I remember the day like it was yesterday. I clicked a button on a web page in the morning, waited impatiently for several hours, and finally noticed a subtle change shortly before taking my wife to dinner.
The Mine, the first novel in the Northwest Passage series, was no longer "in review." It was no longer an idea or a rough draft or a work in progress. It was live on Amazon.com. It was a published book and subject to the scrutiny that all books face.
I've learned a lot since February 13, 2012, when I joined the ranks of published authors. I've learned that covers matter, that marketing is a never-ending job, and that readers like happy endings and characters they can relate to. I've learned that producing a novel is time-consuming, humbling, and often frustrating but infinitely rewarding.
The rewards, for most of us, are not large royalty checks, awards, or publishing contracts but rather the thoughtful and often useful comments from readers. As one who cares about his craft, I've learned to pay attention not only to those who like my works but also those who don't.
Supporters are important, of course, because they keep indie authors going. They remind us that the hundreds of hours we spend on our "hobby" are ultimately worth it. Their opinions can make a day.
Constructive critics are no less relevant. When they point out flaws in our books, they help us improve. They ensure that we focus on what's important to the consumers of literature and not the creators.
In two years, I've also learned the value of perseverance and patience. When you try to find a niche in a world of millions of books, you learn that this business is a marathon and not a sprint. Even modest success takes time.
This year I plan to continue that marathon by releasing The Mirror and then starting a new time-travel series. With any luck, I will be able to apply what I've learned and keep a good thing going. It's been fun.