This is part 1 of what I’ve learned in the world of self-publishing my books. The indie author world is strange, amazing, and sometimes frustrating. But if you take the time to research—which is something I didn’t do when I published Mirror In The Forest Book One—then you’ll discover just how crazy it is, but oh so rewarding.
Before I go to my new list, I had a very good friend of mine message me last week. She’s tired of Corporate America and is 2/3 of the way done her first book. I called her and we talked for over an hour. I gave her website and authors who have given stellar advice in the publishing world. I told her about my mistakes and what I’ve learned since publishing Mirror In The Forest Book One in May 2015.
She’s thinking about shopping for a literary agent, and that’s great, but I told her she needed to start her platform now, as in yesterday to even have a literary agent give her a second look.
I hope she follows my advice. I hope she follows the recommendations I gave her because I want her to succeed. I want her to avoid the mistakes I made when I first published because it’s taking time for me to pick up the pieces.
I’m just being honest about my struggles in this industry. Just like my books, I don’t paint pretty pictures. I paint realistic ones.
In light of that, this past month has been the best month I’ve ever had with House Of The Golden Butterfly. Thank you all so much! My Kindle Unlimited reads just surpassed 10,000 pages. That’s the most I’ve ever gotten.
Onto the list.
1. You must build your brand. My friend and author S.E. Isaac is doing a stellar job building her brand. She writes romance and erotica. She promotes other authors. She keeps a presence on social media, she does giveaways and she posts different kinds of content. I could go on and on about how she is aggressive with her books. I could take some lessons from her. She doesn’t spam, she promotes. That is how you build your brand. I struggle with it because my day job keeps me from promoting all the time, but since I’m changing my brand and venturing into the horror world, I promised myself to stop worrying about what others think of my promotions and go for it.
2. Your first draft will be crap. It just is. What do you think editing is for? Let the manuscript rest after it’s finished. Stephen King recommends 6 weeks. I kind of agree with that, but then again, I’m impatient and can’t wait that long. I’m still on the fence about how long I’ll sit on Shadow Town after it’s finished. It depends on how long it takes me to write it. But if you want to see your manuscript with fresh eyes, wait. Put it out of sight and out of mind and then pick it up and read it again. Believe me, those mistakes will jump out at you.
3. Writing? That is only a small piece of the pie. Writing the book is the easy part. Whether it takes you 1 month or ten years, that’s the easy part. Usually, I take about 3 to 4 months to write my first draft. Then it takes me another 8-9 week for the edits. While I’m doing that, I’m promoting it, doing the book cover, and contacting promotional sites. Then I send it out for beta reads and fix the mistakes again, that’s another 3-6 weeks.
4. At some point, you have to stop. You can edit until your face turns blue. It will never be perfect in your eyes no matter how many compliments you receive. At some point, you have to let it go and move on to pushing that publishing button.
5. It’s OK to want to make money. I am so sick of the starving artist mantra. Yes, you love writing. It’s your art. It’s your way of expressing yourself through words, but if you want to self-publish you have to want to make money. Your literary fiction isn’t going to make money. That is horrible to type, I know, but it’s the reality. Learn what the trends are and write to the market. Who says you won’t enjoy these writing these particular stories? You might discover something within yourself that you never knew you liked.
6. It’s not about you, it’s about your readers. I thought I had enough knowledge and expertise to write a book. Uh, no, I don’t. I was pretty surprised at how much research I had to do to get the facts on my books right. For example, in Margo’s Lullaby, I studied the Columbine shootings for a year. Yes, you read that right. It was a year before I sat down to write the book. There was so much I didn’t know about what went on in the investigation, how Sue Klebold and the Harrises were treated after Eric and Dylan killed themselves. I was writing it from the point of view. I am now more knowledgeable and a defender of Sue Klebold and her family when other people put her down. It really changed my perspective on the shootings and what drove Eric and Dylan over the edge.
With that in mind, I wanted to make sure that my readers understood my sympathies towards the shooter’s families and make sure they knew why Margo shot 5 people in her school and how her sister suffered from PTSD over the years.
7. Self-publishing is not a quick and easy way to make money. Yes, you have to want to make money, but… Despite what some scammers tell you. It’s not the case. If you do everything legally and properly this journey may take a while to bring in a decent income, and even then it’s not guaranteed. Keep that in mind and you’ll be happier.