Let Me Tell You a Story #11: The Perils of Learning to Publish

Now that I’ve come down off the adrenaline rush of finishing a new draft and spending 70% of my “working” time yesterday chatting with my beta readers, I’ve had some time to unpack how I’m feeling about the current state of my writing.

I started 2015 with one writing goal: Have this novel self-published by the end of the year.  I had half a draft already from the previous summer, and I’m good at cranking out the word count.  I had the first full draft done in March and gave my readers til the first of May to get back to me.  I started the revision in the middle of May and had it done by early July.  I did the copy-edit in just under two weeks.

I spent the other 30% of my working time yesterday doing self-publishing research.  I looked into several book cover designers (since I enjoy messing around with Canva to mock up stuff, but those are not good enough by a long shot to actually use) and comparing different publishing platforms.  (At the moment I’m leaning toward CreateSpace, but it’s early yet and I could stand to do more digging.)

So much of the marketing around the self-publishing apparatus is designed to make potential authors feel safe and cozy and comfortable, to get them to say “Of course I can do this” and then turn around and spend money on services to make their work as “professional” as possible.  Now, to be clear:  I am not knocking people who invest money in their work up-front, either a little or a lot.  You need to spend money to make money is just as true here as in other business ventures.

But the slick polish on those services was overwhelming, leading to a slippery-slope argument in my head: if I’m going to spend the money to get a professionally-designed cover because I know I can’t do that myself, should I hire out a round of editing, too?  And so on.  The language the various sites used was such an odd mix of encouraging and condescending, but I could feel it sucking me in.

I guess I’m grateful that I have the awareness to step back and take a break from the research.  I gave my readers til the end of this month to get back to me, so whatever work this draft needs won’t happen for a while, and I do plan to look more into what I need to do when the time comes to let my story out into the wild, where people I don’t know could read it.  In the meantime, when I can’t face more marketing being thrown at me, I’ll try to settle on what project to start/pick back up next.  Because I’ve got a few irons in the fire, and a few more in my head that could be future irons.

But I’m struggling with the business end of the deal–a friend did advise me that becoming an independent author doesn’t just mean I’m a writer, but also a publisher, and that, I just don’t have a handle on yet.  I’m intimidated by all the things I don’t know, and more than a little afraid I’ll mess it up.

I’m also coming to understand that as hard as I’m working, I might not have this done by 2016 like I planned.  I honestly didn’t know when I tackled this journey just how difficult it would be, at times, so I’m trying not to view that as a failure.  The carrot on the end of my stick is not meeting the deadline I set myself, but putting out the best book I can.  I’m impatient to have something out there to talk about–marketing myself as a writer without anything tangible to my name is grueling, and sometimes pointless–but having my first novel be a flop would be even worse.

I needed to get that off my chest.  Thanks for listening.

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