Trading self-publishing for a road trip from St. Petersburg to Hood River

So how's that new book coming: It isn't, not until the Kile family returns from a massive summer road trip.

No, really, how’s that new book coming?

One of the great benefits of self-publishing is not having to wait around for months and months for your publisher to lay out your book, change the title three times, design a cover, and shuffle whatever stacks of papers big corporations shuffle before getting anything done. Well, I’ve managed to take self-publishing and match corporate speed. My book is done, “beta readers” are beta reading, but on the eve of my self-imposed summer sabbatical, it has become clear that this book is not coming out this month. Which means, it’s not coming out in June or July either because I’m going to be doing something way more fun than formatting an ebook and proofing paperbacks: a 9,000 mile family road trip. Sure, a couple of weeks ago I could have gone into high-gear and published it, but I didn’t want to rush anything and have the task of fixing little issues while I’m on the road. It’s nice that you can continually update your book on Amazon with a click and send, but I don’t want to be trying to connect my laptop from a tent in the Sierras because someone found a typo on page 189.

So I’m taking deep breaths and letting go. I’m accepting that when the summer is over I’ll be able to dedicate my focus to launching The Napoleon Bloom without distraction. I’m learning that the “tricks” to a successful eBook launch are a fluid thing. In the early heyday of self-publishing with Amazon (and other platforms too, but Amazon is like 85% of the market), good writers needed to make sure their product looked professionally done, and eventually their work would rise to the top as readers discovered them. A decade later, there are far more writers turning to eBooks, and that means a lot of garbage and a lot more good writing as well. And just like a real book store, Amazon is going to promote what sells. 

The other day I was having lunch with the prolific and extremely talented Nathan Van Coops (who wrote a book while I was writing that sentence) and he was talking about the challenges of getting your book seen by potential readers. We all know that if you search for a toaster on Amazon they will show you a product, and then show you other products purchased along with it. This is great, except most new authors’ early purchasers tend to be family and friends with disparate reading interests. So if Aunt Joan tells her romance book club to buy your sci-fi novel, Amazon is going to promote your book to people buying bodice rippers. Authors should make sure that the first fans who buy their books aren’t friends and family, but fans of your genre. Get granny a paperback. 

When I finally do launch my next book, I’ll study up on the latest strategies, focusing on the ones that build a true audience, rather than gaming the rankings. You may have heard about the guy who published a book containing a picture of his foot and made it into a “bestseller” in five minutes. I’ve known people who want that “bestseller” label so they can book speaking gigs, but “bestseller” alone doesn’t pay the mortgage. Or, in some cases, buy the stamp to mail that payment. 

In the meantime, as I put the final tweaks on my novel, I’ll be turning to a more personal writing project with my family’s travel blog, Don’t Make Me Turn This Van Around. Somehow the moments of acute misery of traveling with two bickering kids appear rosier through the backward-looking lens of a blog post. 

Bad genes forced Jonathan Kile to give up a life as traveling salesman. Good genes make him a fine and — some would say handsome — writer. His new family travel blog Don't Make Me Turn This Van Around, is an international sensation. His first book, The Grandfather Clock is available on Amazon. He's been lying for months, claiming that the sequel, The Napoleon Bloom, would be out this spring. It won't. 


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