Any writer who wants to see patience and perseverance in action, read this piece by Claire Kirch in Publishers Weekly, on Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin. He self-published his children’s book The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep about five years ago, in Sweden, and it has slowly built up a strong readership over the years, becoming a best-seller, and gaining the author a seven-figure deal with Penguin Random House.
Carl-Johan explains how sales grew slowly, how he enlisted friends and family to help him translate the book into other languages so he could self-publish abroad; how he used social media to help spread the word, giving away e-book editions of the title on Facebook, and how sales took off. This took years. Patience, perseverance, and yes, hard work. Good for him! I’m delighted to see success like this come to someone who has put the effort into one piece of marketing after another.
This is a book for children, but I think the lessons apply to any writer interested in independent publishing – or traditional publishing (because most publishers will expect you to do a lot of marketing on your own). Whether you like the book or not, whether you write for children or not, the lessons in marketing work. Keep at it. Try everything. Don’t give up. You never know when some outside force will pick you up and run with you, and lead to that “overnight success” so many writers dream of. Remember: if the plan doesn’t work, change the plan – not the goal.