Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Rise of the Readership

I write these Mile Marker posts because I imagine you are interested in what it’s like to have a career as an author. Sadly, I’m not a good source for such research. Granted every author’s story is different, but I suspect mine is more than your usual atypical. Maybe one day I will sit down and tell it to you, but for this installment I wanted to report a new development on the whole career progress thing. 

I began with one book (The Crown Conspiracy) which I sold anyway I could. I pushed them on friends and acquaintances. I begged bottom tier reviewers to look at my novels. I became involved with sites like Goodread’s in their infancy. I did tiny bookstore signings in my local area. I attended local book clubs hoping they would discover I was an author and ask to schedule my novel for the group. Robin and I did everything we could and nothing worked…until it did, and I received my first review from someone I hadn’t personally sold a book.

As chronicled in my 2010 post: Momentum I first noticed other people were starting to help me. That was the start. From there came many more mile stones. 

When I got a Wikipedia Page

When I sold ten thousand books

Goodread’s Choice Award nominations

The first post where I discussed mile markers, was in early 2010: I Must Be Someone Now which explains the whole deal with trying to gauge one’s position in a game where they don’t provide maps or levels. Even then I realized that the goal posts keep being moved back because the field grew bigger. From a puddle, to a pond, to a lake, to an ocean, challenges and opportunities just keep getting bigger. And so I keep track. 

The last major mile stone marker post was Mile Marker Nine in which I reported how stunned I was to find fans at a major convention who had come specifically to see me. The post wasn’t named Mile Marker Nine because it was the ninth marker, but in honor of the grand total of nine readers who came to see me—a record that still stands to this day. Granted that was in 2015 and I haven’t been to a convention since. By now I bet I could pull in a solid twelve…maybe. 

You think I’m joking, or trying to project a false humbleness. Everyone always thinks that, but remember you’re fantasy readers and have great imaginations. You have preconceived ideas that I am famous. I’m not. At least not in the way to think I am. There are moments when I see something online and start to suspect I am, but these are rare and always quickly squashed by the next thing I find. And I still have never seen anyone reading or possessing a book of mine. They are still in the bookstores, however, and I’m more than satisfied with that. 

Nevertheless, I have noticed a few new developments. 

Readers have begun to build things. 

Unless I’m mistaken, fans of my books are creating more and more online sites. I stumble on them by accident. The Riyria Discord site that I mentioned before is but one. Then there are the video reviewers that have held hour long discussions on my entire body of work. Not as a review, just to talk about what they liked. It’s like watching a late night infomercial. I should be paying these people—except that would ruin it. 

And then there is Riyria Explained, which raises the bar to a whole new level. Josiah Collins is a reader who loved watching lore videos on video games and fantasy series (World of Warcraft, Wheel of Time, Cosmere, Lord of the Rings), and so when he first read my books years ago, he was surprised no one was already doing that and it became a long term hobby. 

He started in 2020 and now has 53 videos that help explain my world and include theories that speculate about the future of the world and the series. He even has a nice promo for the novel Farilane with his wife doing a very professional job on the voice over. Thanks to both of you for that. 

Years ago, I was envious of George R.R. Martin’s famous fanbase who kept such good track of his world that he had been known to consult with them on details. Now this is happening to me. 

And so this is Mile Marker 10: Rise of the Readership. 



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