Since I decided to venture into the world of self-publishing I’ve found all manner of doors flying open in places I didn’t even realise there were doors! With the stigma of self-publishing washing away, there’s a huge community of writers out there scrambling to help each other where mainstream publishers have either failed, or not even been involved at all. There’s a sense of family, a support network, a bond that comes from knowing that every one of us is essentially going it alone in this big, brave new world. But through it all, we’re not alone. And that’s what’s so exciting.
By immersing myself in this indie world of fellow creative spirits, I may have found the people I didn’t even know I was looking for, finally! They’re vocal, daring, enthusiastic, slightly nerdy (like me) and above all, willing to spread the love until our voices, words and goddam HARD WORK take over the world. It’s a team effort, smashing down the walls that keep our work from the masses, but together, we’re an army. And we’re winning. For the first time ever in my publishing career, I don’t feel like I’m alone.
Why would I have felt alone before, with a mainstream publisher behind me for three books? Well, because most of the time, I was.
I have to admit, I was disappointed by the lack of help I received when it came to distribution and marketing. There were problems with uploads to Amazon, I never received sales figures, I had zero control over who could buy my book or where, and to be honest, while my publishers were all very nice I couldn’t help but feel like a tiny fish in a huge pond that meant little to nothing to anyone.
It wasn’t their fault; I made mistakes too. For a long time I thought that simply because my books had been published, they would sell. I mean, I’m not a marketing whiz. I’m a writer! That’s why I was giving 90% of my earnings away to a publisher, right? So they could help me sell my books!
But man, oh man. No. That was the biggest mistake ever. All writers are marketers. Marketing, for a writer, is probably more important than writing. Perhaps it wasn’t always this way, but in a world of condensed news bulletins and a thousand TV channels all competing for our attention, we have to be big, we have to be loud and we have to be on the ball.
Now I know that whereas it’s OK to make mistakes, it’s not OK if you don’t learn from them.
So, instead of pushing my work to a publisher again straight away, I plan to release my work myself, as eBooks. Alone. But remember, I am not alone. Four years ago when I had my first book published, I would never have had the incredible pool of resources I have now; Goodreads, Smashwords, KDP, Pagemodo, NetGalley co-ops, bloggers, Fiverr (an army of talented people willing to help for $5), a TweetDeck full of likeminded writers, readers and marketing geniuses to help me. Now, it seems anything is possible, as long as we put the effort in. I’ve found incredible support from places like Critiqe Circle and BookMarketingTools, too, which is a minefield of amazing help and advice from people who quite frankly, deserve to be knighted.
But still… effort is not enough.
It’s daunting at first. I mean, there’s so much to learn. When I made the decision to jump on the self-publishing bandwagon I found myself Googling one thing, only to stumble upon 20 more things I should be learning about in order to crack the self publishing market. I now have a growing document, already 3000 words long, of names, brands, contacts, companies, people to talk to, add to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram… I mean, the list goes on. And while it’s growing, I have to implement the changes it’s imperative I make. I must Tweet, blog, converse, download, upload, read and yes, sometimes, maybe even write. That’s kind of important, too.
It’s like taking a college course with myself and the Internet as the tutor. There’s no point graduating with the launch of my now finished-books unless I know what the hell to do with them.
Putting effort into gathering sources is one thing, but knowing how to put it all together is another. And it can be an expensive project. It’s becoming clearer as the days go by, that to do this well, I will have to spend money; perhaps even more than I’ll make back, initially. So what’s the point, you might ask?
Personally, it’s not even about the money right now.
I know… I know it sounds silly to say that, because obviously I would prefer to write my books all day, every day than carry on with whatever else I have to do to pay the bills, but when you’re a writer, you just have to write. Right? You have to share your stories, your thoughts and words with the world. You have to do this, else the voices in your head nag and nag at you to sit the hell down and do it! And if a mainstream publisher cares more about the money than spreading these carefully crafted gifts around the world once they’re ready… well, that right there is the start of a BIG problem.
Having lovely things is nice, sure, but as a creative, you care more about reaching hearts and souls on this crazy spinning planet than you do about anything else. You want to reach people. Sometimes you’re a downright weirdo about things. You have days where you don’t get out of bed, don’t brush your hair, don’t sleep till 4am because you can’t break away from the worlds in your head; worlds you want to share, eventually. All this, cannot be for nothing.
Neil Gaiman is a huge inspiration to me whenever I think I’ve had enough (or I have to leave the house for some milk).
And so the battle continues, along with my army; until the day comes to conquer.
(My new adult book ‘Before He Was Famous’ will be out soon! (Somehow)