Becoming a Cult Author
Writing is important to me — a form of catharsis — an outlet to my strange imagination. Taking back control of my work under my own imprint, DS, I have tried certain things and have learned some lessons. First, I feel it is important to start off small which is why I have chosen to be exclusively at Amazon for now. When I was with a small publisher, a lot of my e-book stories were pirated from different sites. Disreputable resellers would re-list paperbacks using quotations in the titles and adding dates like 1800 to create separate entries. Lots of lost sales with no DRM (digital rights management) caused my publisher to pull my books from certain markets and lower the price to try and fix a situation that had gone south, but it was too late. The piracy and the unromantic nature of what I write led to an amicable parting of ways. The struggle is real. Books are hacked and stolen all the time because there is a culture out there that wants everything for free, not understanding or caring about the effect that it has on writers. All of this makes me cautious — a step here, a step back there — all to see what works.
Marketing is a difficult grassroots struggle. I have: a domain, davidsharpwriter.com; author Facebook, www.facebook.com/Writer.DavidSharp; Amazon author page, amazon.com/author/sharpdavid; Twitter, twitter.com/David70Sharp; and Instagram, www.instagram.com/dsharp70, accounts. The balance is hard to maintain in finding what to post and the time to do it. I limit my blog to once a month, and other posts come irregularly during that period. Even a lesser amount of social media is a challenge as life goes on with family and work. More importantly, I want to spend most of my writing time working on new and repurposed material, instead of posts.
Advertising is another slippery slope. In my experience, buying ads on FB is mostly a waste of time. Sure there are some gains in followers, but is it worth the cost? I honestly do not know. I consider it on par with printing out postcards and leaving them places for people to see --- those methods may only work once in a blue moon. I am unsure of Goodreads, with its slow moving results, but starting anew is a consideration to keep on. Moving forward, I may try Amazon ads out of curiosity, just to see.
On this new venture, DS, I have been submitting books (Anarchy - Strange Tales of Outsiders and Wild Boys - A Peculiar Western Novel) for review. It takes a lot of submissions to get a hit, much like fishing. I should have some more reviews on the way soon. Everything is one step at a time. I am a member of HWA (Horror Writer’s Association) --- it has given me some unique resources, as well as an unexpected invitation for Anarchy to be displayed in the Nichols location of the Naperville Public Library in Illinois as part of their local authors collection. I never thought I would have a book in a library --- that is pretty cool.
Writing is an adventure of slow discovery. I want readers to find my books and be intrigued, as I do not fit in an easily qualifiable niche. I love horror, but I also write queer punk fiction. Hell, I have even written a western. Currently, I am writing the second book, Punks, in my Rebel’s Edge series. Based on true events from my teenage years, it is in the style of a gritty YA novel like That Was Then… This Is Now by S.E. Hinton. The most important lesson I have learned is to be myself and let my writing be organic. The themes of misfits and outsiders on a journey are consistent in my works, along with a similar style and feel, no matter the genre. My books are raw and different from what is out there and will find an audience over time. I embrace the strangeness and the queerness of my fiction and aspire to become a cult author, because that is who I am.