This weekend marks the moment, a year ago that I started my self-publishing journey. I never meant to be a self-published author but it was a progression born out of necessity. After Pear Jam Books closed and I, like so many of the other authors, was left in limbo, I knew that the only way to pursue my goals and achieve my dreams was to do it myself.
So what have I learnt in a year?
I can’t do it all
While the world had opened up in terms of being able to publish your books in all kinds of forms and in all kinds of places, it doesn’t mean that you should do everything everywhere. For a start, trying to keep a track of what is where and at what stage it is at is daunting. I cover the bases by publishing ebooks with KDP and Smashwords and print books with Createspace. I don’t chop and change, neither do I try to upload direct to Kobo or iBooks which I know can be done. Audiobooks are gaining ground as are books with sound tracks and I may do these one day but at the moment there’s enough to be getting on with.
I can’t do it all
You will need help with something, you cannot do it all yourself – the least you will need is a cover designer and a copy editor. A beta reader is also a help, to cast a discerning eye over your words, as is a support network of other indie authors who share your triumphs, disasters, problems and solutions. What has come out strongly with this new publishing world is how indie authors help other indie authors, creating a community that makes the whole indie industry strong. I value my network of fellow indie authors.
Money is not the prize
One day I would like to make enough money from my books to be able to write full time…one day. That day is not going to be any time soon, if at all, but I can dream. What has become more valuable to me these days is the words, “I really enjoyed your book” or even better, “I couldn’t put it down” (this from a 12 year old girl whose mother was struggling to get her to read). One day these words will convert into full time income but for the moment it is the empire building on which I need to concentrate.
It’s hard work
I work full time as well as write so working on a book, or preparing it for publication has to done at the times that I am not working which is usually at the evening or the weekend. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) I live on my own which means that if I want to delay dinner in order to get something done, I can. However, it still involves sacrifice, giving up a relaxing evening of mindless TV in order to bash out a chapter or two, or get the formatting done on a manuscript in order to upload to Smashwords, or suggesting changes to a cover design. We all have things that get in the way of our writing but we can get around these by giving something up. And yes, whatever it is, it will be hard to do so. No one said it would be easy.
I’m excited by what’s ahead
It is being said that right now there is no better time to be a writer. For many years the big publishers have been the gatekeepers for authors, the guards that stand in the way of getting a book from an author to a reader. That barrier is being removed. Now authors can connect directly with their readers and vice versa. It’s a scary brand-new world. More and more it is the reader who is deciding what is good and what is bad. There has been criticism that now the floodgates will open for all the bad writing that is out there and while this may be true, who are we to deny an artist a means to display their art to the world. We’ve done this for eons by displaying dubious artworks and declaring it ‘art’ and the masses accept it because it is viewed as a right of expression. Now we view with distain the same process for written works, but who are we to judge? Good art will always endure and it is also true to say that even the most marginal art form will have an audience.
Go out and find yours!