When I took the plunge and became a self-published author, I thought to myself “How hard can this be?” I quickly found out being a self-published author can quickly become a full-time job, even if the pay isn’t quite there yet. The Hunter’s Son is live on Amazon (http://amzn.to/YawdEr) and I’m pretty happy with the finished product. These are eight things I learned right away that I wish I knew before I started:
1. Writing is Lots and Lots of Work- Being an author, whether self or traditionally published is a ton of work. Writing can become an afterthought if you are not careful. Blogging, tweeting, website maintenance, and general promotion can take up all your time. Be prepared to work hard, but in the end, it will pay off.
2. Please don’t make me read it again- I believe I have written a really fine novel and some solid short stories. However, there is a certain point where I simply cannot read them another time. During the novel writing process I think I read my entire manuscript at least fifteen times. I could quote passages word for word and began to get glassy eyed when I saw it on my screen. The thing that helped the most was taking long breaks from working on my novel during the revision process. This might mean a few days or a few weeks. Each time I came back I felt refreshed and found new things to enjoy about my writing.
3. Sometimes I have no clue how to use commas- Revisions are one of the most critical part of writing and probably the most boring part, particularly the edits after the final proof read. Professional editing services are a must and I have a great editor (shameless plug for http://bee-editing.com/) but spending hours on end placing punctuation can get old. My advice would be to pay close attention during your second draft process and don’t be afraid to read some things to brush up on grammar. There are plenty of great resources online you can look at (you can even use my errors from the post to help you out!).
4. People aren’t just going to buy my book because I think it is great- I never knew how much work promotion would be for my book. It is easy to think that you can put a book on Amazon or Smashwords and people will just buy it. At first this may happen when your friends and family snatch up the book right away, but those sales will dry up quickly. My biggest regret is not starting promotion before my book was finished. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
5. Everyone has a question for me- I never thought I would have to talk about my book so much. At first, I thought I was bugging people by talking about it so much, then I realized I was talking about it because everyone I ran into wanted to ask a question about it. Be prepared to answer “When did you write a book?” more than fifty times in the first month. At some point, this questions is going to be really cool and at some point this questions will get annoying. Just remember that most people are really proud to know an author because so many of them can’t imagine writing a whole book.
6. Everyone judges a book by its cover- Go to any online bookstore and imagine seeing a book with a terrible cover. Do you think the book contained within that cover is good? Do you think the person put a lot of time and effort into their writing? I was guilty of cheaping out on my cover when I first launched. I took my rudimentary skills in Adobe InDesign and thought my cover looked pretty sweet, until a few days passed and I started to hate what I had done to my good friend’s picture. Needless to say, a few dollars and a nice lady named Cheryl at http://www.ccrbookcoverdesign.com/ made me feel much better about my book. Unless you are a graphic designer, pay for a book cover. You will make your money back for the cover at some point, and, if you don’t, at least you don’t have to be embarrassed when you show your book to friends.
7. Self-published authors are the nicest people- Think the self-publishing word is scary? I used to until I met some pretty cool people who are doing alright for themselves in the self-publishing world. Everyone is more than willing to share their experiences and tips on how to sell books. The best part is, most of them don’t even charge for it. Since I published my book, I have been in touch with people from all over the world. Each and every one of them is more than happy to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to contact someone who has a good book. Twitter is a great place to do this. In fact, you can follow me @jewellbe. I would love to talk books, sports or anything you want.
8. I never knew I would smile so much over something I created- I felt proud when I finished my first novel. I know how proud my wife and parents were of me when I told them it was done, but what really stuck a smile on my face was seeing the finished product online. I have a book and it is for sale. I have sold books in the US, Japan, Germany, England and France. People in other countries thought my idea was good enough that they would spend money on it. That is a pretty great feeling. One I plan to have more and more in the future.
There are plenty of other things I have learned since I published my novel, The Hunter’s Son (which incidentally is available on Amazon http://amzn.to/YawdEr). Check it out if you are interested and let me know what you think. If you want to chat some more, reach me @jewellbe on Twitter or check out my blog (jewellbe.blogspot.com). Thanks for reading and best of luck in your pursuit of self-publishing glory.