It’s late and I’m sleepy, but I’ve been wanting to write this blog post all day and somehow, time has been evading me. So I figure there’s no time like the present.
Now that I’m over my mild business panic the other night, I’ve been thinking about everything I didn’t think I’d ever have to know and how glad I am that I’ve been constantly learning throughout this whole experience.
That’s actually something that Josh Groban said to the audience when my sister and I went to see him in concert (yes, he actually DOES sound better live than recorded). Someone asked him if he had any advice for anyone going into the performing arts. His answer applied not only to those going into the arts, but to anyone who has ever hoped to accomplish anything. “Never stop learning. Stay a student for as long as you can.” He was right. You’ve got to stay open to learning new things, otherwise you’ll never move forward.
I know I’ve done several of these little “What I’ve learned about self publishing so far” entries, but I enjoy them and I think (or at least hope) that they’re at least a little helpful and encouraging. So, here you go.
1) Don’t procrastinate. I’ve been a procrastinator my entire life. My thought process was, “Well, if I write this term paper early and then I die before I get to turn it in, then I’ll have wasted my last days on Earth writing a paper.” I ALWAYS waited until the last minute to do any sort of assignment. Bad, I know. But I still got them done. In some instances it actually paid off. For example, in one of my classes, we were supposed to read this godawful, boring book and then write a paper on it. The week before the paper was due, I still hadn’t even bought the book. Later that day, however, our teacher announced that the paper was cancelled. I saved myself about fifteen dollars that day. With publishing, however, it’s different. Procrastinating is bad. No matter where you are in the process or what you’re doing, everything will take about five times longer than you think it will.
2) Don’t get complacent. I’ve been through high school, college, and grad school, and let me tell you, the senioritis only gets worse the older you get. With publishing, like with anything to which you devote a lot of time and effort, it’s easy to get bored, to get tired of your project, to think, “Okay, I’m just gonna half-ass it and be done with it.” No. Don’t do that. This project should be treated like it’s the only thing in your life. You can sure as heck bet that big time publishers make sure their books and projects are PERFECT. As an independent publisher, you should aim for no less. In fact, you should aim for more, since, unlike big time publishers, this book actually means something more to you than a paycheck.
3) Be flexible. It’s good to set deadlines for yourself and it’s good to stay on task, but things aren’t always going to happen when and how you want them to happen. If you want to succeed, you need to be able to work under any circumstances.
4) Get things done. Finish what you start. I’m pretty sure the reason that most would-be writers don’t succeed in their publication endeavors is because they give up. They decide it’s not worth it or it’s going to be too hard or it will never happen, it’s just a pipe dream. If you don’t even try, then of course you’re not going to succeed. But if you take a chance and give it all you’ve got, then who knows? See this through to the very end. You’ll be one of the rare few who does.
5) Don’t get discouraged. There will always, ALWAYS be naysayers. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had this conversation:
“So, what are your plans? What do you want to do with your life?”
“I’m writing a book. I’d like to be an author.”
“No, I mean what do you want to do? Like for a real career?”
I’ve been told over and over and over again that I’ll never get anywhere writing, that I need to get a “real job,” that I’ll never be able to support myself, that I’d be much happier if I just gave up and accepted that this is the way life is. It is so easy to get discouraged when that it all you hear. It got to the point that, when people would ask me what I wanted to do, I’d lie and say, “I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out.”
Well guess what? Now that I’m actually publishing my book, going through with my plans, I’ve gotten nothing but “Congratulations,” “I’m so proud of you,” and “I can’t wait to read it!” The best way to handle naysayers is to prove them wrong!
For a long while, I had several back-up plans for what I was going to do if the whole writing thing fell through. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about any of them, not the way I am about writing and publishing. Then one day I realized that having those plans in the back of my mind was actually my own mind discouraging me. Having a back-up plan, I realized, meant that on some level, I expected myself to fail, and that was not a good thing. You can’t expect anyone to believe in you if you can’t believe in yourself.
And with that, I will say good night, because I am very sleepy.