August marked 5 years since my first book was published. In August 2012, Dreamspinner Press took a flyer on two unknown authors and published (Un)Masked, a book I co-wrote with Anyta Sunday. A lot has changed in those 5 years, not the least of which is that (Un)Masked is no longer in print (More on the re-release of (Un)Masked next month.) Before I delve into some of the things I’ve learned in the last five years, let me do a wee bit of promo for a giveaway I’m holding.
There are three days left to enter my newsletter sign up contest. Everyone who signs up for my newsletter will get a chance to win a $50.00 Amazon gift card or one of two $25.00 DSP Publications gift cards. You’ll also get a free eCopy of The Last Grand Master and a 35% off DSP Publications coupon good for your entire order. But the contest ends Saturday September 30, 2017, so hurry to enter, there are only a couple of days left
Okay, so that’s out of the way. Back to my reminiscing. Here are five things I’ve learned over the last five years.
- MM Romance isn’t the same as snippets of my life. I think when I started writing, I expected I could provide a ‘realistic’ snap shot of gay life because I’ve lived it. That’s true, but that isn’t the same as writing a good MM Romance story. It might make the character more ‘real’ (not a given btw), but a good romance requires so much more. Take away: I’ve work to do to be a better romance author.
- Romance isn’t my first love. Since I picked up The Lord of the Rings, I’ve been hooked on fantasy. But five years ago it was very difficult to get a fantasy with LGBTQ characters published if there wasn’t some romance involved. That has changed considerably in the lighten fast world of eBooks, so I’ve been able to shift my writing bit-by-bit from Gay Fantasy to Fantasy with gay characters. My stories will probably always have LGBTQ characters, but I can’t promise there will always be romance involved. Take away: Without MM Romance, I couldn’t write LGBTQ Fantasy today.
- I can’t make the market. When I began writing I thought I could write what I wanted and people would buy it. That’s not exactly true. When I wrote Purpose, I set out to write something different than the standard paranormal/urban fantasy story. My theory was people would love something different. Well, those who read it said it was different, and most of the readers who reviewed it seemed to love it, but the number of readers didn’t reach my expectations/hopes. Take away: Readers will make the market, not the author.
- Write the story you want isn’t just a saying. As an author one of the constant struggles is writing the story you want versus one that will sell. But since you can never tell what readers want, it’s always best to write the story you want. Following this ‘rule’ ensures at the very least, I’ll be satisfied with the end result – and hopefully the number of sales as well. Take away: Making me happy is the best way to be sure I write the best book.
- There is no magic marketing bullet. Every author wants to find that marketing idea that will sell them truckloads of books (assuming we sold books by the truckloads anymore.). Some people have had great success with Facebook, be it ads or groups, or author pages. Others spend lots of money with little to show. For some it’s Twitter that helps – or doesn’t. Mailings lists work well for some authors, but for others they get little traction. You get the point. There is no one size fits all and searching endlessly for that ‘one thing’ takes time away from writing. Take away: Marketing, like writing, is unique to the author.
I could probably come up with a bunch more, but these are good for now. Given the way things change in the publishing world, I suspect if I did a ‘Six things I learned in Six years’ most of these would be different. Time will tell.
Enjoy the journey!
Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.
Since devouring The Lord of the Rings as a preteen, he has been a fan of all things fantastical. His imagination has helped him create works of high fantasy, paranormal thrills and touch of the futuristic. He also writes the occasional contemporary story.
He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his husband of twenty-two years. Together they are raising their pre-school age daughter and three dogs. Andrew tries to squeeze writing time in around his most important jobs, being husband and ‘Papa.’ Along with teaching how to kick a soccer ball or ride a scooter, he has become fluent in cartoon characters and children’s books. To find out more about Andrew, his writing and his family, follow him on his website or on Facebook.
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