Happy Birthday, Strangers and Pilgrims!
As May ticked over into June, I realised that this month marks three years since I launched Strangers and Pilgrims as a Kindle book. Prior to that it had been available as a paperback for around a year or so, selling a few copies but generally just sitting there. I’d had people ask was I going to put it out as an e-book and I’d said yes, yes, of course and had done nothing. Circumstances at the time meant I didn’t do so until a shift occurred that caused me much hurt, upset and grief, and as a way of reassuring myself of my worth as a writer, I set to and launched Strangers and Pilgrims again, as an e-book.
When it was first launched, I know I was far from ready to publish. The book was, but I wasn’t. It’s hard to explain why without raking up past pain, but it wasn’t until June three years ago that I was able to face making a book available to the Kindle market which barely existed when I wrote the book. There’s something tender and vulnerable about releasing a book and Strangers & Pilgrims is dear to me. As I explained in my post about revisiting it after a long period unable to even look at it, it’s a book that touches people. The majority have loved it. It’s been sharing page space with some very famous books and very illustrious authors in the various Kindle charts for such genres as metaphysical and visionary fiction, as well as in personal transformation. In a small way it seems to have become a kind of a classic.
In the first year it was out on Kindle, it sold steadily and it continues to sell, though not in the numbers is did a year or two back. When I’d first launched it, as a paperback, there had been naïve talk about it somehow going viral and becoming a worldwide success. Naive on my side, I think; perhaps a bit more delusional on the part of the other person. I don’t know. I’m a realist. I’ve always felt that the chances of any book becoming one of those unstoppable hits are very small indeed, but like with the Lottery, at least buy a ticket! Putting Strangers and Pilgrims onto Kindle was like buying a ticket. There’s still a chance of it becoming that international best-selling sensation, but you know, the fact that it’s been read by a few thousand people (perhaps three thousand or so; I’ve stopped counting obsessively now) is a HUGE thing for me. It’s not a beach read or a blockbuster thriller and the fact that it’s reached that many people is amazing to me. Literary-ish fiction is horribly hard to sell independently; the folks who like literary fiction tend not to be Kindle users and are those who love books made of paper rather than pixels.
I’ve been asked numerous times if there will be a sequel and for a long while I toyed with it. I let the idea go, after writing a few chapters. Nothing seemed to shine; ideas flared briefly like a match struck in a dark cave before dying back into darkness. Then, a few weeks ago, a scene came to me that I had to write and I wrote it. I think that the long term effects of my late and unlamented parathyroid tumour meant that ideas just fizzled and died, and I lacked the necessary mental agility needed to link ideas and characters and plots. Now I am recovering (other stuff going on but…) I hope that the mental progress I’ve seen will continue and books will get finished. The sequel is about ten thousand words down so far. I have no idea when (or even if) I will finish it, but for those who felt the ending of Strangers & Pilgrims was a tiny bit too neat, there were threads left hanging that mean some things will be coming unravelled. (No spoilers here).
Anyway, three years old (we won’t count the first, damaged birth) and still touching lives, here’s to Strangers and Pilgrims and many thanks to everyone who has read and loved the book.
(If you have read and enjoyed the book, but haven’t left a review, I’d be extremely grateful if you would consider doing so. Reviews seem to generate interest and activity.)
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