Mistakes I’ve Made along the way to INDIE Self-Publishing Success

To date I have 11 books available on Amazon.  Of them, 8 are tutorials for teaching English to Spanish speakers.
3 are books about dogs – A memoir, a novel and a short story collection.

Now in all truth, the first is a bit of an embarrassment.  Apparently some people have enjoyed it and I get the occassional good review but this is not an example of what I want my writing to be.  The latest turned out really well in my opinion.  I don’t think there are any glaring plot holes or horrific grammar errors.

My slight regret has to do with the Novel LOBO.  It’s not that there is anything wrong per se with the book.  I think it is a pretty good first novel despite the obvious ‘first time author’ pitfalls of which there are a few.

There are a number of scenes in which I would have been served by adding a prop or catalyst for observation or conversation.  This would have swung the needle out of the ‘TELLING’ mode and into the ‘SHOWING’ mode.  There are some info dumps.

The structure of the story jumps around a lot.  This is because it is built with each chapter starting with a narrative section and then the KEY CHARACTERS get a chance to say their piece.  One reviewer mentioned that it was as if each character was being interviewed at different points of the story.  That was exactly the idea I had when I wrote it.

Where I made my biggest error is really not related to GRAMMAR or STRUCTURE or PLOT HOLES etc.  My error is largely in the area of MARKETING.  If I wanted this book to fall into the Young Adult category, I would have needed to have a strong protagonist of about 13 – 17 years old.  As it stands, the main non-canine character is a young girl of 6 years old.  Antonia.

The book largely revolves around the dog, Antonia’s Grandfather Pepe, his childhood friend Padre Miguel who is a priest and a motley crew of criminals and cops.  At the time I wrote it, I had the story in mind and only the story.  This is where my plan ran off the tracks.  Sadly, not everyone is willing to read a good story just for the sake of the story.  They want a book with a character they can relate to, someone going through the kinds of trails that they have been through or are going through.  This is where I lost the YA audience.

I have rearranged the categories on Amazon for this book and I’m pushing it as a Crime novel.  I don’t know if it will fare any better in that genre but in the end, I missed the mark.

I have two new books in the works.  In both there will be an element of romance.  And animals.  One is a novella which is going well and which I hope to release this year.  The other is a novel.  It concerns a Horse, a girl, a corrupt politician and a Horse race.  That one will be strictly written and marketed for both the YA and Romance genres.  With any luck, it might hit big and then bring some much deserved traffic back to my other books.  (He says humbly)

Only time will tell.  So the moral of the story is …. KNOW YOUR NICHE …. KNOW YOUR GENRE.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.


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