Taking a chance at 2:00 in the morning

It was 2011, and the world was changing. It had become “flatter” in the words of Thomas Friedman. The technology was changing. The internet was becoming faster, and the storage/memory capacity of all devices from computers to laptops to phones was growing exponentially. Another thing happened during my dark years---these are the years when I gave up on writing and “No Time To Run” sat unloved in an electronic folder in my laptop---Amazon released the Kindle.

By 2011, people were starting to independently release their books as ebooks on Amazon and Smashwords. The Nook and Kobo were also growing. These authors were beginning to have success, because, for the first time, distribution was no longer a problem. You didn’t need to drive around the country with a box full of physical books in your trunk. Through technology, an author now had the ability to deliver their book instantly to anyone in the world. There were the pioneers: J.A. Konrath, Barry Eisler and Hugh Howey. They took a chance and left traditional publishing houses for the world of ebooks. There were also those that I call the 99ers. These were writers like John Locke and Amanda Hocking who self-published their books on Amazon and charged 99 cents. They never had a traditional publishing contract or a fan base. They started from scratch, and they found an audience.

In the fall of 2011, it was late at night. The kids were asleep. My wife was sleeping, and I read an article about how Amanda Hocking had just sold a million copies of her book. It stirred something inside of me that had been dormant. I thought about “No Time To Run.” It was a book I loved. It was a book that I had invested hundreds and hundreds of hours into, and nobody besides my wife and parents had ever read it. I wondered, what would happen if I uploaded it to Amazon and charged 99 cents?

I drank a few beers (liquid courage) and started reading about how to make an ebook and how to publish it. At around 2:00 a.m., I uploaded my manuscript to Amazon. I wrote a description, set the price, and I was ready to go….except I didn’t have a cover. Quickly, I Googled: Cheap Book Covers. A website popped up, likely a Russian hacker organization that would steal my credit card number, which offered book cover templates for $1.99. Despite my fears of becoming a victim of identity theft, I paid the money and created a simple cover for “No Time To Run.”

A couple of clicks later, and my book was live. “No Time To Run” was released into the world, and, at first, nothing happened. Nobody bought my book for the first few days, and then I sold a copy. Did you hear that? I SOLD A COPY OF MY BOOKS, AND IT WAS NOT MY MOM. I had told nobody of my foray into the world of ebooks. It was a secret. Somebody, not related to me, read the description of my book and decided to pay 99 cents to read it. It was awesome. This was the first book I ever sold, and then, after that first sale, a few more trickled in. Then I got my first Amazon review. It was a real review, and it was five stars. Did you hear that? SOMEBODY GAVE MY BOOK A FIVE STAR REVIEW...SAY WHAAAAAAAT?

I think I sold about twenty-five copies the first month, and the number kept on growing. I got about sixteen positive reviews, and I was starting to feel great. I had taken a chance at 2:00 a.m. I didn’t play by the rules. There was still a stigma associated with being “self-published,” but I didn’t care. Something that I wrote was out in the world, and it felt great.

JD Trafford