I started writing a seriously in 2014 and consequently, self-published called the Last Prophecy Series. My reason remains sound; it was a twenty-one novella and book fantasy steampunk series. Not exactly a trendy topic, succinct series, or the kind of project that would be over in a few years.
But I was determined and it remains to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Getting an editor taught me a lot about my writing and how to write better. I moved on from the series to do other work. My scripts outside that series since then have had requests from agents. I have a publishing contract with Literary Wanderlust for Behind the Veil. I’ve gone on to self publish another series called Queen of Spades – a sci-fi action romance trilogy.
Here is what you need to know about this process and why it’s not something that lasts a year or two, but a lifetime.
Writing books take time. With many successful self-published authors who you may have never heard of, they attribute the full-time writer dream to releasing a book every six months. But when you have to write the damn thing, spend ages editing, and then get others to help with that process too it can be daunting. With families, jobs, and other things taxing time the idea of a book in a year let alone two is impossible.
The second thing to consider is do you have a stand-alone book? Is it a good fit for a specific genre? Is it the ONE book inside you? Many writers find once they have written a book that’s it, they’re done, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many writers have dozens of stories, can write often, and do. The thing to figure out is what kind of writer you are, and what you want from your stories.
Don’t kid yourself on movie deals and insta-fame; like any artistic endeavor, this should be about the soul. Because without a lot of luck, marketing, and constant work, and time, that’s not realistic.
If you have just one book you love and have spent years working on, why not query it? Don’t be scared of querying or an inevitable “no”, because I’ve seen authors with no social media presence and no contacts get agents. Research carefully and if you’re sure this is THE book, and you want to get it to a traditional publisher, then do try querying first. You’re going to know the quality of your work and the marketability of your idea pretty quickly with their reaction.
Do you have a lot of ideas? Can afford the time, savvy, and dedication needed to self publish? Because it requires a lot of work and that’s one of the most underestimated parts of self-publishing.
It’s a piece of creative work, but you are the person who decides the right path for you, and because they’re side by side you can move between the two, just be sure you know what you’re getting into.
I often see authors publish with self-made covers, no editing, and no marketing plan wonder why their book isn’t selling.
Imagine going to a café and seeing sandwiches on the shelf; are you going to pick the pickle and anchovy on lumpy weird looking bread, or the focaccia with smoked salmon, cream cheese, baby spinach, and capers? I mean, maybe not, that’s my favourite and I’m hungry but you get the picture.
Getting a professional-looking cover is not hard with research into the genre, some good stock photos, and getting comfortable with programs like GIMP. Having a good developmental editor is easy with many authors on social media offering beta and critical partner readings if you don’t want to hire a professional. Seeking out places that advertise your book, creating social media platforms, and avenues to advertise is easy with a bit of research.
But all this takes work, and it’s endless, it never stops and you are never not doing that.
When you take into consideration that you still have to write a book every six months that’s a lot of work. It’s constant, you do some every day, and some times it sucks away whole weekends. I’ve dedicated weeks of annual leave from day jobs for this and I wouldn’t have it any other way because I’m happy doing what I do.
Be sure you’re ready for the kind of work needed, and what’s involved, and if you like the idea of it. Because if you don’t, or are finding it hard, it might not be for you.
The End Goal
What do you want out of life?
It’s one of those questions you get asked in random quizzes and occasional in job interviews when they want to be sadistic. Heck, lots of money, love, and to live happily ever after? You can’t magic those into existence. Money takes business savvy, luck, saving, and accrument few of us possess. Love even in long term relationships is not always an easy task or a life long one.
Happiness? The most annoying old adage of finding it within yourself is, unfortunately, true and nothing could be more right than when talking about your writing journey.
I’ve seen so many writers give up after their book didn’t sell. They throw the towel in and disappear. Many writers perceive it is a “make it or fail” industry. They forget that this is like any other hobby; a creative outlet. You need to decide what you want for you, for your stories, and for your time.
If you have a single story you love with your whole heart, have poured years of work into, and just want to see out there, don’t be afraid of querying. I saw one writer query seven hundred agents, over five years before landing an agent that got her enviable big five publishing contract. She had another book, but it was in its drafting phases and she was happy with that. But she didn’t quit on what she wanted.
If you have heaps of stories and you have the determination to make it work, self publish. It’s very rewarding to get your books out there, your way, on your time, and finally in your hands. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work, but my god nothing is better than waking up to messages stating people loved your book and can’t wait for the next one.
The other thing to remember is the tendency for emerging writers to think it’s either self-publishing or traditional publishing, without taking into account the number of small presses out there. Literary Wanderlust has been nothing but supportive and wonderful to work with, and I’m very happy to be publishing with them. There are hundreds of small presses out there that do sell books and a lot of them.
There is no one place for your book to end up, or your career, but the most important thing to ask yourself is what you get out of the time you spend doing it, and if it doesn’t make you happy then ask yourself why.
This doesn’t make me happy all the time. I’ve cried, raged, lost hope, and faith over my writing career.
Nearly given up a time or two myself.
But I didn’t because when I asked myself why sit down and go on it’s because I love what I do. Ask yourself what you want, because no one else is going to make you happy. You figure this out yourself, you don’t give up at the first sign of defeat, and you do it knowing whatever comes, it’s time well spent.