I'll admit, being a writer didn't change my life as much as I expected it would. First of all, I really thought that, after some pushing and promotion on my part, my novels would gain a following of their own and start selling steadily on Amazon and other online venues. No such luck. I was expecting maybe five or ten Amazon sales a week; instead, the first quarter of this year, with three novels in print, I saw twenty Amazon sales - virtually all of the E-books. Lesson learned: if you want your books to sell, you have to go out and sell them yourself, in person. So that is what I do now.
Last Saturday I drove an hour and a half down to Tyler, TX to a nice little Christian bookstore there called THE SCROLL. I stayed for five hours and sold nine books - not bad, considering the slow foot traffic that day in the store, but slightly below my ten book threshold for a successful signing. But the folks at the store were very nice, and I have already booked a return engagement there.
I'm a school teacher on summer break, so during the week I didn't devote a lot of time to writing related endeavors. I am trying to put off starting another novel till this fall, but I have written a couple of short stories this summer and have gone back and edited some of my older ones, horror stories that I wrote some 20 - 30 years ago. I'm actually pleasantly surprised at how good a couple of them are. I also visit my books' Amazon sites almost daily, seeing if there is any change in my sales rank or any new reviews posted. I use social media to promote my books, and try to post tidbits about them several times a week. I'm supposed to do a radio interview this coming Wednesday, so I got that date and time nailed down with the host.
Wednesday night I went to my old church, which I left five years ago when I took my current pastorate, and did a slide show on my trip to Israel. Of course, along with my pottery shards and Roman artifact collection, and brochures from all the neat sites I visited, I packed along copies of my books, and sold four more of them. Several of the folks in the church had bought one of the books and wanted another; others were buying them because they knew me. But, the money put some groceries on the table, filled my car with gas, and paid for lunch out yesterday, so that's always nice. Another lesson learned: the money from book sales does come in handy, often providing a bit of income that is sorely needed to get through the week.
My big literary effort this week, however, has been editing my recently finished novel, THE GNOSTIC LIBRARY. I finished this one in March and haven't touched it since then - haven't opened the file a single time. I like letting a story gel once it is completed, and after three months, this one was now ripe. So Thursday I opened the file and started reading and snipping here and there. The problem is that I want to just get lost in the story and not change anything, but I manage to keep my inner grammar Nazi channeled and spot some spelling inconsistencies, redundant word use, and awkward sentences here and there. Really, though, my prose generally comes out pretty clean.
And I am very proud of this story. I think it is the best of the Capri Team series, and I hope it will fare better than MATTHEW'S AUTOGRAPH has - my third novel has proven to be the poor stepchild of my literary efforts, selling far fewer copies than the first two. I plan to bundle the three of them together as THE TESTIMONIUM TRILOGY when this latest one comes out and see if I can sell them that way. At any rate, I've got three quarters of the story edited. I may publish another excerpt here on my blog when I am done, and then it goes back into cloud storage to wait until I send it to my publisher this fall.
What else has gone on? Well, I've lived life, of course - all the non-literary aspects of it, being a husband, father, rancher, pastor - the many hats that I wore long before I became a novelist. I even managed to get out Monday and go arrowhead hunting for the first time this month and found three nice points, one of them a sweet Paleo artifact (for the non-collector, that's a spearhead from the Paleo-Indian era, over 9,000 years old!). I've dealt with household stuff, bills, church activities, and even had to put down one of our goats that got mauled by a dog. In short, life goes on.
Has being a writer changed things? Yes, sure, it has, in some ways. My Saturdays are rarely my own any more. Even now I am thinking OK, Lewis, in two hours I have to start getting ready for today's book signing event in Watauga, TX. I've also met some wonderful people and gotten some amazingly positive feedback for my books. But overall, being a novelist is just one more hat I wear as I walk the road of life. Thank all of you, faithful readers, for walking it with me.
And, if you haven't yet done so, surf on over to Amazon and buy or download my books!