This summer marks my third year as an independent author.
And I’ve learned a lot about it over the last three years.
In November of 2012, my first manuscript was finished and for the first time, I was curious about what it would take to self-publish my novel, Falling For Your Madness. It changed my life! First of all, this was a life long dream now coming to pass, but other than that I learned some very interesting and surprising things too!
Word of mouth is everything! The success of my first novel was solely based on how my readers embraced it and shared it with others. I started out by telling everyone I knew what I had written, asking them for reviews, then asking them to talk it up with their friends. It helps that the themes and ideas of my book resonated with others. It also helped that I had friends who knew people who knew people. If I had been afraid to speak up, my first experiences would have been far poorer.
The first book sets the stage for the second. The second sets the stage for the third, etc. As a result of the success of Falling For Your Madness, I received a contract for Write A Novel in 10 Minutes A Day, which prompted me to create the Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists. From there my platform exploded and now I’m in a better position to market Soulless Creatures. I’ve got more plans and each new project will build on the previous one’s success.
My readers are just friends I haven’t met yet. The very best thing about this? Meeting people. I have had so many interesting conversations with new readers, especially on Twitter and Facebook. I can’t imagine not having the accessibility to connect with readers. How lonely it would be if I wrote and never heard from anyone if they liked it. Now, years later, some of my most enthusiastic readers have become dear friends and I am all the richer for it.
Marketing is fun. Because I see how my book is starting new conversations and new relationships, I am all the more excited about marketing it. “Hey, this is my book! If you read it, then we can talk about it and we can be buddies!” It sounds kind of needy when I put it like that. But maybe the book is what I need to get out of my introverted shell to have great relationships. Oh, and sell a few books. Author happiness is getting an email from Amazon.com that they’ve just deposited another royalty check in my account.
Not everybody gets it. As much as it hurts, not everybody loved my book. I did shed a few tears over unexpected rejection. But, as painful as it was to receive, it will toughen me up for the next disappointment. I’m not stupid. I know there will be more. Reviewers may miss the point. In fact, the things I wanted them to notice, like interesting juxtaposition of gender roles or systematic point of view arrangement or all the animal references! will most likely be ignored.
Some people get it too much. I’ve had quite a few discussions with readers who brought up some serious questions about my characters. The choices I made in the writing provoked them to ask questions, some hard ones. I didn’t expect this. I glad about it. I’m also grateful that every reader brings to the book their own experiences. This makes the joy of the writing process even more complete: to hear of how their experience with my words changed them, for better or for worse.
Making local connections isn’t so hard! I’ve only lived in this community for a year and half and I’ve been able to have several live events. Each time I pass out cards, sell books and meet people. Some of the people I’ve met are huge influencers and have opened more doors for me. It wasn’t that hard to do and I’m so glad I did it.
Nothing like fulfilling a lifelong dream to build that confidence. This is huge for me. Before I published this book, that lifelong dream had exceeded my grasp. Now, because I have sales! I have an author page on Amazon! I have readers! (And a contract! And an agent!) I have a new credibility in my eyes and in the eyes of others. I have to say, this accomplishment has done WONDERS for me. I’m holding my head a little higher. It’s awesome!
Life is busier. Publishing, for me, is not a one time event. My plan is to write many more books. This means that not only will I have to do that whole “hands on keyboard, butt in chair” thing, but I’ll also have to tweet more, market more, contact more people, blog more and generally be the nicest writer on the Internet. It’s okay. This is a good kind of busy. Until my books are selling thousands and thousands of copies daily, I’ll just have to find the time to hustle.
I learned more skills. Because of this release I learned how to put my books on Createspace and Kindle Direct. I learned how to overcome my fear and approach reviewers. I learned how to do boring technical stuff like WordPress and banking. I learned how to manage my time. I learned how to think through marketing campaigns. All of this wasn’t too hard and it made me all the more confident to do the actual writing. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, even if it won’t always translate into sales.
I can’t wait to release the next one. I’m sure there are more lessons to learn, more people to meet and more opportunities to hold my head up high.
So what about you? What have you learned since you’ve self-published? What seems intimidating?
Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.