In case you missed it, Anyone But Cade is now live and available on Amazon. I don't really want to try to convince you to read the book with this post. To me, the whole point of my website is to give a behind the brain look into what I do for people who already enjoy my work. So the thought of spending an entire post trying to compel you to buy my book wouldn't really mesh with that philosophy.
I do want to talk about everything between the lines, including the launch of Anyone But Rich, which I haven't talked about on here yet. Anyone But Rich's Launch
As it turns out, setting my expectations extremely high for the launch of a book is a recipe for disappointment. Considering I've done this exact thing multiple times by now, you'd think I would learn. Instead, I gradually built up the launch of Anyone But Rich in my mind as this kind of new beginning. I thought it'd be a relatively resounding moment that made it clear I could move on from the grind that self publishing can be. I was more like a real author now. I had a publisher. I had a team to take care of all the stuff that's not as fun as writing, like marketing and booking promotions.
Before I go into talking about my reaction to how Anyone But Rich performed, I do think I need to explain a few things. One is that I always *always* recognize how insanely lucky I am to be constantly competing for spots in the top 100 with my new releases. There aren't many people in the world who can say that, and I never take it for granted. At the same time, part of what drove me to work to this point is my competitive spirit. I always want to feel like I'm improving, whether it's in my abilities as a writer, a marketer, or a cover and graphic designer. That is all really, really important to me. It's probably the only real fundamental piece of my entire business model: "Always improve." With that being said, the primary metric I have to measure my improvement is the performance of my books. In the same way a football team can practice for the entire offseason and still tell you the only thing that matters is what happens on Sunday. That's just how it works. I can't really believe I've improved as a writer or in any other respect if I launch a book that fails to meet my expectations. So when I get to my reaction to Anyone But Rich and its launch, I don't want it to be taken as me being ungrateful for those who did read it. Instead, it's just my competitive drive to always do better. So how did it do? Anyone But Rich did perfectly fine. It didn't set records or blow anyone at Montlake's expectations out of the water. It peaked around rank 30 overall in the store and didn't stick around for an unusual amount of time before slipping steadily in rank. The main issue was that I had so long to anticipate the launch and so long to set my hopes too high. For starters, I was really impressed with the traditional publishing editing process. I felt like the book I ended up with was steps above my normal level of quality, which I was already pretty happy with. To me, this was going to be a book that fans of mine were over the moon about. It was all my usual stuff, plus a completely new level of polish and even more depth from the rounds of developmental edits it went through. Instead, the reviews were kind of mixed. That was my first point of disappointment. On Goodreads, especially, it didn't seem like the book was universally viewed as an improvement over my previous work, which was a huge blow for me. I'd invested almost three months writing this book, which is at least double what I normally spend on a book, so hearing it ended up seeming worse to some people was tough to hear. Outside of reviews, it just didn't feel like it had the kind of explosive launch I'd been psyching myself up for. One mistake I made initially was trying to compare it directly to my self published books. I'd just gotten off a run of the six book Object of Attraction series. Four of those went top 10 and the other two went top 20. In my head, having all the extra resources of a big fancy publisher meant something I worked on with them was undoubtedly going to be my best-selling book of all time. After all, if I could get books into the top 10 on my own, what could Amazon's own publishing agency do? Except it's a little more complicated than that. That complication is a pill I've had to swallow with difficulty over the past few months. Montlake doesn't operate in the same mentality that I do as a self publisher. They don't judge a book's success on the first couple weeks, or even months. They do more work in building a series as a whole and long term promotions, while self publishing is generally skewed really heavily toward immediate promotion and more or less letting older books just kind of do what they'll do. All in all, the people at Montlake seem completely fine with how the book did. They aren't even ready to really start passing any sort of judgment on it until the whole series has been launched. For me, it was mostly a wakeup call. I thought this was kind of my graceful exit from self publishing as I transitioned into the world of traditional publishing. Instead, it hasn't really been that kind of definitive moment. Depending on how books 2 and 3 do, it could still wind up being what I thought it'd be. Or maybe it won't. But I've gradually found a way to get my focus back on keeping my self publishing work alive, and I'm about two weeks from finishing book one of a brand new self published series. Anyone But Cade I know this post is supposed to be about book two, but I wanted to make sure I explained everything that happened with book one before I got into it. I made the mental adjustment for the launch of Cade to pretty much kill my expectations. Obviously, I still want it to do as well as it can. The difference is that I didn't let myself fantasize about the possibilities. In some ways, that was easier with a book two. I've never personally had a book two do more than roughly equal the performance of book one. That means I'd be betting against 30+ books of data if I was expecting this one to do better than Rich did. I'm also more realistic now. I understand that I won't be able to decisively call it a success or failure after the first week or two like I can in the self pub world. I've got to learn to relax a little and avoid constantly trying to pass judgment on the book. The good news is that as happy as I was with Anyone But Rich when I finished it, I was even more happy with Cade. I felt like this book took some of the things I do best and wrapped them in a heartfelt story that was hilarious but also sincere. The reviews on Goodreads and Amazon have been a lot better so far, which is awesome. Final Thoughts
To sum it all up, my foray into traditional publishing has been a learning experience. At times, it has been humbling, too. I came into this whole thing feeling burnt out on the grind of self publishing and looking for a way out. But taking an unplanned period of slowly publishing showed me how much I missed the fast pace of getting books out and always having something new close on the horizon. Now, I'm not so sure I'd really want to completely give up self publishing. Maybe Montlake will decide to work with me on another series, and I'll be happy if they do. Maybe it'll end up being many more over years and years and years, which would be awesome. But either way, I think I like having the option to do something as crazy and likely stupid as self publishing a book like "The Golden Pecker". There's a freedom in knowing I can do something crazy and nobody gets hurt if it goes horribly. But there's also something satisfying about having an entire team behind my books. In the end, maybe the real end-game for me is to have my toes in both pools. Let's just hope Anyone But Cade and Anyone But Nick do well enough to give me that option. Otherwise, it'll be back to the world of self publishing full time for me. That's all! xx Penelope