story that I’d concocted had actually turned into a good book, I looked into what I should do next. The options being, try to publish traditionally or go down the self-publishing route.
From the research that I did, I decided that self-publishing was the way to go, and I started looking into what I should do. I joined the help groups on Facebook, I read articles and I learned all about the right way to market yourself as an author.
Then I did none of it.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I got my Instagram account up and I created a Facebook page. I did a bit of pre-launch promotion, but totally small scale. I didn’t build the website and I didn’t create a mailing list. I didn’t find beta readers to go through my book and help me perfect it, and I didn’t send out any early copies in order to get reviews out there prior to release. I got some friends to read and review once it was out there, but that was it.
I was sitting there with a book listed on Amazon, alongside billions of other books, waiting to see those lovely royalties come in. Obviously, they didn’t. The worse part is that I cannot blame my inaction on ignorance or lack of knowledge, because I knew what I was supposed to do.
I was the problem. The only thing holding me back was the person I see when I look in the mirror, and all because of my own self-doubt and lack of confidence.
I wanted to answer the question. I wanted to know if I could write a book, and even when I was writing it, there was always that voice in my head that was telling me that it probably wasn’t going to happen. All of the excuses that I had, all of the constraints on my time and, mostly my lack of self-belief, all led me to believe (on some level) that I wouldn’t finish it.
Why would I put myself out there? Why would I join a world of authors and sell people a book that would never materialise?
This is what was going around my head, and probably up until the point where I wrote the final sentence. Yet, I did it. I hired a proof-reader; I got my cover professionally designed and spent what felt like weeks formatting for Kindle. I was committed to the task on every level, but I hadn’t done any of the advance work that you need to do in order to make your release a success.
I had to work backwards.
I had to do the leg work and most importantly, I needed to get my book known to the right people. I joined engagement groups on Instagram; the first being writer.engage.community where members are encouraged to support the posts of other authors in the group, in order to help boost engagement. That group is actually where I met some of the authors that I now consider to be friends. As well as building my presence on Instagram, I promoted my book in Facebook reader groups, and I sent messages to bookstagrammers asking if they’d be interested in reading it.
There were of course, some rejections , but I managed to create some interest and the reviews started appearing in the right places. Having your book listed on Kindle Select is an absolute must in this situation, since most bloggers have Kindle Unlimited. You can’t expect someone that you’re asking to help you, pay for the privilege to do so. You need to be prepared to send a copy for free if necessary.
Eight months after the release of my debut, and I have twenty-five reviews on Amazon and forty-six reviews on Goodreads. It could be better, but it’s not terrible when you check out other authors on Goodreads. I’ve seen people take on this self-promotion task even less successfully than I did. Still, I could have had those numbers, or perhaps half of those numbers, prior to release. I could have created a buzz. I could have created a need, and a thirst for this book, instead of spending eight months chasing my tail.
Over half a year later, with my second book set to release in a few months-time, and I am in a very different position. I embraced the indie author world, and not just as a spectator. I have beta read for other authors and have read four ARC releases myself (advance release copies, which are essential for getting some early reviews and promotion prior to the release date). I’m actively helping to promote other indie authors, and not just because I hope that they’ll return the favour, but because this is how the indie author community works. We have each other’s backs.
In fact, I’ve never come across a group that is so supportive of other people that could technically be viewed as ‘competition’. I’ve made friends with authors and bloggers alike, and as such, I’ve now got a support network in place. I’ve got people ready and willing to help me on my journey. Even though I’m an independent author, I now know that it’s not a journey that you can undertake alone.
My four beta readers are made up of two book bloggers (that read and reviewed my debut) and two fellow indie authors that I now consider to be friends. They read my first draft, they gave me input and pushed me to do the best that I could.
I’ve assembled a street team, which is a group of influencers and indie authors who are committed to promoting my book, via the marketing strategy that I’ve created. This team will be reviewing my book pre-release, and, as I’m writing this article, I’ve had a further seventeen people request to be an ARC reviewer. I’m currently set to have thirty reviews on Goodreads before my book even goes live.
One thing that I’ve also learned about the indie writing community in particular, is that people are very welcoming. If you set up your Instagram account and put up a post saying that you’re an aspiring writer and have only written one sentence, then you’re a writer. You have a work in progress.
Welcome to the gang!
Embrace your journey and your dream, and if you’re a little scared to reveal your true self, then that’s what pen names and avatars are for. Join in with the community, take part in monthly writing challenges, because they’re great for growing your audience and challenging your way of thinking about your work. Not only that, but they also help to build the support team that you’ll be needing when you eventually write the best two words ever – the end .
Make sure to check out Roxanna C Revell’s debut novel Because of Hattie, and follow her on Instagram here so you don’t miss any of the details about the release of her second book, The Beneath coming in April 2021!
Looking for more content? Read my series of writing articles for beginners and experienced writers alike. Click on each photo to read the article.
The Weight of Rain – A Collection of Short Fiction
Click here to purchase:
The Weight of Rain, T. C Emerys’ debut collection of short stories, are set across Britain and Ireland. They are emotional, suspenseful and hopeful.
“Living with pain, every day is different. Unfortunately, the world’s expectations of me are the same.”
Eira is a young woman learning how to cope with chronic pain and the loss of her father.
Ginger is struggling through Christmas day with a family she feels disconnected from.
Claudia’s husband took a train and didn’t come back.
Cathryn’s wife is hiding something.
Each of these people has loved and lost, and the rain falls on them just the same. These stories show that there is always hope, even under the gloomiest of skies.
Fans of Matt Haig will love these delicate, sad and hopeful stories.
“Powerful, emotional, deep… This will not be the last I read from this talented and gifted author.”
“Beautiful… I read this book in one sitting. Thank you T. C. Emerys for changing my view of short stories.”
“These grab you as soon as you start reading. I can’t wait to read this author’s next book.”