In a case of 'Who'd a thunk it?' as a character out of Mark Twain's stories would have said, I find myself very encouraged by the continued sales of A Baltic Affair and now the rising totals from The Outer Edge. Especially as the latter is not yet advertised in the Ingram's Catalogue and the latest sales report I have is for January and February. As the book was published early February, the fact it is showing growing sales this early is great news.
Let's be honest, an author writes stories he or she enjoys, but they certainly aren't published just for their pleasure. The acid test of any such work is whether or not it gets read by someone else. That's when all the hard work, the writing, drafting, redraftling and revisions become worthwhile. Yes, getting some money for the effort is nice - great in fact - but I think authors really enjoy discovering that others have actually enjoyed their finished work. An artist friend used to enjoy displaying his latest painting (before he got well-known enough to be working to 'commissions') on the wall of the small coffee shop near his studio. Then he could sit near the work and listen to the comments it elicited from the patrons. Authors have to hope that someone will leave a 'review' somewhere it can be found and read.
I'll admit that my writing has improved dramatically in the last eight years. It hasn't been easy, at first the criticisms were quite hard to fix, but gradually they got more and more minor and the compliments more regular. My problem has been twofold, first, coming from a 'technical' background, I have had to learn to rely less on detailed description, and more on inference conveyed in dialogue. My early books were perhaps over described and over-populated with characters, something I have learned to manage a lot better. The second thing has been developing dialogues that are understandable, readable and realistic. It has to 'read' as someone would actually 'say' it and it is surprising how much of what we 'say' is conveyed by expression, gesture, attitude and body language. We use 'cpntractions', we use colloquialisms and idioms - and seldom give a thought to how they will be received by someone unfamiliar with them. Even our humour can be a pitfall. Mine tends to be a bit 'dry' and sometimes self-deprecating, but I also enjoy those moments of pure bathos and slap-stick, and here again, humour doesn't always translate - especially the drier sort which often relies on subtlety or nuance.
So, it has been a wild ride in some senses, and I'm a heck of a long way off the 'Best Seller' listings or the 'XYZ Literary Prize' - but each time I see even modest sales mounting up, it is its own reward. Thank you to everyone who has bought my books, and especially to those of you who have gone on to read the next. Your support and encouragement is deeply appreciated.