Two things dominated my life this year. Starting a new job and self-publishing my book. Both of which nearly killed me, but surprisingly, I’m still here, after all.
At the end of last December, I was struck down with Covid, hardly able to get out of bed, wondering how the hell I was going to start a new job the following week? I knew my new job was going to be demanding but I had no idea just how demanding back then. At my probation review meeting much later, I actually confessed to my boss that I had found the first three months somewhat traumatic. At which point he laughed and said he had, too. I joined the live music industry at its busiest time, our ticket sales around the globe breaking all-time records following the previous years’ pandemic confinement. What can I say, it’s been a learning curve and there’s still so, so much to learn. Just as with book writing and publishing.
A Gamble Of Gods is the first book I’ve ever written, following one completed and one half-written short story that I had previously produced. Mark Lawrence often warned me not to expect too much from my first novel. Many authors write quite a few before managing something publishable. But just like at work, I have apparently exceeded expectations. And you might think this was meant to happen with a mentor like him. But it was actually very difficult. Especially when writing in a second language with aspirations high as the sky. To make things even harder for myself, I decided to mix genres and write in multiple first person. It was a riskier path to take, but I always knew I had some talent for writing. This was the time to find out how much.
Self-publishing came with its own challenges. There was so much to think about that I had never considered before. What size the book should be, what font should I use, how large, how much space between the lines, what should the cover be like, where should I get the copy-editing done, should I change my website, how do you upload a book onto Amazon, how do you format it for Kindle and what about for printed books, do I need to buy ISBN numbers, do I get ARCs made, who’s IngramSpark and why do you need those guys as well? And despite all your research, at every step you discover a couple of things you wish you would have known. Or done differently. Of course, none of it was cheap, either.
And don’t even get me start on the actual selling of the thing – the most frustrating aspect of it all. With the amount of books coming out every day it’s like swimming against the tide. A new, self-pub author, with a unique, genre-defying book that’s hard to find comparisons for. Forget identifying your market, it’s more like carving out your very own, one reader at a time.
But enough with the moaning! Let’s see what I managed to achieve despite these challenges!
Reviews are what keep me going. They are also what most motivate new readers to buy the book in my experience. And they are glorious. I’m very pleased to say that most people who read my book, enjoyed it very much. I collected a list of blog reviews with excerpts and links over at this page, so I’m going to quote here from a selected few which didn’t appear on blogs:
“A thrilling mashup of genres: fantasy, sci-fi, comedy and romance, all whipped together into something unique and an absolute joy to read.” – Adam, Goodreads
“Extremely well written book. unique mix of interesting worlds and concepts. The set of main characters are all fully engaging, flaws and all!” – Jana, Goodreads
“The writing manages to be beautiful and poetic while remaining filled with action. […] A lot of fun and a lot of witty banter, and it will have you smiling or laughing out loud for much of the book.” Katie, Goodreads
“This might be the most impressive debut novel I’ve read.” – Julie, Goodreads
“Great prose, and a pacy story you always want to turn the next page on. A surprisingly good ‘first novel’.” – Steve, Amazon UK
“I am not usually a big fan of SFF and prefer more high fantasy, however, Mitriel Faywood has changed my mind on that. I could not put this book down and afterwards I found myself in a slump and unable to read anything else because of the book hangover A Gamble of Gods left me in.” – Amy, Amazon UK
At the end of 2022, A Gamble Of Gods has a 4.42 average rating on Goodreads (24 ratings, 20 reviews) and a 4.8 on Amazon (8 ratings, 7 reviews (UK+US). These are tiny numbers, but given all the above, it’s not terrible. It confirms that the book is good, it just needs people to give it a chance. Which brings me to sales.
In 2022 (the book came out on 11/11/22) I sold 43 hardbacks online, another 50 through The Broken Binding bookstore, 28 paperbacks and 169 eBooks. Which is 290 books altogether. It doesn’t sound bad, but of course I receive a small fraction from each sale, most of the revenue being deducted for printing, handling and distribution and given the high upfront cost with self-publishing, I would need to sell thousands, just to break even. The book is also on Kindle Unlimited, but for some reason it’s completely lost in there, with only 5,170 pages read so far. Compared to what other self-pub authors are posting about their figures, this is truly terrible, and I will have to look into how I can improve that (change keywords? book description? cover?)
In the end, to stay pragmatic, I have to ask myself the question. Do I struggle on, or do I just give in and write something more traditional and commission a more conventional fantasy cover? And why not just change my name, profile picture and pretend to be a man while I’m at it. This could be so much easier. But fuck it! I do like a challenge, and I much prefer to create something new and unique than try to copy what other people are doing. It’s just like Elden Ring, that I finally found some time for during the last few weeks of the year. I die in the game practically in every two minutes, then I get up and try again. Another day without a review? Another day without a sale? Another post few people cared about? A giveaway with weak results? Failed advertising? You get up the next morning and try your best again. This monster is too big for us just yet? Run! We’ll come back to it later.
So, let me finish this blog post with a big THANK YOU to all those wonderful people who read and enjoyed A Gamble Of Gods! (Have you left a review? Did you tell all your friends to buy it? What about your enemies?) Don’t worry, I won’t let you down. I already started writing the second book and have received very positive feedback for the first few chapters from my beta reader, Mark Lawrence, who said it was much stronger than the first book. I promise you, in 2023 I will continue to do my best with it.