Things I Have Learned About Self-Publishing So Far

1.  No matter how many times you and others have edited your manuscript, you need to go back and edit again.  I can’t even tell you how many mistakes I’m STILL finding!  For example, I wrote “bus” instead of “but.” 

2.  Commas are hard.

3.  Research is literally going to become your best friend.  Be prepared to spend a lot of time at the library!  Of course, as an author, you should do that anyway.

4.  It really pays to know someone who not only knows business, but also has a genuine interest in it.

5.  You are not supposed to present yourself as a “self” publisher.  You are a publisher.  Your publishing career is separate from your writing career.

6.  Trying to be a writer and a publisher and a designer and a businessperson all at the same time is really stressful.

7.  I am poor. 

8.  I think I’m about to get a lot poorer. 

9.  I now know what an International Standard Book Number is. 

10.  There are a lot of options out there for self-publishing, vanity-publishing, and print-on-demand.  I’m still not one hundred percent certain which company I’m going to use.  I think I’ve narrowed it down to two, however.  

11.  When reading through your manuscript AGAIN, make sure you don’t have anything that will make a person or a company want to sue you.  I realized that I slam a certain energy supplement (that is known to cause heart problems, by the way) quite a lot in my manuscript, so I’ll probably go back and change the name to something generic.  Better safe than served.   

12.  The whole process can get really overwhelming and intimidating, so pace yourself, set daily and weekly goals, realize that you do not have to get everything done in one day, and most importantly, have someone who loves you there to cheer you on and reassure you and, if you’re lucky, help you.  

I’m still pretty early on in my journey, but I’m still moving forward.  There have been times when I’ve begun to question if what I’m doing is worth it, but I know that I’d regret it forever if I didn’t see this through to the end.  I’ve come too far and dreamed of this for too long to stop now.  It’s a lot more work than I expected it to be, but nothing worth doing is easy.  

 

 

 

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My Purple Gorilla

One of my favorite shows on television is “Duck Dynasty.”

Before you laugh at me, let me say that I thought it was ridiculous before I started watching it.  My entire family was obsessed with it and I had no idea why.  These were a bunch of bearded weirdos running around and shooting things who just happened to have made a lot of money making duck calls.  Why would I want to watch that?

Well, after actually sitting down and watching an episode, I figured out why.  The show is not only laugh-out-loud hilarious, but warm, heartfelt, and endearing.  You can’t help but love the Robertson family, from sweet Miss Kay, the grandmother everyone wishes they had, to Jase, the smart-ass older brother with an all-play and no-work attitude, to crazy Uncle Si and his beloved tea glass.

In one episode, Si becomes determined to win a giant purple gorilla from a kids pizza place.  Willie, the ever suffering CEO and loveable butt of every joke on the entire show, insists that it’s impossible, that Si will never win that stupid gorilla, and that he’s just wasting time.  Si accepts the challenge, goes on to win 5000 tickets, and walks out of the pizza place holding his beloved gorilla.

Si explains to viewers that he set his mind to it, he visualized himself with that gorilla, and he did it.  Work hard, believe you’ve got what it takes, and there’s nothing you can’t do.

My purple gorilla is going to be the road I take to self-publishing.  I have every confidence in my ability as a writer, but as a business person?  You’re probably better off putting your faith in a giant stuffed gorilla.  Business just doesn’t work in my head.  It’s just like Calculus, taxes, and ancient Chinese.  I look at it… and it just looks like strange marks on a piece of paper.

It’s not uncommon for the right-brained creative person to completely suck at something as left-brained as the fine-workings of business.  In fact, I think it’s pretty much the norm.  The idea of business-type stuff makes my head spin.  It forms a pile of confusing clutter in my already messy brain.

However, this is not the first time I’ve felt this way.  The first time I ever felt that sense of, “Oh my God, I’m so dumb and I’ll never get anything done and I’m going to fail and then I’ll be a loser forever,” was last year, during my final semester of graduate school.  I was in a class that focused on the objectivity and subjectivity of documentaries.  I signed up for the class thinking I’d get to watch a lot of documentaries and learn a lot of cool new stuff.  Nope.  This class was boring as all hell.  We were assigned to read the most useless of all academic articles (which are pretty useless to begin with, in my humble opinion – seriously, if you want someone to learn and appreciate what you’re writing, you have to make it interesting, but that’s a whole other blog post), and to top it all off, the documentaries we watched were about as awesome as a dried piece of fruit.

At the end of the class, we were supposed to come up with an original argument about the meanings and implications and is-it-subjective-or-objective and a lot of other stuff that just made me feel really dumb (graduate school will do that to you) and write a 15-20 page paper on it.  Now, I am the master of writing papers.  I can BS with the best of them.

May I just say, I thought that final paper was going to be the end of my grad school career.  I have never felt so intimidated in my life.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending.  I got an A on my paper, got my Masters, and lived happily ever after.  In the end, the assignment and the paper turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.  Yeah, it was long and a huge pain in the butt, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

My biggest problem, I realized, was my own mental block.  It’s kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you allow yourself to believe your goals are impossible and that you can’t handle it, you’re going to stress yourself out and, if you’re anything like me, end up eating a lot of self-pity popcorn.  But if you tell yourself, “You know what?  You can handle it.  Yeah, it’s going to be challenging and it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but you are perfectly capable of doing it.  You’ve already proven that.”

It’s just like Si and his purple gorilla.  Of course, if Willie had his way, Si would be putting that kind of effort into being productive at work.

But then, he wouldn’t be Si.

Deadline

After countless hours of researching and reading publishing options, I have discovered a few things, mostly about myself and how I work as an author.

1) As a writer, I want to work with people who are passionate about what they do, and who do things on a personal level. 

2) To be successful as a writer, you need more than a good manuscript.  You also need to have a good mind for business and marketing.  Sadly, I do not have that.  Fortunately, I know people who do and who are willing to help me. 

Okay, so that’s two things.  But I do think they are key things to keep in mind as I continue trying to figure out my path.

One of the things that has been bugging me a lot recently is time.  How much time should I give myself to prepare and to decide what I need to do?  Today, I finally gave myself a deadline.  June 15.  Until that date, I will be working to make sure everything is set and ready with my manuscript, I will continue on with my research, and I will try to get all of my affairs in order. 

This is a big step, and it’s one for which I’ve been waiting a very long time.  That being said, I don’t want to rush anything.  That’s why, instead of running out and publishing my book tomorrow, I am taking this next month to make sure I have chosen the best possible venue for my manuscript.

In Defense of Self-Publishing

I’ve spent the last few weeks doing a heck of a lot of research on different publishers, agents, and self-publishing venues.  I have a few different companies in mind and I am still in the process of trying to figure out if I want to go ahead and keep pursuing traditional publishing or, if I want to take matters into my own hands, and take a chance with self-publishing.  From what I can gather, there is no such thing as the perfect way to publish.  There are pros and cons to every venue.  I guess the thing every aspiring author needs to figure out is which pros will be the most beneficial to their particular circumstance, because no two are alike, and which cons they are most capable of handling.

From what I’m seeing, even working with a traditional publisher does not guarantee success.  Unless you’re JK Rowling, you’re going to have to work your tail off to promote your book, market, figure out the target audience, etc… This is where the real work begins.  Writing that 78,000 word manuscript was a piece of cake compared to these next few steps.   Whether or not your book is a success depends 100% how much work you put into it after the book is published.

All that being said, I believe there are a lot of benefits to both traditional and self-publishing.  But for some reason, self-publishing is still perceived as sub-par by several.  For example, I read that libraries will not consider purchasing a book unless it has been published by a “real publisher.”  It’s true that through self-publishing, literally anybody can get published, but that doesn’t mean that their books are any less impressive or significant or worth-reading.  It means that they believed in their work enough to take a chance when nobody else would, and that takes guts.

I have a friend who self-published his first book.  This guy is smart.  He was Valedictorian of his class and is about to graduate with his Law doctorate.  He did not have to write a book, or sell it, to be successful.  But he did, and he did it through self-publishing.  Another lady who commented on one of the articles that I read was so excited that she was able to publish her book herself.  It was her dream, she said, to see something she wrote in print.  Thanks to self-publishing, her dream came true.

I think a lot of people think that authors go with self-publishing because they think it will make them a lot of money or make them famous.  I hope that’s not the case.  A real writer doesn’t write because he or she wants to get rich or get famous or have movies made of their manuscripts (though I would be lying if I said I didn’t mentally cast my books in my head).  We write because we love to write, because we literally can’t function without it.  I’d love to support myself with my writing, but even if that doesn’t happen, I’m not going to stop.  That’s why I’m thankful for self-publishing.  It gives writers, people who do what they do for the sheer love of doing it, a chance to do what we love.  Better yet, it gives us that opportunity to make something for ourselves, even if the rest of the world is insisting that it’s a waste of time or impossible or that we’re not good enough.

So to anyone who has self-published, I admire you for taking a chance on your dreams.  I might very well be right behind you!

Thankful

I know it’s late, so I’ll keep this short.  I just need to express how genuinely lucky and thankful I am to have friends and family members who fully supports my goals and ambitions.  My parents, my sister, my best friends, my teachers, my choir director, and even perfect strangers all offer me support and encouragement every single day.  I strive each and every day to make them proud of me, especially my parents, who believe in me – often times a lot more than I believe in myself. So thank you.  

God Bless.