Last week, I achieved two milestones. My book, One Degree of Freedom, turned six months old and its number of reviews on Amazon passed 70! These first six months have both crawled by under the weight of the pandemic and restrictions to in-person events and sped by. I look back on the joy of holding my newborn book in my hands for the first time as the single brightest light for me in all of 2020.
To say it’s been challenging to have a book released during a global pandemic is quite an understatement. Did you know that an average of 1,165 books are published in America every day? That’s a heck of a lot of competition, so I’m thrilled with every achievement, small or large.
Some highlights from the first six months:
- My book achieved the #1 New Release banner (twice) before it was even launched.
- My book was the biggest seller in November 2020 at my local bookstore, and #5 for the whole year.
- It was listed as one of the Top 11 Books to give for the holidays by the Charlotte Observer.
- Several blogs and podcasts featured me and offered giveaways for my book.
- Over 2,000 readers signed up on Goodreads for a chance to win a copy of my book.
- I did have a few in-person book signings and author events, both when the book first came out and just recently. The events planned for the winter months had to be cancelled due to Covid (except for the Zoom ones, of course).
Each of these accomplishments makes me happy, but what I love the most is reading reviews. If you want to see what readers think, click to read some on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews are the main way a book gets noticed, especially one like mine with no marketing budget.
My first book, We Wait You, was published back in 2008, when most of us weren’t up on posting our thoughts. It only received 20 reviews. They were all positive, except for one. Wilma Snell gave me a 1-star rating and wrote, “I cannot get it onto my Kindle.” Really, Wilma? Is that the author’s fault?
But here’s the best part: I received 319 personal messages (handwritten letters or emails) from “fans.” That means that 319 people, mostly strangers to me, took the time to let me know they loved my book. Wow! They said it made them cry and laugh; they didn’t want it to end; it inspired them.
How do you know the exact number, you may ask? Writing is hard, solitary work that is filled with rejection. One especially difficult day, I counted those messages to encourage me. When I feel down, I re-read them. I only wish they’d been posted online . . .
As I look ahead to the next six months of my book’s life, I hope that one day soon my book can become a Big Sister to a newborn sequel. Nothing would make me happier than being able to announce that I’m expecting another book. Fingers crossed!