I’ve come to the conclusion every writer needs to self-publish at least one of their books. That’s a cringe worthy statement for those who haven’t quite embraced self-publishing, but I believe it’s true. Self-publishing is challenging, heart-wrenching, confusing, and hard work.
Most authors are familiar with the hard work portion of writing. Crafting irresistible hooks and realistic dialog requires effort. An indie author, however, experiences another level of hard work, and in some ways, harder than traditionally published authors.
Now this post isn’t about us vs. them. That gets us, the writing community, nowhere. I’m not interested in belittling traditionally published authors or others who do want to go that route. I can’t because my publishing dreams include traditional and indie books. I am, however, saying that indie publishing is a different kind of tough.
There are several differences in the tough for indie authors. For traditionally published authors, the publishing house will ask for suggestions for the marketing plan. For indie authors, you come up with the plan, approve it and execute it. Same with promotion. Both traditional and indie authors need a good editor. The different kind of tough for indie authors is that we have to find one ourselves. We also have to look for a cover artist, give direction on how the cover should look and approve the final version.
The point is that indie authors are responsible for the whole book process. Again, not to minimize the struggles of traditionally published authors, just saying it’s different. Indie publishing requires time and effort beyond turning in a manuscript to a publishing house and moving on the next book. Indie authors are solely responsible for the whole process, the creative and the business side.
Those two sides are exactly why I think every author should self-publish. When you are responsible for everything, you develop a great respect for your work and for all the pieces that make it great. You want your book to be the best it can be because you have invested many hours of frustration, education and tears into it. As an indie author, you fully own the responsibility of putting out a great book. The sole responsibility adds gravity to the process of writing and producing a book. And when you realize the weight of that responsibility, you approach the process of publishing very differently than you have before.
You learn your craft because no one in their right mind would go through the process of self-publishing only to have you book fail because of bad writing. Or bad cover art. You market your book, run great giveaways because you’ve invested in this book. You intimately know what it takes to bring the whole product together. You learn to respect your gift. It’s really hard to be flip about your writing when you understand ALL that goes into publishing a book.
I am now working on the sequel to my first self-published book, and my approach is totally different than it was for the first one. Gone are my pie-in-the-sky, emotional responses to seeing my name in print. I am much more serious about this one than the last one. Not to the point of taking the fun out of it, but I respect the process more. I wouldn’t have learned any of this if I hadn’t lived through the different kind of tough of self-publishing.