A month ago I published my second book. Rite of Passage is the second part of my epic fantasy trilogy, Oron Amular. Having laid the foundations in my first book, The Call of the Mountain, published last November, this is where the story really takes off. It’s wonderful to have two books out now, because for months I’ve been dying to share with people how the story progresses. The Call of the Mountain was just the beginning, an introduction to the World of Astrom as our heroes set out on their quest to the lost mountain of Oron Amular. So much has changed, both in my life and in the world, since I first became a published author and it’s interesting to reflect that, no matter how well you lay your plans, you never know what’s just around the corner. A year ago I still didn’t know for sure that I was going to get published, so I’ve come a long way in those 12 months. As it was for me, your breakthrough might be just around the corner.
Publishing a second book I knew a bit more what to expect, having gone through it all already. The mingled excitement and nervousness was just the same, as were the editing and marketing processes. But the two launch events couldn’t have been more different. The launch for The Call of the Mountain was undoubtedly one of the best nights of my life, sharing my story and my creation with a room full of supportive people and loved ones. It was always going to be hard to match that. Second time around I was really looking forward to doing a book launch in Heffers bookshop in Cambridge, but then coronavirus struck. Among many more serious disruptions, I was suddenly confronted with the question: do we still go ahead with publishing this second book? It’s far from ideal to publish a book when physical bookshops can’t open, and I wouldn’t have the huge benefit of a launch event to kick-start things. I started to worry that the second book might not do as well, that we’d lose the momentum created by the first book, and that it wouldn’t work out financially. So it was a real step of faith to agree to go ahead with the publication.
The second launch was all online, so far from being able to apply the lessons from the first launch, I had to tackle a completely different thing and learn how to do a good Facebook Live event. Equipped with some notes, questions and book readings, I settled down in front of roller banners with the book covers on and broadcast to the world. It was nerve-wracking and very strange, but I quickly settled into it and ended up really enjoying it. Having my wonderful wife Lucy beside me as a co-host took the pressure off and helped make it much more accessible and light-hearted, but I’m also grateful to the fifty people who followed along at one point or other. Thank you so much for all those who came, and especially those who were so vocal and enthusiastic in tagging friends, asking questions and just being so engaged. It was wonderful. I’ll admit, there wasn’t quite the same novelty factor second time around, the same unique sense of achievement, but it was special in a new kind of way. After waiting 17 years for this, I’m going to enjoy every second of it.
The reality is that I didn’t sell as many books at that second launch, nor did I get to repeat the pleasure of signing physical books in person for people, but there were plus sides as well. Facebook allowed anyone, near or far, to join in, so distance wasn’t a limiting factor, and being able to tag friends and share it online meant word spread much further and faster than before. Hopefully loads more people are now aware of my world and me as an author. As wonderful as it now is to be a published author, I’m now having to wrestle with my own natural impatience and manage my expectations. I want to be a full-time writer and a best-seller. I want to sell millions of copies, not hundreds, and I want to get my books at the front of bookshops and websites. But I’ve got to stay patient and recognise that it’s a slow burn – it’ll take time to build up to that level. When climbing mountains, there’s always a higher peak. It’s fine to want to climb that next peak, but before you slog back down into the valley for another ascent, you’ve got to learn to enjoy the view from the peak you’ve just climbed.
The Bible encourages us not to despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10), and that’s a profound challenge to anyone wanting to start a new thing or get a dream off the ground. I believe I will get there, that I will be a bestselling author one day, so for now I have to put in the hard work and slowly build up my reputation and fan-base. It’s an on-going, daily exercise of faith and perseverance. Now that I’ve got this opportunity, I’m determined to make the most of it, but I also can’t get discouraged if the rewards don’t all come at once.
I would be writing for pleasure even if I wasn’t published, but what really helps boost my faith is the positive feedback and encouragement I’ve had. People have been very kind and generous in their praise, and I’ve been blown away by some the reviews people have written. As well as giving me more exposure, every review spurs me on and reinforces my own self-belief. It’s just so wonderful to know that it’s not just me that thinks my writing is good, it’s others as well. Amid the flurry of activity to promote the book and write more material, it’s so nice to stop and remember that people are loving my book. It makes me smile to think that people all over the world are being entertained and engrossed as they read my words. That’s what any author needs to hear. It confirms my lifelong conviction: this is what I was born to do.
Amid all the wonderful words of review, what’s really touched me is hearing people say that my book has rekindled their love of reading. Some have stepped outside their normal genres to enjoy this fantasy adventure, but some have simply rediscovered the joy of reading for pleasure. That’s amazing to hear, and is quite humbling to think I can have that kind of positive influence. Words are powerful, writing can touch hearts, and books can change lives.
These are just a few reflections from an author of two books who’s just starting in a new career and enjoying the highs and lows of a dream come to life. It’s not all easy, not everything is going according to plan, but I’m loving the adventure of it, and enjoying taking people with me on a great journey. As I work hard to prepare the next book, I firmly believe that the best is yet to come, and I put my faith in God to do amazing things with the little I’ve got to offer. Hopefully my readers will enjoy Rite of Passage just as much as, if not more so, than, The Call of the Mountain, and I hope that having read both they’ll all be looking forward to the third and final installment. Book 3, Power Unimaginable, is the explosive finale, and it’s due out in November 2020. I can’t wait to share it with you – the adventures of Astrom are only just beginning.
If you’d like to buy either of my books, just get in touch today. Leave a comment below or use the links on the Buy the Book page.