A while back, I think it was around October(?), Hugh Howey of Wool fame was the Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon, and he likened the experience to being selected for Oprah’s Book Club, back in its heyday, where the mention could instantly propel you to the top of the charts, bestseller status and the like.
Which, based on my experience from February 2nd, has to be about as close of a comparison as you can get.
I’m about to put words into mouths here, but I’m going to assume that it’s every indie author’s dream to receive that kind of exposure. It’s certainly been mine since I started this process of putting words out into the world. As I’ve mentioned here on this blog before, I’ve been writing fiction for about 18 years. (18!) I started in college when I took a creative writing workshop, taught by Sheri Reynolds (who was, coincidentally, an Oprah’s Book Club selection for her fantastic novel The Rapture of Canaan). That led to years of solitude, pounding away on a keyboard, and then querying (begging) literary agents to take a look at my work.
All of which resulted in either canned responses or comments such as, “We like it, but…”
I mostly gave up for a time. Years. I moved on to different interests like standup comedy and starting my own businesses, but writing always drew me back. Now and then, I’d put a couple of pages down on paper and forget about it.
Fast forward a bit, through all the fluff, to the point where I began publishing my work through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. No longer were my words sitting idly by on an old desktop PC, covered in so much dust that an archeologist would need all the proper equipment to uncover it. I was writing, people were buying my novels, but I was primarily earning enough to buy groceries or fill the car up a couple of times each month.
Then came Sara’s Game. The little book that could. It took off on its own, whether through word of mouth, or that catchy blurb, or that haunting cover. Whatever the reason, copies were reaching readers without my interference. Then came a great free run where the book got into tons (digital tons aren’t as heavy) of hands. Then came a promotional ad that shot it up the charts to #25 in the Kindle store. Then came an email from Amazon, in early January, asking if I’d like to potentially be involved in a promotional opportunity with them.
WOULD I? How quickly I could say “yes” was directly proportional to how quickly I was able to wipe away the coffee that I had spewed all over my monitor so I could see what I was typing. (That didn’t really happen, but the emotional response was the same.)
Amazon didn’t mention what the opportunity would be, but damned if I wasn’t going to agree to it, no matter what it might be! But surely, someone such as myself with a book that had been selling moderately well, compared to other knockout indie sensations like Hugh Howey, or Colleen Hoover, or Tracey Garvis Graves, wouldn’t be selected for anything as prominent as the Kindle Daily Deal. I hoped, but I didn’t expect (or even imagine).
Then came the morning of. (The Morning Of. A nod to Gillian Flynn. Go read Gone Girl.) And when I say morning, I mean, like, 1:30AM, getting up to check on the baby, unable to get back to sleep, and then checking out the Amazon page for Sara’s Game because I’d seen that a new review had popped up. At that point, I noticed my price had been discounted.
What? When did I do that? I know I’m baby-tired and sleep-deprived, but I don’t remember changing…maybe I… NO WAY.
Cue the flushed cheeks. The quickening heartbeat.
Cue almost voluntarily dancing. (I don’t dance. On purpose. Don’t want to scare the children!)
Cue rapidly clicking through Amazon to the Kindle Daily Deal page and…
DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN.
Or, DEAR (whatever you believe in) in (wherever your deity resides.)
The Kindle Daily Deal. The Holy Grail of Bookselling.
First, the exaltation:
We’ll be able to afford diapers and expensive formula! The bills! We can pay the bills! I’m a real writer now! People will read my book!
Second, the fear:
People will read my book! That’s a lot of eyes. Man, I hope I didn’t miss any typos. (I did, there were three. How? Still! How?!) I hope they like it.
Third, the result:
Sara’s Game reached #2 in the entire Kindle Store, second only to Nicholas Sparks, which is a fairly good guy to be an “also-ran” against, if you ask me.
We can pay the bills without worry. We can buy diapers and formula.
I can keep doing what I have always wanted to do, which is write, for fun.
At least for a while.
All of this rambling is simply to say this: Thank you, Amazon. Thank you for the opportunity. I know you have a million choices that you could’ve picked, loads of which come from writers better than I am, but you chose mine, and I’m grateful. Thank you for helping me sell enough books so that I can hold up my end of the deal around a house populated by a newborn baby and an extremely understanding, patient, and encouraging wife.
I’m lucky. So very lucky.