I have a very special person on the blog today. I am honored to host James on the blog as a part of Shalini’s Digital Reads Blog Tours.
Do you wonder how an author juggles between their full-time job and writing? When did they know they wanted to be an author? And of course, the ups and downs they faced as a newbie author. James reveals it all. 😀
Without further ado, let’s get on with the guest post.
For years, I dreamed about becoming an author. Did I know what it entailed other than writing a book? Probably not. Did I set aside time to make this happen? Nope, epic fail. Although publishing a book had been a goal since childhood, and I took several writing courses in college, I hardly spent any time focused on achieving this feat during the first fifteen years after graduation. Instead, I launched a career in technology and business operations. Finally, in 2016, when I parted ways with my very intense job, I decided to take a break from working for a few months. I’d saved enough money and gotten a nice send-away package from my company so that I could do whatever I wanted to do for a short amount of time.
First stop: build a blog. I knew enough that I couldn’t truly publish a book without having people interested in my writing style and content. Sure, I could self-publish and hope someone found me… but how often does that happen? Instead, I decided what my voice would sound like and learned how to create both a social media presence and a daily blog. At the same time, I read a lot of books in the genres I planned to write in, and I made connections all around the world. Followers and friends gave me advice, and slowly I began to share some of my work. That’s when I found a few fans. By then, I’d written an outline of my debut novel and began to search for beta readers. The debut came from my love of sibling rivalry, family drama, and genealogy research. Oddly enough, I’m an only child and often a hermit who won’t engage in conflict with others!
To be fair, sometimes I beta read for others in return. At times, I got lucky in finding a few who were just readers and liked being involved at the beginning of an author’s journey. Within six months of leaving my corporate job, 500 people followed my blog, I drafted and uploaded 750 book reviews (everything I read that I could remember), and I had written the first draft of a novel. I am persistent and multi-task quite well. I employed all my technology and project management skills to build my roadmap for launching a platform and a new career. By the time a full year had rolled around, 5 beta readers helped me polish my manuscript, and I was ready to search for a publisher.
As one expects, or should expect, I was not one of the very few lucky writers who land an agent quickly. But my blog presence and the kindness of a beautiful soul, Melanie Mole, led to my connection with Creativia, now known as Next Chapter, my publisher. Melanie read my draft chapters–which I had posted online–thought they were great, and helped me submit a proposal. A month later, I signed a contract, and Watching Glass Shatter was officially released 15 months after I left my job. While some of this success was due to my dedicated focus, much of this was luck too.
Since then, I’ve made millions and life is wonderful. WAIT! That’s a lie. I’m horrible, right? The debut was actually quite successful. Between the friends I made in blogging and a couple of Goodreads Giveaways, I gained 250+ reviews from random readers in the first three months. Most were 4s and 5s. Some were 2s and 3s. I had an editing problem. As much as I know the rules, I failed on a few. My publisher’s strength is in marketing, and the editing wasn’t as strong as it could have been. That said, we hired an editor. She cleaned up the mistakes, we issued a new version, and then I made millions. Life is… okay, I’ll stop this silly exaggeration.
Honestly, from what I’ve read about indie author sales and connections, I’m doing really well. I have an amazing group of fans, and they motivate me every day. I still hurt when I get a negative review. I often think I should stop writing when I see that I’m not able to stop working a full-time job altogether. In the last three years, I’ve published a total of 9 books (thanks to Hiding Cracked Glass, the sequel to my debut) and made a good chunk of money that helps pay for editing, marketing, promotions, etc. Ultimately, I decided to go back to work earlier this year, since I still have a few decades before a legitimate retirement age.
Now, time is my battle. After forty hours a week, plus all the blogging and reading I do, how is it possible to write and market my books? On average in the last few years, I’ve published 3 books each year. I’ll only get to two this coming year, and that’s okay. But on the flip side, I can use part of my salary to promote my books, so it balances out in the end. I have developed a routine, but sadly I don’t get to visit other blogs very often. I try to find all my friends on social media, and I do keep in touch with at least 500 bloggers each month. I know their names, locations, personal situations, jobs, and favorite things – mostly! I love these relationships and treasure how they’ve helped challenge me to grow as a writer and a person.
I really don’t need to make millions. My goal has always been to touch the world in a positive way. To make someone smile. To make them eager to want to know me and share some sort of genuine connection through words and creativity. I’d love to earn enough to move to the country and live off my royalties… spend my days writing and blogging… and maybe that’s what will happen in ten years or so.
Until then, I’m truly grateful to everyone who has been a part of this new chapter in my life, and I promise to keep on delivering better quality and imagination with each new release. Thank you for all your support! And thank you to Rekha for this amazing outlet to share my journey with you.
Hiding Cracked Glass, the sequel to James’ debut novel Watching Glass Shatter is releasing on the 8th. I hope you are excited as I am to grab a copy of the book. 😀
No blog tour is complete without a giveaway. Lots of goodies to be won, click here for more details.