Writing & Self-Publishing: Lessons Learned
Flight Plan hits print-on-page September 30. Trees will once again die for my imperfect art. Yes, I know, I published an ebook edition in December 2013, but that was then, and this is now. This is paperback. I incorporated reader suggestions, revised details and re-edited. I doubt most people would notice the changes (other than the typo fixes) but I know they're there. My second-born brainbaby will become be a Real Book at last. Pinocchio, eat your heart out.
What's that? That's the wrong way to go about self-publishing a book? All that revision work should have been done before publication? Oh, and I should have put out print and ebook simultaneously, not to mention promoting the release for months beforehand, after building up a fanbase through social media? Well, yes. You're right. Over the last 9 months, I've learned that I do pretty much everything wrong that possibly can be done wrong when it comes to self-publishing, according to The Experts.
For some inexplicable reason, this makes me feel proud, rather than ashamed of my failure. Live and learn, to me means Do it, and see what happens. My inner toddler and I, we're on excellent terms. She is fearless. I am not. Sometimes, I am wise enough to let the toddler lead. I never would have learned how publishing works if I hadn't gone ahead and done it, stumbling my way through the process and learning how to stand by falling. By e-publishing first, only pixels were punished for my sins.
Plus, let's be honest, my books wouldn't leap off the shelves even if I aced every aspect of their presentation. I am indescribably proud of my brainbabies, but I am not blind to their flaws. My stories were not designed for commercial or literary success. They aren't instantly appealing. They're not catchy, pithy, erotic, or action-packed. They're possibly stories that only their mother will love.
I may never sell another copy of either book. Having them run free in the world is still better than forcing them to live out their lives in the lonely splendor of my computer. They're out there to be discovered. That's something. It may be everything. It's enough.
I am grateful to everyone who's stuck with me through this amazing learning experience, and humbled by the encouragement I've received from those who discovered me through my work. I do hope to reach one or two more readers for my quirky optimistic take on a gritty, downbeat dystopian future. I'll keep plugging away at writing and sharing in my own exploratory, erratic, eccentric, stubborn way.
And hey, you know what? You know a Real Author. You have bragging rights. Tell friends, enemies and total strangers about my fabulous books and your favorite characters. That's the biggest lesson I've learned: readers are the ones who make the magic. I can bring words to life, but readers are the reason they live and breathe.