Today, I celebrate two milestones.
One is the third anniversary of when I started work on my first novel, No Easy Hope. I did not know it then, but when I sat down in my recliner that day, laptop perched on my knees, I was taking the first step on a path that would change my life in ways I never could have imagined.
However, taken by itself, this event is rather unremarkable. The simple passage of time was the only requirement necessary to reach this point. But when combined with the other milestone, and taking into account the auspicious coincidence that they both occurred on the same day, it is very remarkable indeed.
At some indeterminate point last night, the Surviving the Dead series sold its 100,000th copy.
I remember when No Easy Hope hit the 1000 copy mark. I was over the moon. When it hit 10,000 in June of 2012, I had to walk outside, put my hands on my knees, and take a few deep breaths. Then came the release of This Shattered Land, and a 30-day period when my work sold over 8000 copies, and a numb tingling in my face when I looked at the royalty statement.
Don’t even get me started on the Warrior Within release. I think I peed a little.
Now, don’t get me wrong-- I’m not bragging. I am not posting this to wave a proverbial hand in the air and say, “Look at me! Look at me! Look what I did!”
I am posting this because it happened three years to the day from when I first embarked on my writing career. That’s pretty flippin’ unlikely, but it happened. And I’m very happy about it. I think anyone would be. And while 100K is not a big
deal for the James Pattersons and Stephen Kings of the world, it’s a big deal to me.
What does this mean for the future? Not a thing, really. I still have to keep writing if I want to earn enough to do it full-time. I don’t get a special award. There will not be a plaque on my wall hereby certifying that James N. Cook is a legitimate writer and is entitled to all rights and privileges appertaining.
But it does give me a sense of validation, and a tremendous sense of gratitude. Without you, my readers, without all your encouragement and support, it never would have happened.
You people rock harder than Keith Richards on a cocaine bender. I mean it.
There are days when I doubt myself. When I put my head in my hands and mutter, “This is shit. I am shit. My work is stupid and pointless and people are going to hate it. I should call up my old supervisor and beg for my job back because I am not cut out for this. I am a pointless waste of human flesh, and I should end my existence for the betterment of mankind.”
When that happens, I look at my sales figures. I look at my author page on Facebook and read all the nice things you folks have said about me. I look at my books’ star ratings. I look at my author rank on Amazon.
More importantly, I remember that I did all this without benefit of an agent, editor, or publishing contract. Taken in that light, a hundred thousand copies is a significant accomplishment.
Which is not to say I did not have help along the way. Keary Taylor’s cover art did a lot for me. No matter how good a book is, if it never gets noticed, nobody buys it. Keary’s covers are bold, eye-catching, and look professional. I cannot overemphasize how important that is, or how important Keary’s art and advice have been to me.
From the bottom of my heart, Keary, thank you. Next time I’m in Seattle, I’m taking you and your family out to dinner.
I also hired some proofreaders along the way. Not editors, mind you. Proofreaders. Which is not to say they couldn’t have done the editing: they could have. But I am a control freak, so I did the content editing myself. The proofreaders spotted mistakes I didn’t catch and helped me polish up the finished product. They also taught me a lot about grammar along the way. To Courtney, Misti, and Lori, I am very grateful for your help.
So what now? What’s next? What’s the plan, Mr. Hundred-Thousand guy?
Well, today is Saturday, so I’m going to go do something fun with my wife and kid. Maybe throw some steaks on the grill later to celebrate. Same story for tomorrow (minus the steak). Monday? Back to work.
I am taking a short break from the Surviving the Dead series. I know you’re all anxious for the next installment (at least I hope you are, anyway), but the thing is, I can’t just write about zombies for the rest of my life. If I want to have staying power in this business, I have to branch out. Therefore, my next project will be the first installment of the long-awaited Jeremiah Cain: Vampire Hunter series.
This will not take long. I have done a lot of planning, and I think I can write it in about ten weeks. Add another week or two for editing, and I should have it ready to go by late May or early June. Afterward, I’ll get started on the next Surviving the Dead novel. Then Gladiator of Corsryn. Then another Surviving the Dead novel. Then another Jeremiah Cain novel. Then … well, you get the idea.
So to all of you who have followed me on this journey, let me just say again how grateful I am to you, and I hope you come with me on future travels. Do me a favor and tell your friends about me, and tell them I’m a long way from finished. (Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.)
For now, on to the next novel. And, hopefully, the next hundred thousand. Maybe I’ll get there, maybe not. Either way, I’m not going to stop writing even if I don’t make a dime or sell another copy. Because I love writing.
And that’s all that matters.