A person wearing grey socks, with a book and a pumpkin

Photo by alex geerts on Unsplash

Ashtar Deza
by Ashtar Deza
5 min read


  • Blog


  • Mental health
  • Writing

I’d told myself that I’d give my book a fair shot by marketing it until Halloween. After that, I’d take a break. It’s been 2 months since I released the book, time to look back and reflect a bit.

Honestly, I didn’t do nearly as much marketing as I originally intended. I’m not great at it, and it badly drains my energy. Still, I managed to make a fair amount of noise, and I’m generally pretty happy with where I am.


My biggest win by a long shot have been the reviews. My strategy here was simple: find horror book channels on Instagram, send a polite DM, and ask them if they’d like a free copy of the book. No strings attached.

Several people took me up on the offer. Most of the people were happy with a digital copy, but if they preferred paper I sent out a paperback to them. This lead to some great reviews. The book is getting a pretty solid 4 stars across the board, which feels accurate to me. I don’t think it’s 5 stars either, I still have too much to learn for that.

I’ve gotten valid criticisms about pacing, style, character choices, etc. All things I have noted and will work on. So far, nobody thought it was bad or boring. In fact, my writing got pretty consistent praise for emotional tone and vivid imagery.


I had hoped to reviews would lead to sales. But, sales have been… well, frankly, they haven’t been 😅

I’ve sold all of 2 copies in the month of October, despite being featured on Instagram by people with a big audience.

For a while, that really bugged me. Despite everything I’d read about the realities of self-publishing, my mind had still come up with this image that selling about 200 books was in the realm of possibility.

To not set my hopes to high, I told everyone I’d be celebrating if I got 50 sales, thinking that was an eminently attainable number. It definitely is attainable, but it’s going to take me a lot longer than I expected.

I read the excellent You don’t want to be Published by Peter M. Ball, and it helped me a lot. Most books are all about the “get down and hustle” mentality, and that’s just not where I am mentally. This book had a very pleasant profanity-laden to writing, which immediately connected with me.

One of the core takeaways for me was that most readers skip single-book authors, because they simply have no way to tell if it’s good or not… and life’s too short to waste it on bad books. I get that, I’m much the same. My reading time is precious, so I tend to not take big chances either unless I have a good reason.

The book recommended to focus on networking instead, until you have several books under your belt. Which brings me to my next point.


Ball has a very funny section in his book, saying how he balked at networking. It conjured the image of phony people exchanging business cards, pretending to like each other just so they can extract favours.

He then goes on to say that that picture is the exact opposite of networking. Actual networking means making genuine connections with people, helping your friends out, and that will generally cause good things to come your way.

I have to admit that I held similar opinions about networking, which is why I always considered myself to be bad at it. The way he describes it though: that’s exactly what I’ve been doing already. I’ve made some really amazing connections online, and met a lot of fellow authors who turned out to be amazing people.

Several times, just having a nice online interaction lead to me selling a book. Not because I was pushing the book at people, but because they figured I was a nice guy, so they’d check out my book.

It was good to get the reassurance that me doing what came naturally was actually the best thing to do in my situation. I’ll keep that up.

Mental Health

And well finally, my mental health. Writing a book and then sending it out into the world is rough. It’s scary, it’s vulnerable.

The biggest step I’ve made lately, is no longer thinking that I’m a hack and a fraud. Am I a literary genius? Hell no, but I am capable of writing enjoyable prose. I’m capable of plotting a story, and actually turning that into a book. So far I’ve written a novella, but I’m pretty confident I could do an actual novel too.

I had the opportunity to do a guest blog, where I wrote some erotica, and I’ve been working on short fiction again. My writing isn’t for everybody obviously, but the feedback had been consistently positive. I’m finally starting to believe I’m actually decent at this.

What’s next?

Always the big question, right? Well, for one thing I want to write more short stories and release an anthology. I also have a few ideas for longer works brewing in my head. I’ll just go where the dopamine takes me, that’s always worked best for me.

The only thing I am really debating is what to publish online, and what to hold back. On one hand, I love making my work available to everybody as much as possible. On the other hand, I’d like to submit some stories to magazines too, and they generally don’t accept reprints. So, it might be wise to hold at least a few stories back.

I will publish everything on my advance reader environment, so if you have account there you’ll be able to see all my work in progress. Right now, I’ve just give accounts to friends, but I might think about linking that to Ko-fi / Patreon. Another thing to ponder.

For now, I’m going to allow myself to just enjoy the fact that I wrote a damn book, and the people that read it think it’s fun. In the end, that’s what matters.

Curious about the book? Check my books page

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