Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pirates, Karma, and Dropping Out of the Race

I had to stop. I couldn’t go any farther. I was 10 kilometres into a 26 kilometre run, in training for a full-marathon in May, and I stopped. My body was fine, I had no aches and pains, and I’d run a half-marathon the week before with no problems, but I stopped. It didn’t feel good. I was nauseous and had a headache and felt overwhelmed, really overwhelmed. There aren’t many things I’ve stopped, but I did, I stopped running and headed home.

In the last three weeks there have been more changes and personal accomplishments than I ever could have imagined happening. First of all, My Temporary Life, became available as a free download on Feb 10-12, in an Amazon promotion. The idea is that folks download it for free and then with the momentum that has built, when it becomes a paid download on the fourth day, it sells. Well, to say that it worked is an understatement, so, I’ll say it this way-IT WORKED! It became the most downloaded ebook in North America for one day, a couple of Sundays ago.

My Temporary Life, built up momentum like a rocket taking off, there was nothing gradual about it at all. By the second day, it was floating between second and third place overall in free downloads. On the third day, Sunday Feb 12th, well you know what happened, because you heard me. You heard me screaming. Yep, doesn’t matter where you were, you probably heard me. We hit #1 overall. I sat in stunned silence for a moment and then ran around my empty house screaming. Spock, the cat, is still recovering. He’d never seen my ultra-happy dance before. It was a very proud moment, and we stayed there from 10 AM Sunday morning until 1 AM the next morning, and I know that, because I checked the rankings on my computer or phone every four minutes throughout the day. Did I mention that it was a proud moment?

So, then, the next day happens. This is “paid” day. This is the day where we don’t listen to the naysayers on the Kindleboards, and we trust in Amazon, and their marketing geniuses. Once again, they were right. It changed over at midnight on Sunday and paid sales slowly started to trickle in. The next morning I expected to see 15 or 20 sales. We had over 200. Over 200 folks had pulled out their credit cards and decided to take a chance on my self-published book, that over 120 publishers and agents turned down (oh, did I forget to mention that part).

Sales continued all day, and the days after. We peaked in the overall rankings at #9. Now, this is the important chart. This is where we leapfrogged over Stephen King, and the Steve Jobs book, and Sophie Kinsella, and a very popular book called The Help. We didn’t get to jump over Twilight or The Hunger Games, but they were right in front of us, along with their well financed promotional campaigns. Again, a very proud time, but it didn’t stop there. An independent website emailed to tell us that we were the #7 most downloaded independent ebook of the week; we did a bunch of online interviews, emails and reviews stacked up like crazy, the momentum was deafening. So, Jacquie and I left Spock, the cat in the capable hands of a friend, and we went to Portland.

We took a short trip that had been planned for some time and enjoyed some shopping and eating and laughing, and spending time with our friends, and the momentum kept going. We hit 60,000 downloads, 51,500 of which were free There were so many requests for information that we issued a press release. Yep, we issued a press release talking about the book that I wrote in the spare bedroom of our house, and the phone continued to ring, and emails kept coming in. A Dallas, Texas television station ran the story. They were interested in the fact that over 120 agents and publishers had rejected My Temporary Life yet all these folks were downloading it. Our overall rankings on Amazon started to fall but we were high everywhere else. We were on the Movers and Shakers list. We were one of the top 10 self-published ebooks on Amazon. We were #2 in Romance/Suspense. We were #2 in Mystery/Thriller. And more 5 Star reviews kept coming in every day.

Jacquie and I got home to Vancouver, and I ran my half-marathon. After the race, we sat in the car and read the newest reviews. Two of them made us cry. It’s an amazing experience to read about how your work, your characters, touch another person the same way it touched you when you wrote it. The sales figures are amazing, and they really are amazing, and I’m so grateful, again, that so many folks have taken a chance and enjoyed my book, but the almost overwhelming part is that you have an opportunity to touch so many people. We now have reviews from Luxembourg, England, Australia, Germany, all over really. Our current numbers as of this day are over 66,000 people have downloaded My Temporary Life. Now, while all this momentum was carrying us through, it was also getting a little help-I was spreading the word. You see, although, I do trust in Amazon, I was spreading the word myself at the same time. I was posting reviews, sales figures, anything I could, to get the word out there. I was on Amazon discussion boards, Kindleboards, KDP’s Community site, Facebook, Twitter, even Craigslist! All I wanted to do was tell people about my book. And, in doing all of this, not a lot of other writing was happening. In fact, no other writing was happening, or sleeping for that matter. And, you see, there are several things that I have to do in my life to feel good. One of them is running. I need to run long distances to make myself feel good. The other is-I need to write. I just do. I was running a little bit, and sleeping four or five hours a night, but not writing at all. That was the first problem. The second problem was the pirates. The pirates showed up a few days ago.

My Temporary Life showed up on a piracy site. Someone had taken my work and changed some things, kept the cover (who wouldn’t, it’s a fantastic cover), and was giving it away. So, we quickly sent a “cease and desist” letter to them, and the owners of the site were kind enough to take it down right away. I remembered years ago, sitting in front of my computer and playing with Napster, and I felt karma kicking me solidly on my rear end.

Then, came my 26 kilometre training run, and again, my half-marathon the week before had been fine. A friend and I chatted for the whole race, and it was a great day, but that was before the pirates, and the television station, and the emails that kept coming in from folks wanting another book, and all the other things that were happening. So, as I said earlier, I stopped running.

It was good. It was the right thing to do. I made the decision that my training has to be curtailed and I’ll run a full marathon next year. This year, I’ll just concentrate on halfs. I’ve cut back my hours at work in order to work on the ongoing promotions for My Temporary Life, and of course I need to start work on the next book. So, as I said at the beginning, there have been lots of changes, and they are good changes, it’s what I always wanted, but they sure haven’t come gradually, they’ve come very, very quickly.

Our sales have tapered off a little bit lately, but there is another promotion that we are doing with Amazon in a couple of weeks that hopefully will shoot them back up again. And, oh yes, the sequel has been started. “My Name Is Hardly” is underway, and I’m very excited about it. I’m aiming for a December release (gulp), and as you can tell by the title, due to the many requests from readers, Hardly’s story is going to be told. So, thank you everybody for helping us on this journey and spreading the word and Facebooking, and Tweeting, and emailing your friends with this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006O2P13O. Every time you’ve told someone about my book it’s made a huge difference, and the book that over 120 agents and, oh never mind, that doesn’t matter now, the word is out there, and people are enjoying the book.

Thank you all, very much, it’s truly appreciated!

Martin Crosbie

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