It's always nice (and usually quite a surprise!) to see genre books reviewed in mainstream newspapers. Today's edition of the West Australian (Monday 29th May 2006) has a nice big article on my struggle to get into print, along with a flattering and very positive review/spoiler-free synopsis of the book.
I'm still working hard on Hal 3, and sometimes I really feel like I'm out of the loop when it comes to feedback. Once I hand in the final draft of a Hal Spacejock novel it's all in my publisher's hands, although I do attend any number of promotional and speaking events to help move things along.
However, actual info on number of books sold across Australia and New Zealand in the last day, week, or ten minutes (demanding, me?) isn't available. There's no real guide to how well it's doing, and so a writer's job is to bury themselves in the next book and forget all about the last.
But where's the fun in that? Where's the fame and fortune when you're always working on the next book and never stopping to enjoy the success of the last one? Hah - welcome to the real world of being a published author. Write, revise, submit. It doesn't stop just because someone selected one of your manuscripts, not if you want to make a career out of it.
I firmly believe you need four books in the market before anyone really notices you. Whether that's a trilogy plus the first book of the next series, or four singles, I think readers want to see how committed you are to providing them with ongoing material before they'll dive into your world.
Of course, once you've hooked them you're set, unless you get big-headed and start ignoring your editor. Trace any author's career and you'll often find later books getting bigger and bigger, looser and looser, as their editors cease to have the input they used to. To me, the worst career move for any author is to believe they're now good enough that no editor should touch their work. Well crap to that.
If you're wondering where to put your time - marketing or rewriting - my advice is to invest it in making the book better. Once it's out there you can't change it, and if you write good books word of mouth will generate more sales than any marketing by the author.
Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)