Tonight’s email from OhLife reminded me that one month ago today I published A Gift of Ghosts. It surprised me. Wow, a lot has happened since then and yet it also feels as if  no time at all has passed. I guess a lot of living has happened: the Christmas Dr. Who marathon and Korean food, the solo sixteenth birthday, the trip to Boston that both lasted forever and was far too short. In book terms, though, it’s been a month.

And a good month, too. Not for writing. I’d be dismayed if I tried to figure out how few words I managed to generate, so I’m not going to try. But the book sales certainly exceeded my wildest expectations. Of course, then I started to imagine even wilder scenarios, which was fun for a few days, too. Still, even once the daydreaming stopped, I’m pleased with month one

So, onto the numbers. It’s a little confusing because of the giveaway, and because some sales were from other Amazon sites, but I think that as of the end of the day today, I have given away 2073 copies of Ghost, sold 221, and “lent” 44 through the Kindle lending library.

And right now, I have 30 reviews on Amazon. Six are from people I’ve met in RL, although that said, two of those were quite unexpected to me (and really nice). Three other people from my RL have read the book, said they loved it and that they would write reviews, but I’m not holding my breath. (Nor naming names, obviously.) It’s an interesting phenomenon, the review promise, and I’m not sure I understand it, but I’ve definitely decided that all statements about people’s prospective behavior when it comes to books should be taken with a grain of salt. And/or a mental deadline of infinity. Many of the others, understandably, are from people that I know in some context online: either fanfiction, critique circle, or the mom’s board, with one review from my WOW guild. But there are also several from people I don’t know at all, and that’s pretty darn exciting.

A little digression about reviews: the self-publishing community seems to have (IMO) a very strange attitude about reviews. To me it seems really obvious that all of the first readers of your book are going to be connected to you in some way. How else would they find the book? It’s almost impossible to stumble across a book on Amazon in amongst the millions of other books and who would ever decide to read it if there were no reviews? I truly do not understand the people who think that there’s something unethical about letting your friends and family write reviews. I basically assume–and I would expect that most other readers do likewise–that the first five reviews have to be by friends, family, or acquaintances of the author when a book is self-published. A self-published author doesn’t have the network of reviewers, the promotional budget, and the PR experience that a mainstream publishing house has. But getting friends and family to leave reviews is not planting reviews unless they haven’t read the book and are lying in their review. That’s obviously a bad idea because it’s going to mislead the reader and then you’re going to get annoyed readers writing reviews. But it’s ridiculous to not make the most of what you have available to you. Anyway, in my case, I’ve mostly asked people to mention if and how they know me, but I am definitely not going to discourage people from writing reviews.I wouldn’t write a dishonest review and I don’t assume that the people I know would either, so the more reviews the better, as far as I’m concerned. (And yes, I have basically decided that since the whole point of self-publishing is not following other people’s arbitrary rules, I don’t intend to start following the self-publishing community’s arbitrary rules, either!)

Wow, that turned into a rant. Not intentional!

I intend to use two more of my free days on Friday and Saturday of this week. I scheduled it at the beginning of the month: Friday is my first day of practicum and Saturday I’ll be hanging out with the visiting niece and nephew, possibly at Universal Studios, so I figured it’s a good time to do it, I won’t be paying any attention. I’ve already given it away to all the people I know, so I expect it’d reach a smaller number, but we’ll see, I guess.