I officially published my first book: ‘Happy Collisions’, on Amazon the other week and the experience of doing this was utterly terrifying but at the same time, exhilarating.
When I was learning how to publish the book, I learnt a lot about the world and how much stupidity (or bravery – the words are interchangeable) a creator has to have to put them-self out there, ready for the world to judge. The experience has been invaluable, and I have learnt so much from the past couple of months.
My experience started during my GCSEs last year, as I was very stressed and needed a creative release.
I had written a couple short stories and posted them on an online website for free and they were slowly gaining attention from a wide audience. By looking at the statistics I could see that I had readers from Scotland to Bangladesh and all the way to Australia. It was completely overwhelming, and I was getting around 500 reads on each chapter as I posted them. My audience slowly started asking for an actual story, with a plot and character development.
So I came up with the idea and plot for Happy Collisions, for the duration of my GCSEs I worked on the story and eventually finished it; by the end of the experience it had received a lot of love from around the world and had racked up a total of 5 thousand reads for the whole book (in the span of 2 months).
Now, my 22 short stories book has gathered over 130,000 reads in total from around the globe (from over 100 countries) and the rest of my books have, on average, 10K reads. The extent to how far the internet reaches shocks me every day.
The response to Happy Collisions was incredible, and many readers began asking for a sequel. During the summer holiday of 2018 I finished ‘The Collisions Series’ (a trilogy) and eventually my book-writing journey was complete. I left it on the free website until the Easter holiday of this year, when I decided to publish it ‘properly’. I had found a publishing company that my mum had found earlier in the year and I was fully intending on publishing with them until half-way through the process when I realized I wasn’t totally comfortable with working with them. Instead of giving up or just signing with the contracts that I wasn’t sure with, I found an alternative direct publisher and chose to work with them instead, this was Kindle Direct Publishing; they enabled me to publish my ebook and paperback separately (which the previous company didn’t do) for free (also something the previous company didn’t do).
My only criteria for the new publishing house was that they had a ‘print-on demand’ service. This means that when a buyer clicks the ‘buy’ button they get it from a ‘local’ print-house rather than one where the author is, (or in some cases, the author them-self). This was a major necessity to me as I didn’t want to have to pre-order 500 versions of my own book, only for them to never get sold.
I also wanted the publishing house to have no upfront fees. As a first-time author, I have no audience who are going to purchase my book from day 1, and therefore if I spend £25 on upfront fees, it would take me (if my royalties were £0.25) 101 copies to be sold before I get a profit. Of 25p.
I then got to work editing and improving the original document until I thought it was ready; I eventually uploaded this to KDP and ordered a proof paperback version. The initial experience of holding my book for the first time was surreal. Finally, my book was finished, and I published it live as a paperback as well as an ebook. This feeling was the most interesting, I’d finally published my work as a legitimate ‘thing’ that someone could buy; and, in a narcissistic sense, I expected to be the new JK Rowling within a day… that didn’t happen, obviously, but the support I’ve got so far from family and friends has been amazing.
That feeling hasn’t gone away and I feel as though it never will, I can proudly say that I am a published author at the age of 17, which still is mind-blowing; but, at the same time, I’m still a child, I haven’t had much ‘life-experience’ and yet my work is out there for the world to read…
Throughout my publishing journey I was acutely aware of the lessons I’d be learning, not only to reflect on in my personal statement for Universities, but on my CV and in general conversations with actual adults. It is a weird feeling, when you’re going through an experience, to be thinking so clearly about how that present moment might affect your future.
But I can truly and proudly say that I am a different person since I started writing my books online, and then publishing one. Firstly, I learnt how to be patient throughout this experience, as I’ve had to realise that things don’t tend to happen overnight. Some aspects of the experience were mind-numbing: editing out meaningless spelling errors, changing character names over and over again and correcting my shockingly bad grammar… it took a lot of patience, but it was completely worth it as I now have a complete book that I am so proud to call mine.
I also had to learn how to be confident in myself and my own work, as I am having to have to promote myself and my book in hopes of convincing somebody to spend their actual money on my product. I am genuinely so grateful to anyone who spends any money or time looking over my stuff, whether it is my free chapters online or my book on Amazon; I have now got a sense of pride in myself and my book that I have to use as confidence when talking about my book. I have learnt so many lessons throughout this experience and to any shy author who wants to do as I have done, I give this one piece of advice: go for it, the experience is amazing and the lessons and rewards you get, (even if nobody buys your book) will last you forever. Or at least they did with me.
My new book, Happy Collisions is available on Amazon.co.uk right now and I would be so grateful if you checked it out.