Samantha Wood, author

The road to paperback...

Cover aside, I also worked with a wonderful team of editors, proof-readers, e-book publishers, photographers, and web designers who all contributed to the final product, because there’s no point in having a great story if you don’t have a professional-looking product and a platform on which to sell it.  It was then uploaded to all the major e-book sites, and was finally – finally – out in the world. Admittedly, sales started slowly, with a total of about 10 in the first month.  There was the marketing side of things to navigate first.  As a clever author friend said, “A great book without marketing is much like a scream in space – nobody hears about it.”  As mentioned earlier, the publishing landscape has changed a lot since my first book was published so social media became an invaluable tool, and slowly my profile, and sales, began to grow.

Alongside the hard work, there were lucky breaks too. I managed to get a BookBub feature around mid-year which, as any author will tell you, is the holy grail of book promotion sites.  I then watched in head-scratching amazement as my book was downloaded 52,000 times over the course of a weekend.  Over the following months the reviews started rolling in, the majority of which were wonderful life-affirming words from amazing readers all over the world.  It was as if the tiny voice in my head was whispering, “See, I told you so.”

Where to now?  Well, I’m glad you asked…

I have just sent off the print version of The Bay of Shadows to one of the aforementioned publishers and am waiting with almost uncontrollable glee for the moment when the proof copy arrives in the mail.  It will probably be another couple of months before it hits the bookstores, but there it will be, ready for a browser to pick up, peek inside, sniff that brand-new page smell, and possibly even carry over to the counter. There will still be more marketing to do – that is something that never ends – but I know what I’m doing now so it is far less daunting than it was 12 months ago.  There is also my next book, Under Ten Thousand Stars to finish, but more on that later.  I’ll share my progress with you over the coming months, but I just want to farewell this year with thanks to all of you from the deepest place in my heart.  For every like, comment, share, follow, review, recommendation, email, and words of encouragement – you’ve made my dreams come true.

AS I CELEBRATED THE ONE-YEAR anniversary of the publication of The Bay of Shadows a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d take a little time to look back on the year that was, and how ‘rejection’ turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

It all started back in early 2016 when I’d finished the final draft of The Bay of Shadows, and excitedly sent the manuscript off to publishers nationwide.  It had been over a decade since my first book was published so I really wasn’t sure what to expect, other than I might be in for a long wait until someone got around to reading it.  That wait, it turned out, spanned about nine months and involved 27 rejection letters, along with numerous no, thank you emails and probably the worst rejection of all - the wall of silence. That’s to say, no reply at all.  It had gotten to the point where I doubted myself so much that I considered giving the whole thing away, and going back to university to do another degree.  Ostensibly, to hang on the wall next to the two never-used yet lovely, shiny degrees that I already have.  But I knew my heart would break irreparably in two should I stop doing the thing I’ve loved my whole life.  It was the tiniest voice inside my head that told me not to give up because this was my dream and, as I paraphrase Cinderella’s fairy godmother, “Don’t let anybody stomp on your dreams.”

So what to do?

It was my wonderfully wise editor who suggested that I self-publish.  At that point, I knew very little about self-publishing other than it was a platform for niche subjects like obscure historical fiction and vintage car manuals. Oh, how wrong I was!  It was Matthew Reilly, the action thriller author who wrote – and self-published – his first book Contest in 1996 after being rejected by every major publisher in Australia, and has since gone on to write a slew of bestsellers. The publishing landscape had changed considerably since then and there are now companies that specialise in e-book and print-on-demand for self-published authors which, as it turned out, was rather fortuitous for me. I can say, with hindsight, that a big part of my success had to do with one very important factor:  the cover.  There are many great books out there that languish on shelves because their covers aren’t catching the reader’s eye – and getting someone browsing in a bookstore to pick up your book from all the others on the shelves – and not wander off to look at something shiny over there – is half the battle won.  I had the great fortune of working with a wonderful designer who perfectly captured the mood of the novel, while also giving it a bit mysterious quality which helped draw the readers in.

Sunday December 17, 2017