Recently I’ve spent a few frustrating days catching up with TV. I rarely watch anything, but when I found out that two of my favourite books – Good Omens and American Gods – were receiving the visual treatment, I knew that within ten years I’ll sit down and watch, and that I will have a great time!
I did not have a great time.
Watching Good Omens was the most frustrating time I’ve spent in front of the TV since I had last screamed “y u so STUPID, Jason Stackhouse?!” at the screen. When Good Omens got something right, it was better than I could have ever imagined, surpassing what I would have considered to be perfection. When it wasn’t perfect, though, it was either embarrassing or… boring.
The biggest problem was God. (This is not a sentence I ever expected myself to utter.) Frances McDormand was a great choice, it’s just that she shouldn’t have been there at all. Certain parts of the book have proven to be too difficult (or impossible) to translate into a visual medium, so the series would sort of take a break for McDormand to provide a rambling explanation of why things were happening. I was reminded of my grandma, who used to watch soap operas. We’d sit in front of TV and I would discreetly fiddle with my phone, as grandma provided running commentary: “you see, this is Bill, he is a bad guy, he is very rich because he stole the money from his ex-wife, and this bitch here is his girlfriend Tabitha, she’s cheating on him with the gardener, she is not a nice woman at all, but then Bill deserves it…” I’ve always felt that if something needs to be explained, it doesn’t belong – in a book, in a museum, on TV. This is not to say that I would have known how to do it – it just didn’t work for me.
Storytellers was officially released on March 28, 2019. Today it’s exactly one month old. Once I’m on my tenth novel I probably won’t even notice this sort of thing, too busy signing contracts with Hollywood and buying mansions. But this is my first book-baby and every morning I wake up excited to see what’s going to happen.
Here’s what happened so far…
I’ve rewritten the entire book twenty-one times.
In September 2017 I believed the book to be finished and ready to go. I asked an editor to go through the text and correct my grammar and spelling – I am painfully aware that I’m not a native speaker. She returned the book just in time for my 40th birthday (poetic, right?), mentioning in passing that perhaps a few things could do with another look, not too much, just a lick of polish. The most shocking thing she said to me was that she felt that the female characters seemed slightly flat.
Those who know me are aware that I’m an avid feminist. Almost all of my favourite books feature amazing female characters so full of life that I feel like we are BFFs. I could have dismissed Megan’s remarks, and almost have, but two of them overlapped with my beta readers’ remarks. When one person doesn’t like a detail, it’s generally not a problem. Two, though – one of them a professional – should make you think. So I did a bit of rewriting here and there. Eighteen times. Seventeen months. The total: twenty-one times over twenty-six months. Lads and ladies, here’s my book-baby, a result of an extremely overdrawn pregnancy.
Also known as the day when you can actually purchase the book.
GOOD GODS. First of all, I didn’t realise that Amazon paperbacks did not feature the preorder option, accidentally publishing an unfinished version on February 27, giving scammers a chance to “offer” the book that didn’t exist yet, meaning you could “buy” it from the scammer – but not from me. The hardcovers came with two dates: publication date and on-sale date, which technically is a preorder, but in practice the book showed up on Amazon on March 28th, declaring that it was released on March 7th. At least the e-book did come out on the day it was supposed to be released. There were, excitingly, some preorders. The super deluxe boxed sets sold out within less than three days since I announced them, way before I even put one paragraph online.
This was the simple bit.
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…
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.