Self publishing, what a mystery this is to readers in the "independent world".
Well, I've been wanting to write about this for quite some time now but keep putting it off. Every time I read something about how "grand" it is though, depending on the day, I either smile or roll my eyes at the statement.
I'll give you a bit about myself before I continue, I am the daughter of a writer so I like to think it's "in my blood". As the oldest of six "father-less" children, my father had to drop out of school when he was seven years old because he had to work to help feed his siblings. He taught himself how to read, taught himself how to write, and what an amazing gift he gave himself and those around him by doing so because he wrote beautifully. My father was never published, he didn't write full length novels. He wrote for himself, he wrote for politics (he was a politician). Now, fast forward all the struggles my parents went through, to me. I've always loved to write. I've written poems, dumb little stories, children's books, porn (nah, that's a joke LOL). Basically, I just write whatever speaks to me and thankfully a lot of things speak to me.
I grew up in a world where if you were a writer, you were "starving". Because that's how we've always seen it, writing is an art, it's something you do out of love, out of necessity because your mental health depends on it, not for money. In fact, most writers will laugh at you if you tell them you're writing for money. I've laughed at that numerous times.
Okay, I can see I'm boring you, so I'll move on. I wrote this full length novel a couple of years ago, now known as "the love triangle that shall never be published". I can't even read it, so I wouldn't put it out there not even under a pen name. I just CAN'T. Sometimes I do that, I write things that I won't share. It's a 120,000 word novel with love, angst, sex. Can I sell it? Probably. Will I? Not for all the tea in China.
Bottom line is, if I don't love a story enough, if I don't feel it's "worth sharing", I will not share it. I'm not that girl. So it surprises me that so many people are willing to share so many stories. I'm not against it, not at all. I think if you truly want to put your heart, blood, tears, and fears on paper, pay to get it edited, pay for a cover photo, and put it out there where the world can (and will) completely bash it-then hey, go for it. I just think there are a couple of things you need to know.
1. It is not easy. Nothing is.
2. It is not cheap. You know that scrapbooking hobby you used to have and gave up because "damn, that's an expensive hobby?" Triple it. Quadruple it, even.
3. You will not be best friends with "big name authors" just because you are now out there. And you know what? That "big name author" you thought was so nice and so cool when you messaged them about their book? They may be a douche to you when you do so about your writing. I want to take a second to expand on this one because I feel it needs to be talked about. IF this happens to you, it's not because that author "hates you or hates indies or hates the fact that everybody all of a sudden wants to be a writer" (even though, this may be the case, but I can't speak for them). This person may be busy, they may have taken the time to respond to you when you were praising their writing, but not the time to respond to you about "What cover artist should I use? what do I need to do to market myself?" because...that person...wait for it..may just be trying to figure out the same exact things.
4. There is NO formula. NONE. I really wanted to say, "The only for sure formula is to write a good book" BUT guess what? Bullshit. It's not true. There are some great authors out there that have written good books and still go unnoticed. On the same note, there are a lot of shitty books that get noticed. So what does that mean? No formula. You write, you share, you hope. Expect nothing. If you're expecting something, you might as well not publish because I can tell you right now, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.
5. If you're doing it for you, then by all means do it and pat yourself on the back for being brave enough to.
6. Covers matter. Period. Spend the money. And while we're on this topic, I'm all for the "naked covers" on my kindle, but I wouldn't be caught dead carrying one around a bookstore. These are things you should probably think about (I mean, I do!).
7. Editing. Matters. A lot.
8. If you're invited to another author's "street team group", don't go in there and post about your own books or author pages. It's tacky. You want a fan base, they have one, I get it, but That. Is. Tacky.
9. This is one that I've spoken to other authors about: People posting/messaging you to "pimp their page" on yours. Again, I understand that everybody wants to get themselves out there. I understand it's difficult to do so. I'm guilty of posting about other author's things on my author page. I do this all of the time. But guess what? The authors I post about are either my friends or books I've read and loved. I don't post random books or people that I've never heard of. You know who does that? Bloggers. Bloggers spread the word about books and authors they love. I am not a blogger. I do not read everybody and their mother's book, but when I do stumble across a book that I love and want to share, I share it. I think most authors do this and it's mistaken with "I want to share every single person who is or will publish a book". No. We share who we want to share, you asking us to share yours will most likely get an eye roll. I've NEVER asked a fellow author OR blogger to share my stuff. NEVER. I would never. I write, that's all I do. I write for me and pray readers like it enough to spread the word. That's it.
Bottom line, this may be an "in the moment thing" for some, but for others this is a lifetime thing. This is something we would be doing with or without self-publishing.