I was at a family vacation and something of a personal writing retreat when I came across Kristen Lamb’s article, “Five Mistakes Killing Self-Published Authors.” An excellent article and a good checklist for those considering or in the process of self-publishing.
Her post got me thinking about where I’m at. In the interests of sharing with my friends how things are going and offering folks who visit here things to think about for their own publishing journey, here are my responses to Kristen’s five items.
1) Publishing before I’m ready
Well, the good news is that it hasn’t happened yet. The bad news is that 2014 is all but over and I have not finished or launched any of the projects I listed earlier this year.
I’ve been studying and practicing creative writing since I was a teen. I’ve written a bunch of short stories. I’ve finished at least one novel. I’ve taken college courses. I’ve paid for conferences and workshops. I’ve read decades of Writer’s Digest and have a library of books on writing fiction. I listen to podcasts and read writing blogs. From the feedback I’ve received from mentors and teachers, my prose is ready. I’m always learning and growing and improving, but it’s of publishable quality.
So far, so good.
2) Not knowing the business side of the business
3) Thinking “If I write it, they will come.”
I’ve kept an eye on the business side of things for decades. As a web publisher, I’ve learned and practiced enough about the e-publishing and e-marketing side of things to write books on it. I have some top-notch critique partners and a solid editor. I’ve got the tools for formatting and publishing. I have some resources for getting covers created, if I don’t come up with some on my own (with my graphic design background, I’m qualified to do it, though I may choose to outsource). I already have a small business as a freelance web designer, so the basic self-employment details are in place.
The pieces are in place. And I know that it’s going to take continued releases and prolific writing to do well.
Another fantastic post that Kristen put out recently is “What are the REAL Odds of Being an Successful Author?” If you’re wondering whether you have what it takes, that’s a great read, too.
4) Misusing “FREE”
This is such a great point that Kristen made. Free can be a powerful tool, but you need to know how to use it. And generally it does well in tandem with writing prolifically and knowing the business side of things.
5) Shopping one book “to death”
This also ties in with being prolific. Once you have a book finished, that’s great. But that’s not good enough. You cannot just stop and work on promoting that one book. As Kristen said, you will have much better success with promotion and creating fans when you have at least three books, and I’ve even heard you should have five books out to really get rolling. Or at least five titles. Shorter works can do a lot of the same work that novels do — they get your name before the eyes of readers. They give you a “bunch” of listings in Amazon’s catalog so you appear to be someone who is more than a one-shot wonder.
Since I haven’t released even one book yet, I don’t have this problem. And I don’t plan to. I might hold back, as Kristen says she’s doing with one particular series, and wait to publish until after I’ve finished several books. Or I’ll release them as they are ready but hold off on the heavy marketing and promotion until I have more out there.
There’s something to be said for having a release schedule that allows you to get some momentum by releases them all relatively close together. The excitement of a book release party should not be overlooked.
My life keeps me busy. I value my family and time with pursuits outside of writing and publishing. So publishing may go more slowly than I’d like. But I think the basic building blocks for success are in place. I’ll learn along the way, and I won’t let feeling unprepared stop me from stepping out when the time comes. Thanks to people like Kristen, I can do sanity checks to see where I’m at and refine my trajectory.
By the way, Kristen’s book Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World
is fantastic. I highly recommend it.
Where are you in your publishing journey? Are you considering self-publishing? What did you think of Kristen’s article — anything you would add to it?
Here’s to much growth and success in 2015. The year of opportunity!