Saturday, March 17, 2012

My not-so-secret identity

So, Virginia Jewel is not my real name. I think I've mentioned that before on this blog. I chose it because I wanted to take the risk of putting a piece of work out there without taking too much of a risk on a personal level. I am a teacher, something that I know I've mentioned on here before as well as on my twitter feed. As a teacher, everything that I do in and out of the classroom is scrutinized and judged. Being a romance novelist in my spare time may not be what some parents think is the best way for their child's teacher to spend her free time. While it is true that my books are not graphic and completely harmless, you just never know when someone might object to something. I'm telling you all of this because I've walked around in a bubble of anonymity for a long time, but unfortunately, that bubble has been burst.

When I did my first free book giveaway, I was so amazed by the results that I shared my secret with some of the people I work with. I wasn't worried because I trusted them and knew that they would be honest if they read my work. Because these people were either proud of my accomplishments or just trying to be helpful, word has started to spread around my work environment about my secret hobby. People that I never would have spoken to about my books are now reading them and stopping me in the halls to talk to me about them. Others who may not have a Kindle are searching for other avenues to access my books. All this is hard for me because I really have no desire to be the face of Virginia Jewel. I write because I enjoy it. I write because I like to read good stories so I try hard to write good stories for other readers.

Therefore, my secret identity has become the worst kept secret in town!

Now my problem is this:

Where do I go from here?

I chose a pen name for a reason. I wanted to stay behind the curtain. I didn't want my reality to mix with the crazy reality of being a self-published author. As long as most people didn't know who Virginia Jewel was, I could come home from a long day of work and escape into the world of my writing. As Virginia Jewel, I feel free to blog, post to Facebook, and tweet without worry of risking my reputation as a teacher. Again, it's not as if I am doing anything unsavory when I write as Virginia Jewel, but it's just the principle of the matter.

All that being said, I realize that I am not Clark Kent/Superman! My books aren't topping the NY Times Bestseller lists or anything amazing like that (though I certainly would be happy if that did happen!). My success is limited. My latest three-day free book giveaway topped 8,000 downloads between the US and Europe. That amount of exposure is not likely to land me on the cover of any newspapers or magazines. I recognize that. However, as Virginia Jewel, I'm much more exposed than I am as my real self. With this blog, my Facebook account, my twitter account, and my author account, I am more Virginia Jewel than me!

Why does this whole thing bother me, you ask. It's not because I'm embarrassed about my work or what I've written about. I haven't used real people to create my characters and now I'm afraid that they'll read it and find out. It's nothing like either of those things. My issue is simply this...I like being anonymous. I've always liked being the quiet one who sits in the corner. I'm a wallflower.

Unfortunately, Virginia Jewel is not.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Free book giveaway with the one that started it all...

It's hard for me to believe that it's only been 3 months since I started this crazy KDP Select journey! It was in December that I signed up for the program and selected 'Nuptials for Sale' as my first venture in the free book giveaway. Not knowing how it would all turn out, I decided to use up all 5 days for the promotion. 10,000 downloads later and my life was changed forever!

I know that 10,000 is not a huge number to a lot of people, but to me it's HUGE. Up to that point, I was excited if my overall monthly sales reached double digits. Since that first free promotion I've been blessed to see all my sales rise, I've been able to branch out and network with other authors and some of my readers, and I've received numerous reviews (even that bad one, which I've almost completely forgotten about). Yes, that free promotion made quite an impact on me and my career as a writer. Therefore, to celebrate the three-month anniversary of that promotion and how far I've come since then, I'm giving 'Nuptials for Sale' away for free again.

Mark your calendars and tell your friends, because March 14-16 'Nuptials for Sale' will be free for download to all Kindle readers!