Celebrating a milestone!


It’s been a pretty good month for Jackson Speed and his editor (me).

Last month I published the third book in the Jackson Speed series and (for the first time) I spent some time creating a spread sheet with all of my Amazon.com sales (to include paperbacks and Kindle downloads, paid and free).

As May came to a close and June started, I realized that I was just eight books away from hitting my first big milestone. I had already distributed 992 books (that’s a combination of all four of my books) through Amazon.

I posted it on Facebook and a few of my friends were kind enough to drop $3 (or in a couple of cases, $12 plus shipping) to push me over the edge.

I’ve now distributed 1,000 books through Amazon.

These people are not celebrating the World Cup being in Brazil, they are celebrating 1000 copies of Jackson Speed novels going out through Amazon.

These people are not celebrating the World Cup being in Brazil, they are celebrating 1000 copies of Jackson Speed novels going out through Amazon.

I know what you’re thinking: “Wow! A thousand books! This dude must be a millionaire!”

That’s what I was thinking, too!

But I’ve run the math with a calculator (twice) and I’m not a millionaire. If 1000 book sales were going to make me a millionaire, I’d have to be selling my books for $1000 a piece.

Besides, most of those 1000 books that I’ve distributed through Amazon were on free Kindle days where people were able to download the book for free. So I haven’t sold 1000 books through Amazon, but I’ve distributed 1000 books through Amazon.

Anyway … it’s a milestone all the same.

The hope is that the people who download the book for free will enjoy it and maybe come back for more. The truth is, most of the people who download the book for free haven’t read it and never will. When people see free books that interest them, they’ll frequently download the book but never come back to it (I’ve done it myself).

However … I have heard from a handful of readers who did download a book for free and enjoyed it, and that’s the neatest thing to me – being able to connect with people who like my books and are literally all over the world.

At some point, I gave up on marketing my books. I decided the more important thing for me was to write more. Book marketing becomes a full time job if you let it, and I have a full time job. I had to either market my one book or write more books. So I decided to write.

The extent of my marketing scheme now is that I post on Facebook sometimes, tweet links to my blog or books on Twitter once in a while, and I update my blog periodically.

The fact that I’ve had 1000 people get copies of my books with little marketing from me is a true blessing.

I’m still writing and still not marketing (though at some point I do plan to really start pushing the marketing), so 2000 books through Amazon may still be a year or two away. But that’s okay. I’m loving writing, I’m enjoying connecting with readers, and I’m having a great time making spread sheets that show that in one month there were 46 people who downloaded El Teneria for free and in the following two months 14 people bought Blood Tubs, the sequel to El Teneria.

Anyway … if you can count yourself among the 1,000 people who have gotten my book through Amazon, I honestly, truly, sincerely am grateful to you.

And if you’re one of the people who has sent me an email or a message on Facebook or a comment through my blog or if you’ve come to a book signing or posted a reader review on Amazon or in any way expressed to me that you enjoyed my book – again, thank you so much. I don’t have the words to tell you how much it means to me.

When you write and publish books, you take a huge part of yourself and put it on display for other people to see. When you read a book, you get a glimpse into the mind of the author – his thoughts and imagination are on display.

It’s a terrifying and embarrassing thing to expose yourself like that.

But … if you’re among those 1000, I appreciate what you’ve done to help make it a little less terrifying and embarrassing. I guess the real joy isn’t whether or not I’m making millions of dollars with my writing (although I am considering pricing Jackson Speed at the High Tide at $1000 when it comes out), but the real joy is having people respond favorably to the things I’ve written. Thank you so much for making these last couple of years writing about Jackson Speed a real joy!

* I should note that I’ve sold or given away many, many paperbacks, too (I don’t have good numbers on that, but somewhere approaching or maybe just over 200). So if you’re a Jackson Speed fan but you’ve never bought a novel through Amazon, I’m also grateful to you!

Regretting a phone call I never made

James Guthrie was the first in a long line of excellent reporters I’ve hired over the years, and not only was he one of the best writers and storytellers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with, he was also a good friend.

James Guthrie, reading The Oconee Leader. This may be the closest thing to a photo of the two of us together.

James Guthrie, reading The Oconee Leader. This may be the closest thing to a photo of the two of us together.

A year ago (April 12), I learned of his death on Facebook, which is all kinds of ironic because Guthrie was not a Facebook kind of guy. He was an outdoors, hunting and talking to you face-to-face kind of guy.

I was just finishing up my 2012 taxes. I opened up Facebook and my news feed was full of photos of Guthrie. This was a weird thing because Guthrie didn’t post a lot of photos of himself on Facebook. I glanced at the caption under one of those photos and saw a remark about how much Guthrie was going to be missed. Then I started reading all of the captions under the photos, and then I started trying to imagine reasons for people to be saying the things they were saying that didn’t involve Guthrie having died.

James was younger than me. He had two young children. He had nothing but a glorious life ahead of him, and nothing in my life’s experience helped me to get my head around the fact that he could have died so young.

I guess it made it worse, too, that Guthrie was one of these people who absolutely gets everything he could out of life. Every time we talked he had stories of new hunting adventures in Africa or South America or Canada. Or he was on his way to a gun range somewhere to play with some really cool toys that I can never hope to have a chance to shoot, much less afford.

I think anyone who knew him would agree with me: Learning that James Guthrie was dead was like a kick in the damn gut. I was torn to pieces.

A couple of months before his death I sent Guthrie a private message on Facebook. I just wanted to catch up, and because I’m always too busy for anything, I wanted to do it on my time when it was convenient to me. I wanted him to just send me a response and tell me how wonderful his life was with his beautiful family and where his next adventure was going to take him.

But Guthrie wasn’t a Facebook kind of guy, so instead of sending me a quick we’re-caught-up-now message on Facebook telling me life was wonderful and his family was beautiful, all he said was, “Call me.”

Well … you know me. Monday is deadline day at the paper and I’m up all night working, and Tuesday I sleep late and Wednesday somehow turns into Friday and Saturday and Sunday I’m on soccer fields and then it’s Monday again. At the time, too, I was finishing up Jackson Speed & The Blood Tubs and Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings, so I was busy with books.

A week went by and I hadn’t had a chance to call him. Then another week. Pretty soon, two months had gone by and I hadn’t called him.

And then I learned on Facebook that I’d missed my opportunity.

I thought about calling him all the time. In the car, at the office, after dinner – but I kept putting it off. Not for any reason, I was just always too busy for anything.

I’ve tried very hard to live a life that minimizes regrets, and I can say with all honesty that I have a very, very few. But not calling Guthrie still haunts me a year later.

It’s easy to get lost in our own worlds – work, kids, projects, The Walking Dead marathons … whatever it is that occupies all our time.

But I would really, strongly urge you: No matter how busy you are, don’t let a good friend’s last words to you be “call me.” You’ll regret it if you don’t make that call.