This chapter will be entirely dedicated to my happiness, so be prepared for cliches and annoying tears of joy…
When I started writing this blog, The Freedom Game was in the editing stages. My sister Kristen read it for the first time last summer and as we were living together at that point, I was able to see a lot of her reactions. She was happy when I wanted her to be happy, and furious at me when I wanted her to be furious at what was happening to my protagonist, Ethlynn. When she finished it, she said she could genuinely see it on a shelf at a bookstore and my heart nearly exploded. She also pointed out to me how much I had improved since the last book I finished (one the world will never read due to it simply not being good). It was then that I decided that nothing would stop me from publishing that book.
The list of rejections goes past being able to count on my fingers and toes. Several of the agents only responded with template responses, and the rest didn’t respond at all. Each ‘no, but remember that this is a subjective field, so keep trying’ was another piece of my heart breaking. The template emails were kind, but they weren’t ‘yes’, and that almost made it harder. It made me sad rather than angry.
That’s where my sister Kristen and best friend Courtney stepped in. They were the only two at that point who had read the book. Not only would they ask about the agent’s responses, but they would ask about my characters. It hardened my resolve, and I can say now that I doubt this book would be published now without them.
In January I reached out to Y. Nikolova at Ammonia Book Covers. Several emails and six days later, she had the first draft of the cover drawn up. That was when I purchased Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn. With my degree in Finance, I knew that I wanted to do everything right from a business prospective as well as a creative one. I published in May, because that’s when “Fantasy/Sci Fi” sells the best. I had people read the book prior to publication because I wanted their reviews posted on the first day. I studied pricing so that I knew how much I could afford to ask for as a debut indie author. I did everything.
On May 23rd, it published. I was at my full-time job for eight hours that felt like eight years. How dare the real world not put itself on hold for my special day?
I had people texting me pictures of the screenshot ‘Thank you for purchasing The Freedom Game by J.E. Brand’ and every single text was like picking up a piece of my once broken heart and putting it right back together.
It was that same week that I had my first unaccounted for sale. I couldn’t trace it back to anyone I knew, and my heart might’ve possibly stopped beating all together. I was also getting reads through people could read it for free (I get paid per page read) and I knew that anyone I knew wouldn’t choose to read it that way. Within two days eight hundred pages of it were read, which is it being read nearly three times! Then, on May 25th, a complete stranger rated it 4 stars on Goodreads and my heart might’ve stopped beating all together. This meant two things: (1) a stranger had read my book from start to finish and (2) they had actually liked it. It was my first completely unbiased review, and it was still good.
The thing about debuting as an indie author is that it’s a marathon, not a race. I get a sale here and there. That review from the 25th is still the only review of my book, and that’s okay. I write because I love to do so, and I publish because I want to share what I love with the rest of the world. An expression you often hear when depressed involves “making a mountain out of a molehill”, but let me say when it’s reversed, and every little victory is like conquering a mountain, the world is a very good place. Every time someone buys my book, it’s another reminder that my dream actually came true.
None of it felt real until the picture posted above. It was when I held my book for the very first time. A book that I wrote was in my hands. I could hold it and it was real. I could flip through the pages and see words that I had written. In the back was an ‘About Author’ section with my picture at the top. The picture was taken after my freakish sobbing finally calmed down and my eyes weren’t as red, but definitely still producing a tear or two. It was surreal but undeniable. I’m now a published author, and I couldn’t be happier.