I can’t believe that it’s coming up on one year since I self-published A Ghost in the Attic. This year, I will unleash Feasters: An Apocalyptic Tale. It’s been one wild and crazy ride, but one that has been immensely satisfying. I’ve learned so much along the way. This post will focus on just three things I’ve learned during my journey since publishing A Ghost in the Attic.
It is okay to give yourself a victory lap For those of you know anything about my road to getting A Ghost in the Attic into reader’s hands, you know it was a long journey. It wasn’t because I was writing the next great American novel. Far from it! A Ghost in the Attic sat in a moving box for years and years. Twenty to be exact! It was written in a time where there was no cloud in which to upload it. CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT? In addition, it was originally written in third person. Someone much more knowledgeable than me read it and suggested it would read better in first person. I listened and rewrote the entire thing in the first person. It was awesome advice! Besides not really knowing the process of getting published, the real reason why this book took so long to publish is because of my own insecurities. I’ve always loved storytelling, but truth be told, I wasn’t a great student in school, especially in English. Then, when I got to college, I took a creative writing class. Halfway through the semester of my freshman year, I turned in a story I was particularly proud of. I waited the better part of two weeks expecting positive feedback. It was then I received a gut punch in a conference with my professor. She told me that it would likely be best that I choose a career that didn’t involve writing words. OUCH! Right? I forged on and wrote A Ghost in the Attic, but never did I think I would have the guts to publish it. I’m so glad I did. Wait, I’m not just glad. I’m proud of myself! I know that it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s mine. People who have read it seem to enjoy it too. I have no problem giving myself an atta boy. If you have overcome something similar or completely different on your journey, and you know in your heart that it is worth celebrating, then put that hand up and give me a high five! I’m proud of us!
There’s a lot of help out there! Use it! When I was researching what to do and how to get self-published, I did what most people do. Go on YouTube! Holy cow! There’s tons of information on there, and it really is overwhelming! Everyone seems to be an expert and are rich off the books they’ve published on Amazon. First of all, if you are writing to get rich, you are probably going into it for the wrong reasons. Newbies, like us, aren’t going to get much notice with our first or second book. I’m not going to lie, I do hope one day to become financially independent and critically acclaimed from my books. But, that’s not my driving reason to write. I write because I love to make stuff up! Isn’t it true for all of us who write fiction? Okay, sorry. Back to YouTube. After deciphering through all the get rich schemes and stuff, I found a few who really had some great information to assist in my journey. These YouTubers certainly talked about the amount of money to be made and how they got rich, but they also had some really solid advice for first (even second and third) timers. These people have solid information about publishing, formatting, and marketing. I really leaned on them whenever I had a question or got stuck with the process. The ones that I followed were Self-Publishing with Daleand Emeka Ossai. These two guys have made gobs of money off their books and YouTube channel (although, I didn’t ask for their official paystubs). They really have a wealth of knowledge and their videos are really engaging! I highly recommend checking them out! YouTube wasn’t the only place to find help, social media is a great place, especially Twitter. I used to think Twitter was for celebrities and political conversations, but once I got the hang of it and hash-tagged the correct words, I found a bunch of people just like me. There are varying degrees of experience and knowledge. Tweeting a question usually gets you the answer and you find that others have the same question. Don’t be discouraged by others who get more engagement (some of it may not be organic). Instead, jump into the conversations, like comments, and follow, follow, follow. You’d be surprised how quickly you can get a following and get your questions answered. As an added bonus, you will find others that you build rapport with. Some of the more useful hashtags I’ve used are #WritingCommunity, #amwriting, and #indieauthors.
Embrace Your Indieness Most of the people I have talked to on social media or in person tend to embrace the idea that indie authors are real authors and should be regarded as such. On the other hand, there are small pockets of people who resist this, and man, they are vocal. Don’tcha love social media? Honestly, I really struggled with this for awhile. Was being accepted by a literary agent really the difference between considering myself an author or not? I’ve read posts from people either celebrating their successes or bemoaning their perceived failures. Authors talk about yet another rejection by a literary agent who didn’t think their work was good enough. Or, someone would post that finally, after years of trying, they’ve been accepted! To that I say kudos! But, this circus of hoops just doesn’t work for me. I simply don’t have the time to write a query letter, work on my elevator pitch, etc. I’m a teacher, husband, father, dance dad, etc. The path to getting published the traditional way has become so stinking difficult. While others are struggling to get noticed, I know that I’ve already published a book and have another on the way. My books aren’t best sellers, but I’ve had enough positive feedback from readers. Isn’t that what the true measuring stick should be? It Isn't some suit in an office making decisions based on what they like or the latest trends. Being indie is frustratingly awesome. I am literally in charge of everything: editing, cover, marketing, and guest appearance and book signings. It’s maddening because it’s hard to know where to begin. But, as you trudge through, you will find there are great resources. My two favorites have been Fiverr and Upwork. There are tons of freelancers who will get your project looking just how you want it. I’ve found editors, formatters, and book cover designers as well as people who will promote your book and even put together a book trailer. This process has been amazing. I am the literary agent and the publishing house. I make the decisions on what’s best for my book. It’s a lot of work, but my book is worth it.
Whatever path you choose, just know that you are good enough. Whether it’s traditional or independent publishing. We are all authors. Some of us make stuff up while others write self-help books. It doesn’t matter. Support each other. Learn and share. Keep on rocking!