Sometimes my best writing ideas come to me while relaxing in the bath. It’s my time to unwind and just let my mind go. Tonight, it wandered into contemplation on self-publishing, and how it is becoming the first step to most writing careers. How do I know this? Well, I recently was at a writing conference, and met an editor that recognized my pen name from promoting my self-published novelettes. I have traced it back to the promoting I do on Facebook through parties and multi-author events. Other authors from her press have promoted at the parties from time to time. So, she already knew my name.
Talk about a way through the door. It opened a whole new revelation. All of my self-publishing promotion time, learning to write, work with a freelance editor, cover designer and learning to format my own books has given me a unique perspective than many authors out there. I already have a small self-publishing imprint I’m using for two pen names, and I’m running it like a small business. I’m an entrepreneur now, not just a writer.
What does it mean for future writers? You all are going to have to do this too. Well, to at least get into the door and be a hybrid. By hybrid, I mean have projects(novels, novellas, short stories) self-published and traditionally published. By this, I don’t mean the hybrid presses.
I’m sure that maybe some of you have heard of new presses that are calling themselves hybrids. They have packages where you give them 4-5 thousand dollars, and do all the promotions, cover design, formatting, editing, and hold your hand a bit. This could be necessary for those starting out. But really. Who has several thousand dollars to throw around? Um. Well, some do. I did start with a small POD publisher that got gulped(bought out) by a vanity press. I was not happy. They charged more money for shotty work. I ended up finishing the second book and working on the third book until I had enough with the vanity press. I went full Indie self-publishing with all of my romance books.
How long did this journey take? Ten years. I started writing and revising my first children’s book in 2005, and moved onto romance in 2013. I’ve been writing romance for 3 years now, and have really learned a lot. And finally, I may have an “IN” for getting my first full novel traditionally published. Time will tell. But to get to this point, I kept writing and learning. I developed my writing skills, and worked on my self-publishing skills. Together, I am an awesome force of writer, a new breed of writer.
I don’t make enough money to give up the day job. My health issues decided to pull me away from the career I formally had. And I’m having to start over. At least I can write now. And I’m finding that no matter what, being able to self-publish what I do satisfies a need to readers out there. I once remember Hugh Howey saying to the effect, “The world can never have enough books.” Self-publishing may be flooding the world with books. But we need them. We can never have enough books.
So, how can you jump start you career with self publishing? Start by writing a manuscript. Then, get out and find some beta readers. Two or three friends or other writers that will give you some feedback on what to change. Then, go through their suggestions, make the changes. Read books on how to write and do the craft. Take an on-line course on novel writing. They are reasonable. I took two last year for $99 each.
Hire a freelance editor. There are now huge amounts of these on the internet. Look on kboards.com for people listed to get you started. Go through the process of revision, and polish your manuscript to perfection.
Now, you can go two roads at this point. You can submit to editors and agents to go the traditional route. Or you can self-publish. I would stick to the plan that you feel fits the writing project. This is where some people aren’t sure what to do. Let the project tell you.
I have been working a series of children’s fairy books for 10 years now. If I had wallowed and just stopped at the first book, there would be nothing for the kids that love the series. I also just talked to an agent recently that said fairy books are a hard sell right now. A few years ago, they weren’t. But you know, kids love them right now. And since I self-published the series, I’ll finish the last book and the series out. The kids needing fairy books will get them.
Whether you publish traditional or self-publish, you will still need to promote yourself. Small and medium presses don’t promote their authors often, and the Big 5 won’t promote you unless you are a big name. So, get used to the idea you will do you’re own promotion. It is ok. You don’t have to spend all day doing it. Just devote a certain time of the day to it. Set a time limit, because it can suck you in. I spent 1-2 hours working on my promotions in the morning. I have afternoon and evening writing times to work on projects. That is my day. It works for me.
What to do with the promotions? Well, my friends, that might have to be another post. But I’m getting back into my writing swing these days, and I’m planning more Unlimit Your Writing posts in the future. I’m planning on more in depth posts on how to do the self-publishing process in simple steps, and the promotional end of it as well. So, please follow my blog. There will be more to come. Stay tuned.
Picture courtesy of © Grzegorz Wolczyk | Dreamstime Stock Photo