When I first sat down and started writing my book, I don’t think I ever actually thought that it would be published. I felt stupid, really, telling people that I was writing a book and I imagined them laughing at the thought. I mean, who did I think I was? There was no way that I could actually have my words published and made available for all to read. Now as I sit here writing these words, I’m celebrating the one-year anniversary of my book. Or, my book’s first birthday. It’s hard to believe that it’s been one year already. So much has happened in the last year that my self-publishing a book seems to just fade into the background, blending in with various other memories, both happy and sad. I am normally not one to celebrate myself or my accomplishments, but I think it’s important for me to reflect on my book’s first year. If nothing else, I at least don’t want to kick myself in the ass later for not taking this opportunity to pause and reflect on a dream that I have actually accomplished.
Here are some fun facts about my book. My book by the numbers, if you will.
- Number of paperback copies sold: 114
- Number of e-book copies sold: 44
- Number of e-book copies downloaded for free during a promotion: 556
- Countries where the paperback has sold: US and UK
- Countries where the e-book has sold: US, UK, Canada, and Brazil
My book has also gained the distinguished honor of being included in AlzAuthors, which is a group of over 140 authors who have written books about Alzheimer’s and dementia. As part of this group, my book will be included in the AlzAuthors Book Circle Program during the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Friendly Cruise and Conference to Alaska this September.
To be honest, the number of copies it’s sold means little to me. What matters more to me are the countless strangers (I mean complete and total strangers), who have reached out to me in some way to thank me for writing my book. To receive messages from people all over the country, and even the world, saying that they have read my book and how they feel like they could’ve written it themselves…that’s what it’s all about. I love connecting with my Alzheimer’s family. I love hearing their stories. I love the bond we all share and the way we assure each other that we’re not alone. These people, my Alzheimer’s people, they are the gift my book keeps on giving.
As I reflect on my book’s first year, its successes and its failures, and all of the people I’ve met along the way, I can’t help but think that it almost wasn’t. I am not a confident person. In fact, I am the opposite of confident. I am insecure, self-conscious, and doubtful of myself and my abilities. My writing is probably the only thing that I feel somewhat confident in. But, any ounce of confidence in my writing was quickly demolished by the humbling experience of writing a book. There were so many times during the writing process that I wasn’t sure whether or not I would ever finish. I started and stopped and started and stopped repeatedly for about a year until I was finally finished writing my book. Roughly 65,000 words. I read, edited, and rewrote for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, I began sending out query letters in an attempt to land a literary agent. I queried about 40 or 50 literary agents with no such luck. Doubt began to creep in once again. I set my manuscript aside for about six months. Now what?
During those six months, I realized that if you really want something done, you have to do it yourself. I decided that I would self-publish my book on Amazon. I had absolutely no freaking clue what I was doing, but I learned. I taught myself how to do everything. I read, edited, and reformatted my book. I designed my own book cover, using a photo that my husband took. I dropped endless f-bombs along the way. But, you know what? I freaking did it! And you know what else? No one, not even one person, helped me. I did everything, the whole entire process, by myself. In fact, no one else even read my book from beginning to end until after it was published. Risky? Well, duh. I paid for it with some typos throughout the book, but I didn’t care. I wanted it to be all mine. I didn’t want anyone else telling me what to write or how to write it. I wanted to show myself what I was capable of accomplishing on my own. And, although there is always the opportunity to go back and fix said typos, I never will. In my eyes, my book is beautiful and perfect and flawless in every way. It’s all me. No one can ever take that away from me.
A book is so much more than just numbers. Number of words. Number of pages. Number of copies sold. Number of people who’ve read it. Number of awards it’s won. The only number that matters to me right now is ONE. My ONE and only published book is turning ONE. Now that’s something. Who would have ever thought? Certainly not me. But now, I know. I know that I am capable of writing, editing, and publishing a book. I’m a ONE woman show. I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed, but most importantly, I’ve learned a lot along the way. I am confident that there will be a book number two. Some day. For now, I’m just going to revel in my accomplishments thus far and maybe have a piece of cake.
Happy 1st Birthday to my baby Learning to Weather the Storm: A Story of Life, Love, and Alzheimer’s!!!