The Long Road: The Truth About Self-Publishing

man banging his head against a wall

Are you ready to hear the truth?

Are you sure?

It’s quite simple. For many of us writers out there, the only way we are going to see our work in print is through self-publishing. The problem is that only a few of us writers out there are suited to the rigors of self-publishing.

This is not saying that there aren’t any good self-published books out there. Anyone who’s read one of my book reviews will know that there are plenty of brilliant and exciting authors writing some really special stuff.

Regular readers and followers will know that I published my novel, The Changeling King through Lulu last year to bring into print for the first time. I’ve also used Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing to bring my work to the ebook market. Overall, the experience and simplicity of the systems put in place by Lulu, Kindle and Smashwords make it easy and almost enjoyable to get your book into the public sphere.  But then comes the hard part. Marketing and Publicity. Organizing book launches, guest  blogs, radio appearances and interviews is a time-consuming and laborious job, and in the end may not generate the kind of sales you are hoping for.  Lulu offer several packages to help get your book further, including availability in Barnes and Noble and Ingrams. Social media is also supposed to be the magic wand for building a platform. But again this doesn’t necessarily translate into book sales. The main reason being that it just isn’t enough.

The kind of person that succeeds at this kind of thing needs to be committed to ring up bookshops and being willing to travel (out-of-pocket) across the country, convince schools, groups and libraries to play host to you so that you can talk to the end-user and make them aware of your work, but again, the truth is that most of us don’t have that kind of energy, and most definitely, that kind of time and money to be able to afford that kind of availability. Most of us have families. mortgages, bills that require us to have a day job, and day jobs can be very demanding and require a lot of your mental energy. Ultimately, what I found was that it was taking me away from doing what I enjoy . . . writing.

So my advice . . . stick to what you do best; write. Build your platform by writing lots of short stories and getting them into magazines (online and print), anthologies and competitions. Keep polishing your novels and studying the art of writing. I seriously suggest subscribing to David Farland’s Daily Kick for his unique insight into the life and skills of a writer. Read Stephen Kings book On Writing. Buy reference books and do your background research. Then one day, maybe, an editor will pick up your manuscript and say, “hey this author can really write,” or “wow, where do I know this name from?”

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