Eons. Ages. Centuries… It’s been forever since I posted a new blog here. There was this book thing, and that kept me more than a little busy as I took an old scrap of a draft (or a “manuscript” as we called it) and turned it into something that could be submitted to a new publisher and brought to life. In other words, I’ve been a little busy.
Where to start? I think the logical point was just getting the thing into shape. It’s still rough, even now in the printed version, but I got my head wrapped around that right up front. It was way more than rough as a manuscript. It was a mess, basically, and it was made more than a mess once we digitized the one printed copy and put it into an up-to-date format and app. It was a puzzle of misprints, odd symbols, missing letters, and transposed grammatical marks where letters should be.
If you’ve ever edited your own writing, you know how hard it is. The mistakes and the hidden glitches are invisible to the writer. It’s just about impossible.
So, after at least 10 times through it, for both me and my wife Barbara, we finally just threw in the towel and said “That’s it. It is what it is. Whatever glitches are left are going out to the world.” I still see them now, as I randomly open my copy and read a chapter, but it’s too late to do anything about it. It is what it is.
We got it submitted, went through another final two rounds of editing (still discovering things we missed the first 10 times through it) and just let it go. “Here it is world! This is what it is and as rough as it may be it’s still way better than how it looked in manuscript form.”
So how did it do? I’m not quite sure how to describe it…
Bats, Balls, & Burnouts did great. There was a lot of pent-up demand for it back then. I was proud of the sales figures and still have a copy of my first royalty check, as a real-life author, for $1,410.18 framed on my office wall. At the time, I thought “Well this isn’t what I expected. I thought I was gonna get rich!” but that’s not how this works.
How Far? did well too, but not quite as well as the first book just because it was so different. A totally new genre, a completely different take on my writing style, and no built-in audience. Plus, my publisher convinced me to go with a lower cover price, which was good, but that created a lower royalty rate, which was almost embarrassing. Making about two bucks per book? Well, I guess I always said “I’m not in this for the royalties” were words I had to live by.
The Lost Manuscript turned out to be a completely different animal, and it’s not done yet. My previous publisher, for some reason when asked if we could do a presale on Amazon, replied “No, we don’t offer that.” Thankfully, my new publisher Palmetto Publishing, did offer a presale. As we say in the world of cars that go fast, we blew the doors off.
I had no preconceived notion as to how it would do in a presale. No concept at all. Zero expectations. And it went stratospheric within days.
We opened at Number One in the “Motorsports” category, and there are a lot of books in that category, ranging from the history of Ferrari in Formula One to how-to books about how to hop up your Ford F-150 pick up. It’s a big category. And we ruled it for days.
It was just crazy, basically, and to a great degree I understand why. Like my first book, this one had a built-in fan base. Maybe even more so. I know I did a good job publicizing it via social media, so people were ready for it, and man did they all cut phenomenal reaction times at the tree to get off the starting line and get those orders in. I was blown away. I’m still blown away.
That was more than a month ago and it’s still rocking. When the sales ranking slips for a few days, I worry that we’re over the hill and on the way down, but then we spike back up again and I can’t believe it.
I don’t have hard sales data, which means I don’t know how many copies we’ve sold to this point. The only data I get is the book’s ranking on Amazon. There are about 3.7 million books on Amazon, so anything better than a ranking of about 200,000 is really good, as a percentage of what’s available on the platform. We’ve been killing that.
It will be a while before I know what we’ve actually sold. The publisher waits a good while to make sure there are no returns from Amazon (my publisher is basically the wholesaler, so I get paid on what they sell to retailers) then they take their sweet time tallying the numbers to come up with a royalty payment amount, and they also wait another month before they cut you a check. Will it be more than the $1,410.18 I got from my first publisher for my first book? We’ll see. I think it will be, and it won’t be close.
If you’ve ordered The Lost Manuscript I thank you enormously, and hope you’ve received it by now. If you’re still thinking about it, don’t be afraid to dive in. I think it’s a good story.
It’s been beyond my wildest dreams. I’m damn proud of it.
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