My Self-Publishing Adventure – Episode Eight – Self-Publishing is Too Easy
“What?” I hear all the other writers shout. “It is most certainly not easy! Not only do you have to write, you also have to edit, revise, work with the cover artist and editor, maintain a web presence, build a platform, get reviews, market… Then, there is the cost! You have to fund everything. After all, if you have chosen the self-publishing path, you probably do not have an agent or traditional publisher to help with any of this. You have to do it yourself.”
Yes. This is all true. My point is that it is too easy to publish your book before you have adequately done these things. I know. I did.
My primary motivation for writing is to create books I would like to read. My main qualification for doing so when I began was limited to having read many books and believing I had a good idea of what I liked about them. If you find yourself in the same situation, let me warn you. This is not enough. Thinking you can write a great novel simply because you read a lot of them is like thinking you can build a car because you have done a lot of driving. It does not work that way.
Writing is something you have to learn, just like any other skill. There are tools and processes, procedures and steps you have to take to produce a novel. Unfortunately, these vary from writer to writer. You can learn from the experiences of others but creating a novel is not a science. It is an art. I do not mean to sound pretentious about this, but writing is a very individual experience. What works for one person may not for another. It is not as simple as being a “plotter” or a “pantser.” The only way to find out what works for you is to write, and then write some more.
This takes time. It takes practice. The first novel you complete will not be ready to publish. Nor will the second, if your experience is like mine. The problem is that you will probably think they are and, because it is so easy to self-publish an e-book on Amazon and Smashwords, you will. Your first two books may be great stories but they will not be the best you can produce.
I am about to sound pretentious again, but if you read a lot, you are most likely a fairly intelligent and well-informed person. If you are motivated to write, chances are you are creative. If you act on that desire and actually create the first draft of a novel, you are definitely someone who can remain focused and see a difficult and complicated task to completion. This may make you think your book is ready. After all, you wrote it and we have already established how exceptional you are.
Compared to many, this is true, at least as far as novels go. It does not make you a potential surgeon or plumber, but it does make you a potential novelist. Keep in mind that there are tens of thousands of us and we all share the same attributes that qualify you as a member of this group. Pat yourself on the back but do not think this means your first book is ready. When you think it is, my advice is to put it aside and write the next. When you are done with that, write another. Now go back to your first book. Edit and revise it again using all of the experience you have gained since. It may be ready to show to others at this point but it is still not ready to publish. It is time to get professional help. (Take that any way you want.)
What I think I have learned is that my own judgment is not enough. I mistakenly thought that knowing a good book when I saw it made me qualified to create one on my own. I was not. My artistic abilities to create covers are inadequate so I need a cover artist. I need an editor. I need beta readers. I need proofreaders. In short, I need all of the things a traditional publisher provides if I want my books to be as good as they can be.
I am basing the advice I offer here on my own experience, of course. Feel free to ignore it. As I said, writing is an art. You may be a quicker study than I am. You may have stronger qualifications. Personally, I do not feel I became minimally qualified to produce a book ready for publication until after I completed the first draft of my third novel. Something clicked at that point and I realized how many things I could have done better with the first two, things that would have improved the stories and made the process easier. This does not make me an expert but it does make me more confident that I am ready to take the next step on my self-publishing adventure.