A little over a year ago, in February of 2014, I decided that I was “finally gonna self-publish that book.” If you look back in the annals of my personal Facebook posts, you’ll see I was dorking around with this idea for a number of years. But at the time, I was going through some shit, and I decided to “just do it and see what happened.”
16 months, 3 published books, 2 short stories, 800 paperbacks, 5,000 ebook sales, 17 conventions, 1 publishing company LLC later…
Now that I’ve been doing this for “a while,” people have started to flock for advice. Things like paperback distributors and how to do conventions. I’ve begun repeating myself when people ask for advice on social media, since everyone seems to have the same questions.
So in the absence of having any books to promote (*pause for cheering*), I thought I’d “give back” a little and write a blog series on The Business of Indie Publishing. This series will be eight or nine weeks and cover some of my experiences working in this business.
If you have anything in particular that you’re curious about, either send me an email and request a topic, or join me on Tuesdays at 3pm EST for #IndieBusChat. I’ll be hanging around and talking about the topic of the week.
And what is this week’s topic?
Well if you missed the pretty graphic above, this week’s focus is the very first thing any author should do when considering how to publish their book (Yes, this also concerns you crazy traditional publication kids, too). You want to set an intention.
If you have never practiced yoga (and if you haven’t, highly recommended), most yogis start by deciding what they want to get out of their practice. Whether it be to stretch a little deeper, find a little more meditative peace in the face of difficulty, or some even dedicate their practice to a person who is suffering. The idea is that when the practice gets tough and your muscles are sweating and trembling that you’ll return to your intention to find peace.
“How in God’s name does that yoga bullshit have anything to do with publishing my hot, erotic novel about a werewolf billionaire playboy who falls for an angel?”
(Side note: Idea for the next bestseller…)
One of the most common questions I see from unpublished writers is “Should I go self-published, small press, or traditional?” And you’ll get the trad-pub camp saying to join their team, and the self-pub camp saying to join their team, and the poor small press camp is trying to wave their hand and say, “Hey, I’m pretty good too.” Then the trad pub and the self-pub start calling each other names (“You’re too rigid for me, old man!” “Self-pub is full of amateurs!”) and all that serves to do is piss everyone off. Because neither the trad camp or the self-pub camp or even the small press camp can tell you what you need to know. Only you can.
Because before you do anything, you need to ask yourself what does it mean to be “published” to you.
Let me highlight that.
Everyone comes to the table with different life experiences, different expectations, and different ideas of what success means. So in order to figure out which path is right for you, defining success of that path is key.
For example, if you just have one magnum opus that is the only book that you will ever write in your entire life, your definition of success is going to be different than someone who is planning to write 20 or so books in their career. And so your path will differ significantly.
Similarly, your intention doesn’t have to be the same one you started with, either. For me, I just said, “Let’s see what happens.” After a few months, my intention turned into, “Let’s turn this into a profitable business that can support me.” Not everyone will choose that path, but that is what works for me.
In order to be successful, you have to know where success lies. Understanding and articulating your own goals will not only help you see clearly, but will help be a compass when the business gets tough.
And trust and believe: this business is tough.
Come back next week and I’ll talk a little bit about my process for getting a book from brain to paperback. And don’t forget to join me tomorrow, Tuesday June 16th, for the twitter chat on setting your intention.