It has been nearly a year, now, since I published my first book. I’m an indie author as it’s referred to, and what that means is I don’t have an agent or a publisher. I arrange for proof reading, editing, and publishing. I do most of it myself and I even do all my own covers. I’ve seen all sorts of articles and blogs, and postings in forums, that decry this method as being the worst possible way to go about putting out the “perfect” book, and I must say, they have a point.
I do get some help from my very sharp daughter who also is good at pitching ideas to me, but basically, I read and re-read my story ’til I’m blue in the face then after its published, I still find typos and errors. Sigh. So, I go back and do updates ’til I’m blue in the face than pray I didn’t do something stupid in my formatting so the manuscript will get past that meat-grinder converter at Smashwords or that Amazon or Createspace doesn’t sneer at what I’ve wrought. I have to admit that I haven’t had a lot of trouble with that, although a couple of times I found I’d re-uploaded the exact same error-ridden manuscript and had to go back and do a re-re-upload. Heh. That’s life.
I’ve redone some book covers because they were terrible, and even now am in the process of redoing several more because they’re not so hot.
In case you’re wondering why I don’t just pay someone to do these things for me – because, after all, all of these services can be bought and some of the prices are quite reasonable – it’s because I’m broke. I can either pay my mortgage and other bills, and buy groceries, not to mention keep my internet connection, or pay for all those wonderful services. So.
Truth be told, I never set out to publish in the first place. I just wanted to write a book – mostly because I’ve always liked to write. The book was actually one I started some years ago but living got in the way of writing so I laid it down and forgot it for a while. Then I retired.
I twiddled my thumbs for a while, did a little drawing and painting, joined Facebook and played Farmville and various other fun games over there. Then, one day my old desktop computer started acting up and I decided to get a new one before it went all the way kerplunket.
When I checked to see if there were any documents or files I wanted to save from the old one to the new, I found the book I’d started years before, hiding in an old version of Word. So I hauled it out and began fiddling around with it. It actually turned into a trilogy once I got going because it was ‘way too much for one book. I’ve already published the first two books and am currently writing the third. As a matter of fact, I’ve found that I’ve published ten altogether in this year since I got started.
Didn’t set out to do that either; it just sort of happened. Oh, most are not novel-length, just the two in the trilogy. There are a couple of novellas, some novelettes, and some short stories. Still, it’s quite a bit more than I ever set out to do.
I probably never would have published the first book at all if one of my daughters hadn’t said, “Mom, you gonna publish that?”
Anyway, I’ve been asked why I decided to self-publish instead of trying to go the traditional route. Here’s why: knowing absolutely nothing about it at all, I did what you do when you don’t know how to do something: I Googled it. After looking up a lot of stuff and learning I’d need an agent before I could ever get to a publisher, I Googled “agents”.
After some judicious reading, it gradually began to dawn on me that I’d probably be dead and cremated before I ever got anything into print. Or, as my other daughter said, too old and addled to remember I’d ever written anything. Then I ran across an article on self-publishing, did more Googling, found Smashwords, and thought: “I’ll do that!” And so I did. And it was sooo easy!
The thing is, you can publish all you want but if you don’t promote, no one knows it’s there because there are a kazillion other writers out there, all clamoring to get some attention for their work. This presents a problem in being seen for the the individual author, and if you want to actually sell some books, they have to be seen. So…back to Googling.
Sigh. Promoting means “selling” and a salesperson I’m not. I’ve tried some of the suggestions I ran up on, such as getting a blog – which I had no idea how to use once I (Googled how and) got one. Then, there was the Facebook author page, setting up my other author pages at Smashwords and Amazon, then I was told I should put my books on Goodreads and set up an author’s page there, too, and I should sign up for Twitter and various and sundry other social media. And I did. I’m not good at any of that stuff but I did it anyway.
In between trying to learn how to use all that stuff, I’m still plugging away at that third book in my trilogy, plus, there are four others I’ve got started (don’t ask me why! It just happened!) that I haven’t worked on in a while. Plus, I haven’t played Farmville in a loooong time. And I liked that game. It helped me relax.
Today, it occurred to me that I’m missing something else important to me: I haven’t had time to read! I love to read and my Kindle is loaded with books that I truly want to read. Before I got on this kick of trying to promote books that I never set out to publish in the first place, I read a lot. Now, the last book I read was back during the summer, and I only read that one to do a review. And I’m tired and headachy from trying to keep up with all the Facebook groups I’ve joined, the blogs I follow, Goodreads, Wattpad, my blog(s), all the other social media…double sigh!
I’m retired but lately I’ve begun to feel as if I’m back to working a job and I don’t want a job. I worked all my life and that was fine. It’s what people do who want to take care of their families, have a house to live in, food to eat, maybe get a few little niceties. No problem. But I don’t want to do it now. I want to read. When I want to. And writing is fun, I absolutely love it, so I want to keep doing that, too. Promoting and selling? Not so much. Maybe if I had started doing this years ago, when I was much younger, it would be different. I had more energy then, so, perhaps. But, that is neither here nor there. It’s the present and I’m going to relax, get in some reading, write a little, and enjoy myself.
Besides, I’ve given away a lot more books than I ever sold.