I read about people who aim to traditionally publish, about their stresses over query letters, agents, and the endless stream of submissions. I don’t worry about those things. I knew, before penning the first word of my book, that I wanted to go the self published route. No, I don’t worry about those classic concerns. I have a whole different set of stresses, a different source of emotional ups and downs.
I picked a team early on, and as such I feel—despite having no book available yet—a kind of loyalty to my chosen means of publication. I’d read Hugh Howey take on Sue Grafton, or see this great article in Forbes and do figurative (ok, literal) fist pumps.
You read enough about the successes, and suddenly that childhood dream of being a real, full-time author becomes tantalizingly possible. I’m not talking about Amanda Hocking level success—I have no such delusions. I’m not writing in a super popular genre. No, the success I aspire to is more along the lines of what Lindsay Buroker describes. To be able to quit my day job and develop a group of loyal readers would be more than enough for me.
So what do I do? I write, of course. But when I’m not writing I do what I dub “research,” but is probably more like internet stalking. I scan the Kindle store every single day, looking for the indie books that are doing well, hoping to glean some kind of greater understanding, discover the magic bullet. I read self-pubbed author’s blogs obsessively, filing away mental notes.
And while doing all of this “research,” I also stumble across gems like “I’m a Self Publishing Failure” and this notoriously depressing (and, I think, utterly inaccurate) report on self published earnings. And, sometimes, I experience a kind of vicarious dejection. It’s the monkey-mind—the, you’re going to fail. Why even bother?
But I bounce back. I stumble across another great indie author who’s doing well. I complete an edit of my manuscript and start feeling good about my story. I move forward. I try to enact the tips I have so industriously collected.
The great truth I’ve realized during my research—and, yes, it’s pretty obvious—is the importance of social media. For some reason I held off on this, thinking that I needed to have a product before I could try to sell it. I also have an illogical fear that I lack the prescribed personality for social media. Online, I tend to feel like the socially inept person at the party, standing in the corner, not sure how to join the fun (ok, ok, sometimes I’m that person at actual parties, too.).
Finally, I had the proverbial “duh” moment. I realized that the sooner I start building a presence on the internet, the better. So I created a Twitter, a Facebook, and this website. I felt all motivated and productive. Yay me. Only, seeing the sea of indie writers on Twitter, all promoting their books in a way that reads a bit like screaming into the darkness, is itself a bit of a cold shower. I see the forum posts by indies who say they’ve done all the usual marketing and have sold hardly any books. The emotional roller coaster descends. Woosh.
I’m steadily approaching the finish line for my first novel. I’ve got one more pass to do, and then I’m sending it off to an editor. You’d think that this looming deadline would heighten my anxiety. But it hasn’t. Recently, I’ve found the emotional roller coaster has begun to subside. I’ve written a book that I’m proud of. I love my story and I’ve gotten good feedback.
I’ve done everything that I can do. If this book isn’t a hit, well there’s always book two. And three. And whatever else I write. There is something liberating in this realization, in knowing that “failure” isn’t really a possibility. I’ll keep doing what I love, and with any luck I’ll accumulate readers along the way.
So, while I will still likely read blogs and interesting articles on self publishing, I hereby promise to end my obsessive behavior. Just think how much more writing I’ll get done!Priscilla Du Preez