I’ve discovered, like I’m sure many others have as well, that there’s a lot to learn out there in the world of self-publishing. Those days of query letters and traditional publishing being the only avenue for a new author, are long gone. The great land of confusion that is self-publishing is a daunting world of unknowns and chances. I may have learned a thing or two in the past few years, but there is a wealth of information I receive daily that reminds me writing is indeed a business; not merely something I’m obsessed with.
Those who write, do so for a variety of reasons. For me, it’s the grand escape, living in my make-believe world with my beautiful characters. Sure, it is an outlet for my imagination, which at times feels scattered and chaotic. And of course, there’s the thrill of hearing those voices in your head, begging for their story to be told. In the years since I first started writing – thirty or so – I’ve most certainly become more obsessive about writing in general. I spent many years, plugging away on my little stories…. at first writing them out longhand, keeping them to myself and hiding my little gems like some forbidden secret. Once I eventually found the guts and determination to admit out loud that I love to write and I hope to publish, the dam broke wide open and now there’s no turning back.
While writing is a lesson in patience, self-publishing is a lesson in choices. Lots and lots of choices. Do I use a middleman company, the so-called self-publishers publisher? Do I make my own cover, or use a designer? What makes a good cover, a good cover? What about editing? Do I trust my friends and family to do a thorough job of perusing my manuscript with a fine-toothed comb, or do I shell out the money for a professional who really knows how to tear it all apart, leave me in tears, and yet make my story shine like it’s meant to? The list goes on and on and on. And I must say, were it not for the advice and counsel that authors graciously share with the rest of us via social media, I’d still be wandering around with my manuscript in hand trying to muddle through on my own.
If you’re a writer, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Writing is a lonely, lonely business. You throw down your heart and your soul onto each page, then stand on the edge of the cliff and swan dive off into the great unknown. Without a parachute. And that’s making it sound easy. But would I change a thing? Would I go back, do it all over, and not make those mistakes and choices I first made? Nope. Not at all. Those mistakes and choices, I believe, will only make me a better writer. Of course, I may put out novel after novel, and reach a minimal audience. Or, lightening might strike and I might go from complete obscurity to instant success. That’s the thing about this craft… there’s a 50% chance you’ll do great, and a 50% chance you will fail. In a land of confusion such as this, those odds are pretty good.