Sunday, December 4, 2011

Guest blog with Gregory Downs author of Brother Thief

Today we have Gregory Downs stopping by for a chat about his journey as a self published author while still being in highschool!  That's a pretty impressive statistic right there.  Also if you are interested in checking out Gregory's book you can sign up to win them during the Winter Holiday Book Giveaway Extravaganza right here on the Indie Book Blog.  Just an FYI he is giving away all three books of his Song of the Aura trilogy.

Kid Authors… Cringe. They Exist.

So once upon a time there was a kid. He had dreams, they were odd… and he was me.
I don’t want to bore you with the details of my slow realization of the wide world that is Writingdom. It should suffice for me to tell you who I am, what I do, and how it should all be impossible.

At age 16, I wrote my first book. It was… well, less than satisfactory. Nevertheless, it was a titanic accomplishment for someone who had never before aspired to anything greater than his next gaming session and the latest Eragon book. I decided that I wanted to get it published, so I sent it out to the few agents I somehow found through internet stalking. I think there were two or three.

Surprise! No response. Not even a rejection letter. Why this was, I may never know. Did I not format the queries right? Did I send them to the wrong place? Did they just get lost under all the slush? Or did perhaps they see the words “I am still in Highschool” in my letter and immediately chuck it?

Whatever the case, I soon came to the realization that I couldn’t make it in the publishing world, unless by some herculean stroke of luck. Oh. There is such a thing, and it’s called the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to me. You only have to be 13 to enter, and
everyone gets the same fair shot at publication. Never mind that I had about the same chance of winning at this as I did at American Idol: a chance is a chance.

So I entered my manuscript… and got to the Quarterfinals before I was eliminated.Publishers Weekly (or the hired denizen thereof) read and mildly enjoyed my book!


But that didn’t solve my problems. Birthday Number 17 was rolling around, and I’d already written three more books. I had nowhere to go with all that creative energy. I was the rough equivalent of the Highschool theatre star- no, wait, theatre flunkie- who decides they want to be an actor… and then has no clue what to do beyond dream, dream on.

Then, this past summer, I discovered the world of Indie Authors. Indie Books. Indie Presses. Indie Book Blogs like this very one. Oh my gosh. Can it be? People who do it all themselves, and have it work out? I quickly enlisted a relative to make me a photoshopped cover, and someone else to edit the book a little more. I re-wrote the ending, which I had never really liked before… and ta-da! KDP-ready material!

Imagine my consternation when I sold only 9 copies in the first month, all to sympathetic friends and family. Oh that poor kid, he thinks he’s an author, let’s buy his book and make him happy.

Grr. But I was determined to succeed. I started researching madly over the summer
break, reading heretical blogs from people like Joe Konrath and Robin Sullivan- people who claimed there were ways to make it. I started preparing my three remaining books (part of a series) for e-publishing, but doubts nagged me constantly.

I am, after all, just a kid.

Finally, in September, I released those three fantasy e-books alongside my previous
standalone novel. In July I had sold 9 of said novel, and in August I had sold 4.  This month, though, I sold 58… not bad, I thought. Not bad at all. Almost 2 a day. Irrational hope stirred in me… I couldn’t have that many friends with Kindle Apps, could I? Were other people actually reading my books?

I decided to make the most of my (sorta) success. I joined Goodreads and Kindleboards and Shelfari, trying to learn and interact as much as I possibly could. I queried a few book bloggers, and was accepted a few times, garnering 1 extra review I wouldn’t have had before. Did my efforts pay off? I’m not sure… but it felt good to act like an author, and have others treat me like one… even if they didn’t know I was just a kid behind the cool forums avatar.

September ended. My writing on books and blogs and everything in between continued, though at a slower pace than before. October came… and suddenly my sales SPIKED. In October, I sold over 450 copies total, mostly of the first book in my series. Almost no sales came from the standalone, but people were buying multiple books in my series, so the sales weren’t flukes. If they’d hated the first book, they wouldn’t have bought the second one two days later, would they?

Previously, my failure to sell billions had hurt my ego enough that I had dropped my prices. I was beginning to build confidence now, so near the end of the month I raised them again. One book was 99 cents, and the others were $2.99. Not high, but not too low, either.

And sales kept coming. In case you’ve forgotten by this point, I’m still in school. Oh, and I’m not working, either. So in comes a small trickle of money and a smaller measure of appreciation… but it floated my boat, and I was happy.

Then came November. This month I finished the fourth book in my series, which should release in a week or so. I’ve made between 800-900 sales in 15 days, giving me somewhere around 60 sales a day. I’m not Amanda Hocking, thank Heaven, but I’m not a bottom feeder any more, either. Is this my peak? It very well could be… but I don’t care. 1,000+ sales in two months is enough that even if sales just DIE today and never pick up again, I’ll still feel pretty swell about myself.

Just call me Kid Author. Ha. Ha. Ha.

This has been something of a formless ramble, and I apologize for that. Heh. I guess my point is that in this bright new world of books and authors, there’s hope for anybody… if not everybody.

In things like music, movie-making, and acting (once my dream, but that’s another story), it’s a dog-eat-dog world. If you’re not already “born into the industry,” you’ve got about as much chance at making your dreams come true as a salmon does swimming up Niagara Falls. But in writing… in publishing… there’s hope. There’s a chance.

In anything you do, you have to strive to be the best. I may be young, but I strive for
excellence in my writing, and- though I’m sure there are people who will disagree- it
seems to be working so far. And guess what? I’m not the youngest author out there. I’ve read about kids as young as 13 making it in self-publishing… holy smokes.

Plus, my mom thinks I’m a better writer than Christopher Paolini. And really, what better validation is there?


To find out more about me or buy my books, you can visit my arrogantly titled blog
And become BFFs with me on Goodreads
And like my fanpages at: and:

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the coolest things I've ever read. Well done just on writing your first book at 16 - to have a number of books out there and selling - absolutely sweet. I hope you sell a million of 'em!