The choice to pursue self-publishing or traditional publishing is a tough one, and the “right choice” is different for everyone.
For me, it was self-publishing.
But there are a few things I wish I knew ahead of time.
Today, I’m sharing them with you.
This path takes so much work. You’re not just the writer. You have to be an entire publishing house.
That means that everything falls to you.
Unless, of course, you hire some of the work out. There are a few aspects of this route that most would recommend working with a pro (covers and editing, for example).
So, it can get pricey.
And it is definitely a lot of work.
This should not be done alone.
I know, the “self” in self-publishing implies otherwise, but working in a vacuum is a dangerous thing, for multiple reasons.
You need feedback from others to know what works and what doesn’t. You’re too close to your work to see all the flaws, sometimes because of attachments to characters and sometimes because we know what’s going on and our brain fills in the things that aren’t (but should be) on the page.
But also because this shit gets stressful.
Having a group of writer friends, people who understand all the intricacies, or a few non-writers willing to learn about publishing through your venting, is pivotal. It really helps alleviate the stress sometimes.
And who knows, they might see a solution you don’t.
Or in the case of writer friends, they might have experienced the same problem you’re experiencing, and maybe they already have a workaround for it.
Start your author platform now.
I used to hate social media. I avoided it like the plague. I dragged my feet, posted inconsistently, and hesitated to start my newsletter.
But now, my author platform is kinda the only reason I’ve sold any books.
It’s how I reach people, how I meet other authors, how I connect with reviewers and readers.
And it takes time to build a solid author platform. I started late, so I’m not where most would like to be after releasing seven books. But I’m getting there.
And if you haven’t, you need to start building yours.
Even if you haven’t finished a book yet.
You can post things about you, about how you write, what books you like to read (extra points if they’re in the genre you write in because that’ll draw in people who read in that genre).
Figure out which platform you want to start with and go for it. Start a newsletter ASAP.
And if you’re counting Instagram out because “What would I post pictures of?”… You. Books. Bookshelves. Character art. Mood boards. There are infinite possibilities.
Take some marketing and advertising classes.
Marketing and advertising (yeah, they’re different things) are the main reason I considered traditional publishing. Then, research revealed that a good portion would still fall to me even if I went the traditional route.
But instead of doing the smart thing and throwing myself into classes and figuring out how to do those things properly right at the outset, I… didn’t.
I don’t know why, honestly.
Dread, I think. Social anxiety and intimidation.
But I’ve been taking classes off and on, and trying to figure them out. I still have a long way to go, so I’m not about to do any advertising blogs, but I do suggest learning how to market and advertise your books.
As a self-published author, it falls to you to get your books out there, and it is not an easy thing to do. There are literally millions of books out there, and it’s up to us to figure out how to get people to first, see our books, and second, buy them.
This is a valid publishing route.
The self-publishing stigma is intense. So much so that for a while, I was ashamed of my choice. Of course, part of that is just me. (I tend to worry too much about what others think and whether or not I’m letting them down.)
But after more research, after talking to other (much more successful) indie writers, after seeing what’s out there, after paying attention to which books are indie and which aren’t (and seeing monstrosities and absolute gems in both publishing avenues), I realized that this is a valid publishing route.
And shame has no place in it.
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