It doesn’t take a hard push to get a ball to roll downhill. It also doesn’t take a hard stop to get a ball on flat ground to stop moving altogether.
The past six months have been tough for me. It only took a few errors on my new release to drop me to the ground. Honestly and humbly I admit with all the reads, rereads, and editing I still found errors in my newest novel. The cloud I’d ridden seemed to pour rain, sleet, and hail dissipating as it dropped me from the sky. What was quite frustrating for me was some of these errors were not found in my original paperback proof. Which may have meant we pulled an old file when fixing some errors or which meant something else I didn’t understand. I had no idea what happened. But I was so incredibly disappointed. I am a perfectionist. I don’t expect perfection from anyone other than myself. And with high anxiety living in my core each day, it was a tough blow for me to accept I’d made errors. But I am also humble and willing to face the music.
Only, my instrument felt broken. My daughter had been bullied at school again. I decided I was going to write the story parents need to read. The story so many children in schools face today. Then I was asked to write a different version. I outlined, I plotted, I sank deeper. I needed a lift, but I was focused on failure. I’d failed with the release of my novel because I released it with errors I didn’t know existed. I, a mother who would do anything for any child, couldn’t fix my daughter. I couldn’t make people like her. I couldn’t make people understand her quirkiness. I couldn’t even get anyone to appreciate her differences. And I also couldn’t get the schools to care enough to make big but simple changes. Each day for several months, I sat in my car in the afternoon pick-up line at two schools, and I read 34 Seconds out loud to find errors. There were truly only a few. A few which still sucked my will to get fixes done and published.
In the spring, I finished my new edits, sent them in and fixed my ebook and paperback documents with the help of a fabulous formatter who never made me feel less than human for admitting I’d made mistakes.
But it wasn’t until we decided as a family we were willing to walk away from our home before I began to feel better. From our home. From friends and family. To give our daughter a chance to be loved and accepted, we decided to move to another state. Another school district. Another neighborhood. More options. More opportunity. The day we decided to change out lives, a new light shined in my soul. I couldn’t wait to get back to projects I’d started and left unfinished. I couldn’t wait to write more. I couldn’t wait to tell the world about 34 Seconds again. I could forgive myself for being human. I could walk away from my mistakes. And oddly enough, I found it easier to walk away from people we know who had been hurting our children with hurtful words and physical actions. People I could no longer talk to because they never said sorry to us. I could even forgive, knowing we all had a new light shining inside us all.
This past week, I decided to celebrate my acceptance of myself, of my forgiveness, and run a freebie on Kindle for my novel. I felt I’d fixed what needed fixing…and don’t get me wrong, these errors were rather simple, like the word ‘to’ missing within a sentence, the word ‘silent’ used instead of ‘silence.’ And they were few. But I also added or deleted a few things while I was making fixes, but nothing which changes Nikki’s story.
So I thought I would have fifty or so books downloaded. And I hoped maybe of those fifty maybe five people would read it, leave an honest review, I’d learn something new about my writing and move forward. I wanted to celebrate me by getting my words out again. I wanted to tell people I’ve been rather silent about this book I wrote, but here it is. You can have it.
What I didn’t know was on the first day forty-eight would be downloaded.
I scheduled a five-day free run. At first, I wondered if I should have only done one or two days. Kindle gives us authors enrolled in a certain program five-day runs every 90 days our books are in the program. I had scheduled all five of my days in one run. My reason was because my third 90-day run in this KDP (meaning it’s a Kindle only exclusive novel) is up at the end of June, and I thought I might try to get it out to other venues this summer.
Anyway, I really thought on day one I’d hit what I thought I may get for all five days and my other days would end up being wasted. I’ve been swamped. I didn’t really advertise this free run. I didn’t contact any bloggers to help me. I didn’t ask for reviews or contacts. I posted on my Facebook pages, I have two. And I posted on Twitter. On day two, trying not to be annoying to those who see me daily, I posted in a few places. I tried not to include links everywhere. That can be annoying. However, if I had friends in multiple groups and on my Facebook page, some of my friends may have seen more than one or two posts at once coming from my page and a Kindle Free Group. But my goal here was to quietly get the word out, get friends to share with their friends, and not annoy folks by blasting a picture of my cover all over their feeds.
On day two, sixty-nine units were downloaded on Kindle for free. Wow, I thought.
On day three, fifty-nine were downloaded. Still I was trying very hard not to post too much about it, and I started thinking the downloads peaked on day two, I should have run a three-day free run. I will do it again one day, so I’m trying to learn from my own process. What works and what doesn’t.
Day four was a Friday. And it was the best of the first four days. Eighty-one units were downloaded. At this point, I was tracking where my novel was on the Top 100 list of free books on Kindle. Without sharing the link, I’d share a photo of where the book was. That day, mine was rising close to Colleen Hoover’s Finding Cinderella. There was a point when mine passed hers and I gave myself a silent high five. About a second later, I reminded myself Finding Cinderella was a novella about two and a half years old and might have even been free from the get-go. I read it when it was released in one sitting with two cups of coffee. So there I was laughing because I was proud my book had passed a novella which had probably been housed on that same list for years. For years. Which means people download volumes of that novella daily. Hey, I was still proud.
By the time I went to bed Friday night, there had been 258 downloads over the four days. I was very surprised. No, I was actually shocked.
Saturday I woke thinking about the weekend and how I might expect a few downloads but having the promotion end on a Saturday probably wasn’t a great idea. I imagine people sitting at their desks during the week downloading free books. But on the weekends, I am certain those people are hiking, shopping, living, or at least reading their weekly finds from their work weeks.
A funny thing happened on Kindle that day. My charting page was only set to show up to June 10th. Every few hours I’d refresh the page to see if I had any downloads only to see nothing new. It was noon before I realized I hadn’t been looking at Saturday’s date, June 11th. Once I fixed the settings, I noticed about sixty copies had been downloaded. Laughing at myself, I went on with my day.
Sometime on Saturday 34 Seconds peaked at #27, #37, and #37 on the Top 100 Free list in Romance, Contemporary Fiction, and Women’s Fiction respectively. I don’t even know where Colleen Hoover’s two and a half year old novella was at that point. I was proud. I shared a few pictures, laughing at my guitar cover mixed up with covers of people without shirts and later mixed up with people who were clothed. I was simply happy.
When I woke on Sunday morning, I learned 246 copies were downloaded on Saturday.
When I started this free five-day run, I questioned whether I’d wasted five days. When I failed to do any upfront promotions, I wondered if it would do anything for the book. By the end of the five days, 503 had been downloaded. Five hundred and three copies of my novel are out into the world. My original hope was to have fifty out there and hope for ten percent of those people to review….which is a very high hope. Now if I am lucky enough to get that ten percent review my novel, I could have over fifty reviews. It’s still a high hope.
More importantly, it’s built my momentum. Not only can I accept that I am only human, I can also believe in humanity.
It’s truly been a rough six months for me. But this week we start our new beginnings. We close on our new home in Arizona this week. And there are over five hundred copies of my novel sitting out into the world. There is even a copy in India. Some will read it. Some won’t. I’ve picked up several novels I haven’t read yet. Some I’ll never read. It’s the nature of being human. Sometimes we support with numbers. Sometimes we support with reviews. Sometimes we support with coffee and a hug. This weekend I felt a hug from every person who took the time to click.
For being here. For being you. Thank you!