Back from Vacation Update

I have often been at pains to point out (cliché) that a content edit can't make a book into a success. An editor can do a great deal to find and eliminate issues that will make a book fail, and also, of course, show the author what to do to make it better.

One of the joys of working with indie authors is that since most of the time the authors are not expecting massive sales, most of the time they aren't seeking them, either. The pressure is on the editor to help the author to improve his craft, not to help him improve his sales figures.

So I claim no credit whatsoever in the events that unfolded over my week of vacation in the mountains of Alsace (which are very pretty, by the way, and well worth a visit; perhaps not the most dramatic of the mountains available in north west Europe but possessed of an unselfconscious charm that – probably best not to get me started).

Darren and Marcus Wearmouth hit the big red button on First Activation on August 7th. You can get full and detailed information on the launch and promotion strategy from the podcast and program notes on Rocking Self Publishing.

By the time the podcast was released, the book was already getting some pretty good sales, and the promotion strategy seems to have paid off pretty well.

On August 21st I go this from Darren, via Skype:

"Hi Harry, number 1 in the UK, for now at least!"

From Wednesday 21st I was supposed to be on holiday, but for the last three years I've taken the Kindle, Smartphone and laptop with me, because I like to read on holiday so I might as well work at the same time. Last year I did several freebies on my summer vacation, but noone sent me any this year :'(

So instead I read the first draft of book 3 in Damon J Courtney's Dragon Bond trilogy. Even before I
messing with it this is a really really good book. When, in the far distant future, Damon is celebrated as one of the great American authors of the early 21st century, schoolchildren will read the Dragon Bond trilogy in their literature classes (don't worry, at some point in the next fifty years or so, schools will start teaching again). Seriously, though, I see working with Damon as proof (if anyone needs it) that if you have the ambition and enthusiasm, you can make yourself into a talented writer. Presumably I ought also to add "if you have a good teacher" ... if you're reading between the lines on this post I'm sure you've realized that I'm struggling against my instinct for modesty.

Anyway, by the time the family and I were comfortably installed in our Gite Rural, I was already checking the sales figures for First Activation every day. The thing is, several of my regular clients do okay over the lifetime of their books, and the ones with several titles make steady sales (the ones who tell me about it). First Activation is the first time that any book that I have worked on has charted so early.

On August 22nd it was #1 in Books>Fiction>Science Fiction in the UK, ahead of Hugh (although of course he's been in the top 100 for, like, ever) and it's still there. Here's the current best category rank in the USA:

As far as I can tell from NovelRank, it managed to creep up to 164th and 25th overall in the USA and UK respectively towards the end of last week. Total sales as of this morning 10,593.

Darren and Marcus have been interviewed by BBC Look North (this is a big deal if you're from the North of England, so please look suitably impressed) - the interview will be shown on Wednesday of this week, and they've been interviewed in regional newspapers and local radio. I suppose its the speed of the rise up the charts that causes excitement, but...

But I don't believe that something rises up the charts fast like that because it's a great book, or because it's been edited by a genius. I think it's because it's the right book at the right time, with the right cover, the right title... maybe there's even having two authors does something to catch the reader's eye. The genre is the right one to be in, the book is sufficiently, noticeably different from others in the genre right from the second page.

But to come full circle, I'm not going to start trying to infer winning formulae from one modest chart topper. I've largely come to terms with the fact that I'm a literary idealist. I want all my authors to become better authors much more than I want them to have big successes. I don't know if that impacts the kind of editing I do, but it's a principle, and at my age (I shall be 40 on the 27th), I think I shall be allowing myself one.

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