They say that writing is a marathon, not a sprint. This is especially true for indie writing. I’ve been “out there” now for two years, with some lessons learned along the way. I have miles to go to where I want to be, but success is a slow, constant build. Having gotten some good books under my belt, I sometimes wonder if I should have waited to go the traditional route given that my first book is my weakest. Upon reflection, I’m happy with my decision to go indie. I’m thinking of pursuing traditional publication in the future with a different series, but I’m glad I made the choice to start this way. The short reason is: I wouldn’t have gotten this far otherwise.
I published my first book in December 2012, a little over two years ago. In that time, I’ve published four books, all in the same series. As some of you know, I recently received a great review from an industry reviewer for my most recent work, Myth and Incarnation. Looking back, I know that my first book, Lightfall, was my weakest. The problem, of course, is that it’s the entry into the trilogy. I wanted to get all the books reviewed, which meant risking a bad review on Lightfall.
Lightfall has been a bit of an emotional challenge for me. I believe it’s a decent book, but I know it’s not a great book. It has its flaws, and even my loyal fans recognize that the When Dragons Die tale only truly becomes great in the second book, Covenant. As a cohesive trilogy, I’m very proud of When Dragon Die… but Lightfall as a standalone novel is not successful. It needs the other two.
Wanting Covenant, and the trilogy’s finale The Tides of Artalon, to get an unbiased, professional review from Indie Reader, I knew I was going to have to risk a review for Lightfall as well. I admit, I was a little nervous. Would they come in with 1 or 2 stars? IndieReader describes their rankings (from their site at indiereader.com):
1 star: really bad; there’s a reason this book is self-pubbed
2 stars: mediocre, but one or two bright spots
3 stars: good; worth reading
4 stars: very good
5 stars: excellent; must-read
I know Lightfall isn’t as strong as the rest of the series, but surely I wouldn’t get 1 or 2 stars, right? I was hoping for 3 stars, and decided I’d be happy with that. I submitted all three books, and from my understanding, the same reviewer will be reading and reviewing all three… which is what I want. I don’t want someone reviewing the final two books without having read the setup.
The review for Lightfall came in: 3.5 stars. It points out some of the book’s flaws, and it validated the areas I’d identified to fix if I were to do a comprehensive rewrite. But, overall, I’m happy with this review. It’s not the 4 or 5 stars I’m aiming for, obviously, but it’s a call to do better. If the 4 stars for Myth and Incarnation is any indication, I’ve achieved that.
I’m glad I waited until I had more books done and got the M&I review before I did this. It would have been easy to get discouraged early on, but now I eagerly await the reviews for Covenant and The Tides of Artalon.
Reflecting on this, some might say it would have been better to finish everything, revise Lightfall, and then go for traditional publishing. Or, to indie publish later, and wait. But the thing is… if I had done, that, I don’t think I would have even finished the trilogy. I feed off of feedback from beta readers and the promise of “getting it out there”. The promise of sharing. So, even with Lightfall’s flaws, the route I took was the one that keeps me writing and now I can say I have four books to my name.
In the meantime, 3.5 stars is not a bad showing for a first novel. I think I’ll keep this writing thing going.