At the end of my book (NOT pictured above) you will find the following:

 

Thank you for reading Storytellers – I hope you enjoyed it.
I would be most grateful for a review or a comment on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other website of your choice. Takk fyrir!

 

You might have noticed similar requests in other authors’ books. Not just indie authors like me, but traditionally published writers whose books have their own shelves in Waterstones. Oddly, we don’t say “only leave GOOD reviews”, so… why? Is this some sort of a competition?

Why, it is! As of March 31, there were 3.4 million books in the Kindle store. That’s a lot of competition. Average sales of a debut novel are 100 copies within the first year and 500 copies within the book’s lifetime. This includes both J. K. Rowling and Jane Smith, whose sad story I tell below…

 

(in)Visibility

 

 

Jane Smith just self-published a novel called Rabbits Attack. The novel, which she worked on for eight years, sold 30 copies in its first week, 15 in week two, 2 in week three. Her heart sinks as Jane watches her sales drop. With a sigh, she opens her book’s page and notices something odd. Her book’s Amazon page lists… fifty-five other titles – and that’s with an ad-blocker! Those are divided between so-called “Also boughts”, “Customers also shopped for”, and “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” sections. So, on her own book’s page, Jane has fifty-five competitors. That’s more than the number of books she sold.

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Reading is dangerous. Addiction to books – expensive and time-consuming. Keep your kids away from books. Or they will fall in love with them and nothing will drag them back to Snapnite, Instabook, and drugs anymore.

 

My first book

I really wish I could remember more than that it was a kids’ book. Large print, illustrations, etc.

Every evening my Mum would sit with me and read me a book. Those were Communist days, which – you don’t see it coming – meant that there were PLENTY of books, they were cheap, subsidised by government, and a print run of 50 thousand meant the publisher was testing the waters. There was a series of kids’ books called “Poczytaj mi, Mamo” (“Read to me, Mom”) available. I had them all, as in all six or so, and Mum had to suffer through the same ones over and over again. I was a regular Calvin, knowing when she skipped even one word, and she worked two jobs. Eventually she got frustrated, told me “you know each of those books by heart, there’s no need to read them for you” and left me alone.

She was right – I really knew those books by heart. I quickly figured out how letters corresponded with phonems, then with words, and pretty soon I was reading other books. I didn’t know this was unusual – or that there were books that were not suitable for humans my age. I was four years old.

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Tuesday, March 19

I haven’t realised how extremely tired I was until my friend, the owner of the Magical Garden and the cabin where I am staying, left me alone. I texted Husby to tell him I arrived and everything was perfectly fine, then switched my phone off and sighed out loud “now I am offline”. This was the first surprise I gave myself.

I ate some bits and pieces, unpacked the essentials, used the gentlemen’s room, then left one lamp on and decided I needed real rest. So I went to lie in bed – there’s no door between the bed and the living space.

I sighed with pleasure as I stretched my aching bones, then decided the lamp was irritating me and I wanted the cabin to be lit only by the fire. I got up, switched the lamp off, then returned to bed.

I sighed with pleasure as I stretched my aching bones, then decided to get up and stop the toilet from doing that thing where you have to push the button again so it stops leaking indefinitely and making noise.

I sighed with pleasure as I stretched my aching bones, then shut my eyes. I opened them a moment later, alarmed, when I heard an odd sound – like a motorbike that’s going very fast, but the source of the sound was moving very slowly. It was an airplane. But the other noise, a louder one, was an owl looking for a one-night stand. I closed my eyes again and only then realised how extremely tired I’ve been.

*

In the last months, I’ve gone through a lot in my personal life, I ended up stuck in a legal dispute, and at the same time I am launching a book. If I had known earlier, I would have picked a different date, but the letter in which life was notifying me that it intended to get really intense must have gone missing. Coming here and getting off the grid for a week right before the book’s release date was probably shooting myself in the foot from the commercial point of view. But only now that I was able to rest have I realised how badly I needed it all this time.

After a while – it was still early – I decided to go for a short walk. To my dismay, I noticed some sort of brutal, bright light that made it difficult for me to do stargazing, so I turned… and faced the moon. It was so bright that I was literally casting a moonlight shadow. I gawked at the shadow, then back at the full moon. It was the only source of light around and no torch was needed. 

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