Thursday, July 29, 2021

Without You: 6 lessons I learned from my debut book

Last month marked the 6th year anniversary of my debut novel 'Without You'. The paperback of the book was released on June 3, 2015.

'Without You' marked the birth of a novelist. It also assured me that I could create a story that could grab the attention of readers. But it gave me many life lessons as well.

Let me share some of the lessons I learned through my debut book. Hope you find these lessons informative as well.

1) You cannot please every reader

Even though the majority of the readers have loved the book, there were odd voices here and there who absolutely hated the book. These voices and opinions emerge every now and then. Initially, it hurt to see my book baby torn to pieces by ruthless reviewers. Now I accept the fact that not every reader is going to love my book. It is all about perceptions. Ignore haters. Take feedback from genuine readers and cherish them.

2) Self-publishing can make you financially independent

It was with 'Without You' that I stepped into the world of self-publishing. When I began there were hardly any Indian writers self-publishing. My first month's royalty from the book was 4944.39 rupees. This was back in September 2015. It was my first paycheck from Amazon and literally the first royalty I earned. From then on, my earnings have gradually increased with the addition of every new book. I earn a comfortable passive income now through my books strictly through self-publishing. 

3) You don't need to be an expert at the craft to start writing. You can learn on the job.

When I began writing 'Without You' , all I had was the experience of writing a few short stories. But I knew I had a story to tell. I had been an avid reader since childhood and the words that got imprinted in my mind poured out in the form of stories.
 I belong to a tiny town in Kerala. Being a small-town girl, I had many limitations. English is not my native tongue though it was my primary language, I made errors. 
As I was used to reading classics mainly, my sentences used to come out as lengthy and complex. But I was determined to work on it. I sent my story to a professional beta-reader before approaching a publisher. The response from the beta-reader was positive and I sent it to a publisher who accepted it.

4) An editor can make or break the book

The first edition of my book had a few grammar errors and run-on sentences even after multiple rounds of edits by multiple people. I decided to get another round of edits done. I asked a few professional editors to edit a sample chapter and eventually selected the editor who messed up the least with my voice or story. Some editors tend to give the story their voice, instead of retaining the writer's style or voice. Thankfully, my editor was good and she has stayed with me to date.

5) You don't need to spend thousands/lakhs of rupees to market your book if you have build your brand online

I had been a blogger before I became an author. I had built a social media presence as well by the time I released my book. This helped me greatly. I see newbie authors nowadays investing heavily into marketing. Most use the wrong methods. Bulk purchases, bulk reviews, fake reviews, fake articles and fake awards. If you go down that path, whatever money you earn through your writing will go down the drain. The downside is you will have to opt for these methods every time you release a book. Do marketing wisely. Don't fall into the lure of fame and forget why you started writing in the first place. Earn genuine readers and build a readership base.
The reviews and ratings I received for 'Without You' both on amazon and Goodreads are all organic. It has over 600 plus ratings on Goodreads and 120 ratings on Amazon India. 

6) Write from your heart 

The most memorable praise I received from my mentor Anita Nair was that I write from my heart. And perhaps that was the reason why 'Without You' succeeded as well. 
The story was told through the eyes of the female lead and is comprised only of what she saw, heard and thought. I didn't know then that this type of narration is a popular new trend in modern fiction called the Deep point of view. I learnt about it later on and could understand why the majority of the readers who wrote to me praising 'Without You' told me they felt like they were Ananya, the female lead, as they read the book. Deep point of view does that to a reader.

'Without You' is still one of my most popular books and amazon selects it frequently for promotions. It gave birth to the Sreepuram series as readers wanted to know the stories of the other prominent characters in the book. I have written three books in the series now and two more on the way. 

Did you find these lessons helpful? 

Have you read 'Without you'? 

If no, it is available on Prime reading now for Free.
Free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited membership as well. 

Preview the book here: