It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s already been three years since my foray into self publishing. It seems like only yesterday.
I’ve written a lot about my thoughts on it in the months after, but now that I’ve put a good deal of distance behind me and now that I’m working once more on this current work-in-progress, I have some thoughts that I figured I would share with those of you who are new to this blog, and potentially new to self publishing.
- Self publishing was probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve done, professionally speaking. Not only because it was the first time I was really putting my work out there to be seen and judged which is admittedly terrifying, but because it was literally all on me. Self publishing may be a team effort, but at the end of the day it’s your name on that book, and when you don’t have a publisher behind you any and all blame for a book that doesn’t do as well as you’d hoped or doesn’t look professional falls squarely on you. There’s almost no way to prepare for this, because in reality, knowing that everything is on your shoulders, is not the same as experiencing it. This was made glaringly clear to me when I caught sight of a several chapter title errors after I had already printed thirty plus copies of the book to sell.
- Have a plan of action, and know what you’re getting yourself into. Self publishing is a business. You need to have a strategy for what’s going to set you apart from other authors. One of the biggest challenges in today’s market is that, with next to no overhead needed, anybody can publish a book. Anybody can put together a cover and have it professionally printed, indistinguishable from any other book on the shelf. Which makes it imperative that you stand out somehow and that more importantly you have a marketing plan. Part of my problem was that I was excited and nervous and I really didn’t think things all the way through. I thought I had at the time of course. I guest posted on other blogs, I blogged about it, tweeted about my book, and even held a contest, so I definitely felt that I tried, but it was tricky to balance writing and publishing. Which brings me to…
- Publishing is a balancing act. Self published, traditionally published, the nature of the beast dictates that you be able to balance the world of doing your own publicity and actually getting the next book out there because at the end of the day you’re still only as good as your last book, so you need to make sure you’re continuously putting out material. As I learned with the sequel to my first self published book, which was far more successful than the first.
Self publishing is a completely different beast now, then even three years ago. In order to be a successful author you have to be versatile and be able to change with the times. It also requires you to take what you’re doing seriously, get all the facts, do your homework, and put your best foot forward. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll be successful. At the end of the day, failure can still happen, that’s a part of life. But there’s something to be said about putting your work into the world and giving it a life of it’s own. It’s probably one of the most terrifying, invigorating sensations you could imagine, but there’s nothing better than hearing from a fan that they loved your work.