I recently read this blog about the “10 things authors have to learn the hard way…”. It made me think. My first novel was published with a traditional publisher in 1996. By 2001, I had decided to make the jump to independent publishing and I have looked back since.
That doesn’t mean it has been easy. Far from it. Luckily, the independent publishing world is a community that is willing to help each other out. I’ve try to be open to new ideas that I’m not trying and evaluate whether they work for me. When I have questions, I can usually find someone willing to share their knowledge with me. I try to reciprocate when the opportunity arises.
So here’s my list of the things I had to learn the hard way. Some are the same as the other blog, but I’ve included my experience with them.
No one but you cares as much about your book
I considered the traditional publisher I was first published with pretty good. I didn’t have any complaints at the time and my books seemed to sell well. Looking back now, I see there are so many things I could have done to make the book even more successful. I was new to publishing, though. I didn’t know about some of the things I could have done and my publisher didn’t suggest them. When I became an independent author, I found myself on the lookout for ways to make my book better whether it was writing, production, or marketing. No one has as much invested in your book as you and no one should want to see it succeed more than you. Unfortuneately, the way I’ve seen this play out sometimes is that the author is unbending in believing that anyone could help them improve their book. If you want what’s best for your book, sometimes that means getting help from other experts.
Traditional publishing is not better than self-publishing
When I started independent publishing, there a definite stigma to it. Despite this, I still considered it the best way to go my first project. I’ve seen that stigma slowly vanish, though. That’s because the quality of indepently published projects has gotten better and better. I used to be hesitant to say that I was independently published, but it no longer bothers me because it shouldn’t.
You’ve got to step outside your comfort zone
Many writers are introverts. So am I. I would rather spend my days writing, but I’ve learned about half of my time needs to be dedicated to marketing and administration. I do it because it needs to be done. I was pretty eager with my first project and did a lot of marketing, which helped the book. With my second book, I didn’t do as much marketing for reasons I can’t remember and the sales of that book reflected it.
Success is not guaranteed
I love reading the case studies about people succeeding in publishing. I even try to duplicate some of the things they do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I certainly haven’t achieved the level of success that they have. I have become successful, though. My income continues to grow and I grow more comfortable with what I’m doing.
While success is not guaranteed, persistence increases your chances
As my income grows and my comfort level increases with what I’m doing, I find that I’m more willing to put myself out there and develop new approaches to writing and marketing. With traditional publishing, there’s a strong tendency to make a big splash quick before the publisher’s marketing attention moves on. With independent publishing, you can continue to market your old titles as well as your new ones and build you audience.