About seven months ago I made a decision. I decided that if I was ever going to amount to anything as a writer I had to shut myself up, turn off as many distractions as possible, become a hermit, and divide my time between work, writing, and promoting books. I told myself this was the only way anything was ever going to happen because, even though I had a lot of good stuff written, it was languishing. I had a half-finished novel (Depraved Heart), a stack of semi-finished stories (including one called The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic, another I called Michelle Pfeiffer's Evil Twin which I renamed Ghosts of a Beach Town inWinter, as well as A Visit from Belsnickel which I renamed The Reluctant Belsnickel of Opelt's Wood.) I made a commitment to myself that I would stay home, focus on writing and revising – stop going out to drive around aimlessly or wander around shops or find people to sit around and gab with for hours and hours – and spend as much time as I could learning new ways to promote books.
Everybody told me I was crazy, they asked if I was depressed, they worried about me, they told me I was turning into a recluse, etc. I had to just thank them for their concern and keep going. I know myself and I know this is the only way I ever get anything done.
For the first three months it was tough going. I really, really, really wanted to go out and play. Other than sitting on my back porch talking to a couple neighbors I had no social life. I worked hard – writing and promoting all weekend. Even I thought I was nuts. But then in September something amazing happened. It was the last day of the month and when I checked my book sales stats I saw something stunning, I was 7 books away from selling 1,000 books that month. That's as many as I sold in all of 2010. I sat at my desk, holding my breath, and refreshing the screen over and over until around 10:30 that night I passed 1,000 book sales! I was ecstatic!!! I had uploaded the cleaned up version of The Crazy Old Lady in July and it was selling really well. It seemed the more it sold the more it dragged the other books along with it. I had been hard at work on revising Depraved Heart and was about to release Ghosts and I was very excited.
October was even better!!! Sales more than tripled and, for the first time ever, I made as much money in a month as a writer as I did as a designer. I was thrilled. The month ended with 3,200 sales and, though The Crazy Old Lady was by far the best-seller, I was getting fan email saying, “I loved your Crazy Old Lady, now I want to read the rest of your books.” This was incredible.
November exceeded every expectation! I released The Reluctant Belsnickel – 3 stories that had been just laying around useless for years were suddenly making money! I also cleaned up some knitting patterns and got them out, too. November ended with 5,600 sales and I was over the moon.
December, however, was the biggest thrill of all. Sales were excellent all month plus, thanks to Amazon's new DTP Select Program, I had the option of offering some of my books free for a day or two and the results were encouraging. Sales were picking up and on Christmas Day and the following 2 days I had 500 book sales a day! A DAY!!! December ended with 8,300 sales.
It is now the third day of January 2012 at 4:00pm and, at the moment, I am 12 books away from selling 1,000 books so far this month – in these three days I will have sold as many books as I sold in the month of September 2011 or all of 2010! How did this happen? Part of it is luck or the grace of God or something I fail to understand. But I also think much of it is just putting my nose to the grindstone -- or my butt to the chair, shutting out the world, and focusing. Focus, focus, focus.
Depraved Heart is out with the beta readers. I have three new knitting patterns that need to be charted and written up. I'm well into a new Marienstadt story. I think it is good.
I keep promising myself that I will some day have a life again, that this seclusion will not last forever. But part of me says, “This is your life. This is the life you were meant to live.” Maybe so.
Wishing everyone a very peaceful and prosperous New Year and, as always, thanks so very much for reading!