Self-Publishing: One Year and Counting

Nobody NoseThis is a retread of several posts I’ve written about my self-publishing experience so far. Those new to my blog have gotten the best of my blogging endeavor. When I first began, I sucked at it. Really. Frustration got the better of me. It’s evident now as I read my early posts, they were unfocused. Unless readers possessed extraordinary powers of perception it was unlikely they would know what point I was trying to make. This could have been avoided if I’d taken time to set my intention. But nooo, I had a lot to say and none of it could wait.

Exhibit A: Rookie Blogging Mistake

I recognized I was a rookie when it came to social media. There’s nothing wrong with my honest assessment in that post, but I didn’t make it clear that the mundane minutia widget was actually the Facebook widget and that I didn’t misplace it, I gave it the boot because it wasn’t the proper tool for marketing my book. But then I skipped right to a list of books and authors I enjoy. What kind of writing was that for someone who is trying to market a self-published book? Crap writing, that’s what. I’m only just now realizing this is a common occurrence among self-publishers who, as stated in a comment on Sweet Mother, [...fail to wear the hats of the business behind the scenes of publisher, proofer, editor, cover artist, promoter etc.]

Other posts I’ve written about self-publishing have yielded these profound nuggets.

From The Set Up:

Smashwords Edition

It takes courage, strength and lots of patients to bring any book to market no matter how it is published. Creating the story, characters, plot, and dialog is the easy part. New authors, who choose to self-publish, face challenges from without and within. Once the editing is finished and a publishing platform is chosen, that’s when the action adventure really begins. Publishing elitist opinions notwithstanding, quantity over quality is a valid issue. There are as many opinions as there are books.

Frustration and doubt are relentless saboteurs.

It is important to seek writers groups in your local area and online. Professional and social media is there to provide information, resources, and tools to get the job done. It is wise to explore your options. It’s also wise not to believe everything you hear/read. Another author’s timeline, budget and methods may not be right for you. The mission, should you decide to accept it is to find what works best for you and run with it.

Be aware it can be brutal.

Print on demand and eBook formats are not an either/or proposition. Self-published authors can deliver the best of both. Choosing distribution and marketing methods can seem overwhelming.  Asking for help may not be easy. Trying to follow all of the advice doesn’t make it any easier. You may even feel like you’ve been set up for failure.

Just as you begin to experience exhaustion and you think you can’t wait any longer for validation that self-publishing was the right decision, that’s the time to be fearless. Someone has been where you are and is waiting with a flashlight at the other end of the tunnel. They don’t have a secret decoder ring, but they may be someone who can help set you up for success. There is an emerging network of Indie Authors to provide support for those trying to build momentum for their self-published work.

From The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, an attempt to address the turbulence in the publishing world and share the lovely allegory about book lovers.

If publishers and purveyors of the written word are the high rollers, then self-publishing insiders are holding their own at the penny slots. Whether trading on NASDAQ or trading on word of mouth, the book biz is a gamble. When the dust settles after the brick & mortar moguls finish their demolition and reconstruction, the structure that emerges will make the Bellagio look like a Dave & Busters.

The word on the street is that books in print may go the way of the dinosaur and readers everywhere will be retro fitted with a digital implant capable of holding every word ever written by man or machine. Who knows who will be first in line to get that hip and trendy device. It makes no difference. Books are treasures and someone somewhere will keep them safe. Hopefully.

Then there was the sweltering heat, boredom induced summertime blues post entitled What Self-Publishing Means To Me in which I tried to convince myself convey to readers that I am in this thing for the long haul.

After a year of learning as I go, today my book became available for Kindle on Amazon. I tried my best with Smashwords, but it just doesn’t seem that readers, who aren’t medical professionals, are willing to risk catching something go there to purchase my book. So, for anyone who writes and has a desire to be published, I have this to say:

Do it. Get an agent. If you can’t afford an agent, get your cousin Gerard to wheel and deal to make you the next literary sensation. If Gerard is still incarcerated unavailable, try email blasts to Oprah’s Book Club. After the County Sheriff serves you with a cease and desist, consider self-publishing.

It beats having your guts ripped out by a wheat thresher.

There is a community of supportive Indie Authors. For people willing to invest the time it can be a great way to network, but everyone has a book to promote and it can be tough to filter out good opportunities from complete wastes of time. Also, only time will tell if a connection you make will yield the results you’re looking for. If you want to make self-publishing friends, find out what works and what sucks join a group. If you don’t like people that much and you just want to sell books…good luck.

There are a bazillion opinions out there on writing, marketing and the business of publishing. If you have a concept that sets you on fire and you can’t sleep, eat or shower until you share it with the world, great, get it out there. If you have a story that must be told, tell it. Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre of choice, write, edit, talk to people, go to book stores. Ask your peeps what they like to read. If they don’t read, you need new peeps. Ask strangers what they like to read. Stare at people in libraries. See if you can read their minds. Edit some more. Read Summoning the Strength by Stephanie Briggs. If you enjoy it, tell everyone you know. If you think it sucks, tell no one. Peace.

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20 Responses to Self-Publishing: One Year and Counting

  1. Impower You says:

    I spend a lot of time marketing with okay results, but what I realized after a while is that what I should be doing was writing more books. So this week I published two new books. My thinking is that if I have more options to choose from then I can reach a broader audience and thus sell more books. I LOVE writing so much that my goal is to have that be my primary career. Honie you have been a great resource for self publishing, are very inspiring without being corny, and I love reading ALL of your blog. You are a great writer and I hope that Amazon will be a great boon towards your success. Cheers to you and congrats on being a published author for one year.

    • Honie Briggs says:

      Thanks so much for your comments Leah and for all of the things you do in your life to empower young women. It does take time and a willingness to stick with it. I appreciate your support.

      • Impower You says:

        You’re welcome and thank you. I enjoy empowering girls and women so much it feels like more of a gift than anything. As a kid I was constantly told that serving my country, various gods, or family would make me happy. Then, I thought was both stupid and corny. Now thought, it makes sense because doing something that makes life better for someone else really does create happiness for me. I just wonder what I will learn in the next 30 years!

  2. Great advice for any newbie author considering self-publishing. It’s definitely all about marketing, and I agree with your “get an agent” directive. I spent a year and a half trying my darnedest to do that very thing, but as you know it is tough as hell to break into the industry and get anybody to agree to even read a chapter or two, let alone an entire manuscript. For me, self-publishing was definitely the way to go! Which isn’t to say, for the next book, I won’t try my darnedest once again to get an agent first…

  3. Sweet Mother sent me over here and I am glad she did! Having read through, oh I don’t know about the past 20 or so of your offerings I am happily pushing the follow button (but desperate to push the big shiny red button). Looking forward to more.

    • Honie Briggs says:

      Valentine, That Sweet Mother is sweet to send you over here. You go ahead and push the big shiny red button if you want to. Thanks for following. I’ll try not to disappoint. :)

  4. artsifrtsy says:

    I can see that I need to buckle down and figure out how to navigate through this – I guess I should finish writing and editing so that I actually have something to fret about:)

    • Honie Briggs says:

      Well, I’d say don’t fret, and really…don’t, but I know what you mean. I did this, and if there has ever been an appropriate time to say, “if I can do it, anyone can” this is it. I am serious. Once you finish the draft, send it to a friend and have them read it, get a school teacher who isn’t totally burned out to give it the once over with a red pencil, hire an editor. There are a bazillion of them out there. When the draft comes back to you, treat yourself to a nice steak, get a good night’s sleep, and THEN, start polishing. You have something great with The King Of Isabelle Avenue. I know you do.

      • artsifrtsy says:

        Thanks! I see that the writing is just the tip of the iceberg:) I plan to do some more writing over my holiday break and see where I’m at then. I appreciate the advice and encouragement.

  5. Lovely post and here’s to the next 365! I hope I can say that about mine next year. Keep up the great work, I’ll be here reading!

  6. You’ll be my “go-to” person if I ever get this lead balloon of a novel off the ground!

  7. I just bought a copy of your book on Kindle with my Smugmug savings ;). Thank you for making this book available as an eBook. Good Luck.

  8. susan1gb says:

    Love the Uncle Gerard part. I’ll try to stare at people at the library, but the charge to be quiet there makes me giggle. I may scare someone.
    But seriously, thanks for the advice.

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