Hi everyone, I’m Tracey Alley and I’ve just finally completed my first fantasy series, a trilogy called ‘TheWitchcraft Wars’. It wasn’t the first novel I’d ever written, not by a long shot actually, but it was the first that I truly felt was publishable. I’d had a pretty long road to publication with many mixed messages from potential publishers and agents. It seemed a lot of people liked my work but…. there was always a but and I couldn’t figure out how to find a way around that.
Then I heard about Independent publishing through Amazon and it felt right to me. I knew I had a good product, I’d received great feedback and a lot of really good critiques to make it even better. Still it was nerve wracking. I’d been offered a few contracts with smaller publishing houses but I always felt they were so constraining that I kept saying no and now I was about to go Indie I was wondering if I was doing the right thing.
In many ways the timing seemed right. Not only did I have a good product but the two badly herniated discs in my lower back had degenerated to such a degree that walking or sitting for long periods was now impossible and I was forced to take a disability pension. I’d completely finished the first book, was about two thirds of the way through the second book and now I had endless amounts of time on my hands. So I pushed the button and I’ve never looked back.
Suddenly my books were out there and they were selling. It was true there had been no huge advance or massive publicity push but they were selling, not flying off the shelves but quietly and slowly building a momentum and even better than that, people were liking them. I got direct emails from ‘fans’ who read the books and loved them, I read comments and reviews from people who also enjoyed them. I even got a couple of stinker reviews which made me feel like a real life writer. Suddenly this was what I was doing for a living, not stuck behind a desk, in an uncomfortable chair doing company accounts or working for the Tax Office. It was a very nice feeling, it still is.
I was riding so high I thought I’d never come down but… there’s always a but. Then I realised how much work I had to put in, myself, to get my book out there and noticed. I’ve never been good at sales or marketing and I stumbled around in the dark for a long time before I finally made some wonderful online friends, also writers, who helped me along the way. I still won’t profess to be the greatest at sales and marketing, it’s not something that comes easy to me but I’m working at it and as I work harder at it I see an increase in sales.
Of course now that I’ve finished the trilogy, Erich’s Plea, Ursula’s Quest and Slade’s Destiny are all out there for public consumption, along with a couple of short stories and an anthology of poetry, but the question then was – where to from here? Did I have another good story in me? Could I write another book? About halfway through writing Slade’s Destiny, which was a chore of and by itself due to some major health problems, I suddenly had the seed of an idea. That began to grow, I had characters, a basic storyline and a rough idea of how I wanted to book to evolve. The relief was unbelievable – I wasn’t going to be a one hit wonder, I did have more inside me than one good story.
So now I’m busily working away on my next project, while a third is already clamouring for attention in my brain and I realised if you really are a writer then you will always find stories to tell. All my life I’d never wanted to be anything but a writer and now I was living the dream. Sometimes I still pinch myself a little to make sure it’s all still real. I also realised something else about writing – it’s like any craft, the more you do it, the more you work at it and provided you always stay open to hard and honest criticism, the better you get.
I saw that clearly with the Witchcraft trilogy, each new book was better than the last and my current WIP is better than anything I’ve ever written before and I’m only on the first draft. I can’t speak for every writer, obviously, but for me this has been the most incredible journey I’ve ever taken. Yes, it’s hard in some ways because by putting yourself out there you become vulnerable. It’s a little bit like falling in love, you enjoy the rush and the immediate excitement of something new but it takes long term dedication and a strong, solid foundation to make it work long time. And just like being in love the relationship gets better with time, so does the writing.
It took me a very long time and a lot of very bad writing to get to the point of releasing Erich’s Plea, which now boasts several 4 and 5 star reviews. So if you’re out there and you’re thinking about it my advice is keep going, keep writing, keep improving but never forget that it takes time, patience, dedication and you have to be humble enough to hear that your work isn’t yet up to par. If you have the talent and the drive and the humility then you will get there.