First Year, Seventh Book

Well, it's almost over–my first year as a published author. During that year I wrote and published six books and wrote a seventh, now undergoing final reads and edits. Here is what has happened to me this first year out.

I have sold 30,000 books and given away 170,000 books. That's right, I discovered Bookbub about halfway into my first year and made submissions. Of my book, The Defendants. It was offered for free and it had right at 50,000 downloads in two days. Three more freebie Bookbubs followed. All told, 170,000 books downloaded. Results: 30,000 sales, probably directly attributable to the giveaways.

At least I think. To be very honest, I don't know how it happened. Here's some history.

I have been writing for publication since 1967 when I wrote my first novel. I published in 2014. That's quite a dry spell, you might say. Some might be inclined to quit. But after serial rejections in the hundreds, I kept writing. Because writing is like my therapy. It's the one place where I can be my best self. My books say who I am. My collection of short stories say who I am. They tell anyone who wishes to know, how I think, how I speak, how my mind works–all of that. But most important, my books tell stories. That's right. I see myself wholly as an entertainer. If this writing of mine is art then I missed that part of the definition when I took humanities in college. We were taught that art is found mostly in France, Italy, and Greece, and we were taught that art might very well take up years of lying on your back and painting ceilings. Doesn't even come close to my experience with my seven books.

See, I first published in 2014 when I was 72 years old. That's right. During that same year I had cataract surgery on both eyes and had back surgery (spinal ablation) when the osteoarthritis got so bad I couldn't stand upright without spasms. So I did the next best thing: I sat. I retired from my law practice and I sat. I got bored, so I bought a Macbook. The heavens parted: I love that computer. So one night I wrote my first sentence of my first novel. And then my life came gushing out in these 500,000 words. More and more, as if it was feeding on itself, the stories refused to stop coming out.

So, I did what a blind invalid should do: I wrote them down. And put them on Amazon. And people bought them.

Today I sell around 150 books a day. That's after one year. Now I can see again 20/20, and I can stand up again. But I'm still sitting with the little laptop propped on my lap in my dilapidated chair that my wife explains is the root cause of both back and vision problems. Somehow…they're connected, the health problems and the chair, as only a spouse can make those connections for you. Anyway, that's a whole other book, one I doubt I'll write.

My main character is a young lawyer named Thaddeus Murfee. Much of what happens to him actually happened to me while I was practicing law. Equally true, much of what happens to him did not happen to me, thank heavens. Thaddeus has several more careers coming at him down the road. Stay tuned.

Year two looks like it will be lively.

  • January 13, 2015
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 14 comments
William McCarey - June 15, 2016

Mr Ellsworth, you have a fantastic writing style. I have read five of your seven books (can't figure out what number 6 was yet) and I could not put them down once I started. Your character development is excellent, your dialog very believable, and your plot lines zig and zag to keep the reader interested. Your words flow smoothly. And your books don't have downtime for what I call filler chapters that go nowhere except to fluff out page content.

Now I did zing you for not knowing the difference between the gauge of a shotgun and the caliber of a rifle. And I also zinged you in my Amazon reviews for referring to my favorite singer Janis Joplin as Janet.

I forgive you and hope you continue to write until you are very, very old. I am 68 and looking to reading yor books for about forty more years!

admin - June 15, 2016

Thanks everyone and blessings to you. Let's all keep writing and we'll meet up in a couple of weeks for coffee, somewhere fun, like….

John Brown - June 15, 2016

Awesome, awesome, awesome. I love this post, although I'm envious of your seven books! I need to get cracking 🙂

Normandie Fischer - June 15, 2016

Since I first commented, I have read your sample chapter. May I just say that your huge success may actually have a great deal to do with your craft? You have obviously honed your skill in those years of waiting. I read the chapter aloud to my husband.

Whoa, he said when I stopped on page six. Whoa, I say. And I repeat: Bravo.

Normandie Fischer - June 15, 2016

Bravo. I began a little later than you (because I was busy with the other art thing: sculpture) but I came around to the writing, waiting, writing, waiting, trying, writing, waiting, finding two publishers, leaving two agents, waiting, writing…and now I'm about to take the indie plunge. Woohoo to us older folk!

Ekta R. Garg - June 15, 2016

Congratulations on the excellent sales and more importantly on your recovered health! You've inspired me; I'm about to publish my first book in a few weeks, and just today I had a mild panic attack about the entire process. But after reading your post I realized this: if you can go through all of this and still succeed as an author, then surely I don't have a right to complain about my comparatively minimal challenges.

Thank you for your post!

Char Bishop - June 15, 2016

Your passion and energy leaped out from the screen. I am also beginning to publish somewhat late in life. We have an advantage over youth, my friend–years and years of life to draw from. Though I've written all my life, I just uploaded my first self-published book. Thank you for sharing your experience–it's expiring!

Scott Clemens - June 15, 2016

This is such an inspiration! I'm a little younger (65). I wrote my first novel in 1972, my second in 1991, my third from 2008 to 2011, and I'm just about to finish my fourth (2011 to 2015). I, too, have hundreds of rejection slips. All I've ever wanted is about 30,000 readers who are willing pay me a dollar year to write the books I feel compelled to put to paper (or the digital realm). I'm incredibly impressed that you could write 7 books in a year. I'm hoping to put out a book a year from here on out, but I'm not convinced I can do it. Your success is encouraging. Many thanks.

David Lawrence - June 15, 2016

Fantastic! Congratulations. I signed up and look forward to reading one of your books.

Greg (G.P.) Field - June 15, 2016

Good on you John,
You are an inspiration to those of us equally addicted to the therapy of writing. Keep it up mate 🙂

Bea - June 15, 2016

Thanks for sharing your story. I found it inspiring and I'm glad you just kept on writing and putting your work out there. I appreciate that success came to you in your mature years. I'm there too, and was wondering if it was too late for me. So extra thanks for the timeliness of this inspirational story.

Jude - June 15, 2016

You're my hero. I also began writing many years ago, and now I'm published on Amazon and elsewhere. Six books a year is my goal, but darned, I'm still working a day job.
Great story!

Michael Parnell - June 15, 2016

Congratulations, John! I have seen your posts on Kboards, and even commented on how much I love your book covers. Thanks for this inspiring post, and good luck with the upcoming books!

Robin Brande - June 15, 2016

Love this. Congratulations, John, from one former lawyer turned writer to another! Writing is much more fun, I think we can all agree. 🙂

Very happy for all your success!


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