Ten years ago I dreamed of being published the traditional way. Vanity publishing aside, it was the only option available. With the ink still wet on my contract with a London literary agent, I was full of optimism.
The Flower Seller came close to securing a deal, but ultimately I lost the slot to other more established authors or the money men shook their heads.
Then I read Self-Printed The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard and decided to leap into the unknown.
Why I Went Indie
It wasn’t a decision I took lightly. Burning bridges is never pleasant. But I knew it was the right decision. How much longer did I wait for a trad deal? What if it never came? Better to regret the things that I have done than to regret the things I never had the courage to try. And so I began my journey through the dark forest of self-publishing. It was an unfamiliar and scary place full of traps for the unwary.
I plunged into a whirlwind of new activity. There were so many new terms to learn, new skills to acquire, so much knowledge to soak up and retain.
What have I discovered on the way? That the self-publishing community is a friendly and encouraging group of people. I have found the Alliance of Independent Authors phenomenally supportive and informative. The blogs and articles so generously written by ALLi’s contributors have been invaluable to a newbie like me. As has the sage advice given by, amongst others, Catherine Ryan Howard, David Gaughran, Joel Friedlander, Kristen Lamb and Joanna Penn (all good friends and advocates of ALLi).
Paying It Forward
They have all provided candles to light my journey and I am grateful for their generosity of spirit in sharing their knowledge. I hope the advice given below will, in turn, help someone about to start their own journey. I’d like to paying it forward as the saying goes.
- Make your book the best version it can be. Don’t give in to the temptation to rush to publication too early. Hire an editor and a proofreader.
- Take time and trouble over your cover. Never underestimate the power of that thumbnail-sized jpeg on the Kindle screen.
- Make a note of useful information in an orderly fashion. I became swamped by so much valid advice that it became too hard to take in.
- You don’t have to learn everything at once, and the world won’t end if you make a mistake.
- Plan, plan and plan some more. Countries have been invaded with less planning than this project will take! There are so many facets of self-publishing that need your attention, not least the building of a social media platform.
- There is never enough time.
- Be patient with yourself. It’s better to do one thing well than ten badly but don’t be so hidebound by perfection that you never complete anything.
- Believe in yourself and your ability to see the project through to completion. There have been times when I have likened self-publishing to fighting the Hydra. As soon as I cut off one head two more spring up in its place!
- There is never enough time. Did I mention that?!
- Try to celebrate the successes you have along the way like the first time you see your finished cover. Little pick-me-ups like that keep you going.
Does it get easier? Yes, which is just as well because with the mantra of ‘Write, publish, repeat’ ringing in my ears it will soon be time to do it all again.
By Ellie Holmes, The Alliance of Independent Authors’ Blog