Have you ever read a parenting book by a so-called expert and you think to yourself – there’s no way this person actually has kids? Sometimes the advice is so unrealistic you want to throw the book down in disgust.
I find myself feeling that way about certain advice for self-published writers.
Look. Self-published writers are real people. We are real people with real jobs, real families, and we often have really limited budgets. Every day when I turn on the news I’m reminded that I am far from alone in feeling this economic crunch, and even talking to non-writer friends I’m reminded that we all feel time pressure when it comes to taking care of our families.
Let’s do a little reality check on some of the conventional advice that’s offered to self-published writers.
THE BEST WAY TO SUCCEED IS TO WRITE AT LEAST 2-3 BOOKS A YEAR.
Reality check – Unless your last name is Gates, Kardashian, or you are otherwise anonymously yet fabulously wealthy, you’re likely working a 40-hour-workweek. Throw in a bad commute and your writing hands are tied up for most of your day – and most of your life. Maybe you don’t get a chance to write every day because you’re just plain exhausted from working so much and you really beat yourself up about it.
Wannabe Pride’s Don’t Despair Tip– You’re not a terrible person if you can’t write every day. Making enough money to put food on the table and a roof over your head is essential. Like it or not, that must come first. It’s only natural that, after working all day, it can be hard to squeeze in enough time to work on your dream. Keep in mind – that, too, is essential. It’s essential for your peace of mind to carve out any time, no matter how small, to keep your dream alive and to stave off the soul-suckingness of having to work so hard to make somebody else rich. Even if it’s 20 minutes, grab that time. You’ll feel so much better if you get something – ANYTHING – accomplished. It’s not a damn race. Focus on one book, one chapter, one sentence at a time. Eventually, there will be a book – YOUR book – where there were once blank pages.
PUBLISH AS MANY BOOKS AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN
Reality check– Have you become independently wealthy since you read the first tip? I didn’t think so. It costs MONEY to publish books, even eBooks. You have to scrape together the money for an editor, a cover artist, a formatter, and so forth. Personally, I find it endlessly frustrating – heartbreaking, really – to toil for months to finally complete a book, only to have to wait many months more because I simply do not have the money to publish it. Times are very, very tough right now. The reality is, my work ethic is much more robust than my bank account.
Wannabe Pride’s Don’t Despair Tip– It is true that the faster you publish multiple books, the faster a success you may become. But life just doesn’t always work that way. You may not be able to publish a whole pile of books quickly, even if they’re already written. It’s hard to be patient, but do try. And however tempting it may be, DON’T cut corners. You really do need to pay an editor and make sure you have a good, quality book cover. Otherwise, you’ll look like an amateur. You’ve worked far too hard for far too long to let that happen. You’ll get there eventually, and it will mean so much more because you did it the right way.
PROMOTE YOUR BOOK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Reality Check– Like so many things in the self-publishing world, this is easier said than done. It is extremely difficult for a self-published author to break through, particularly when they only have one book out there in circulation. Promotion can include book bloggers (free) and advertising (still not independently wealthy here). There can be a high rejection rate for submissions to book bloggers due to the volume of requests they receive. Even if your book is accepted and reviewed, it’s debatable about how much good it will do you. Thus far, I’ve had three book bloggers give my book pretty good reviews, but it’s really had very little, if any, impact on my book sales. You can even get rejected for paid advertising! BookBub can be a wonderful resource with their paid email blasts which are sent directly to readers, but they accept only 20% of books submitted to them. So far, mine are not among them….
Wannabe Pride’s Don’t Despair Tip – Nobody can ever really predict which books will really take off and which ones won’t sell well. That goes for highly-publicized, traditionally-published books, too, so don’t despair if you really can’t get any high-profile publicity for your book. Free publicity, including smaller book bloggers, reader reviews, and social media posts (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+) all slowly but surely contribute to getting the word out about your work. Once again I say, it’s not a race. Just because it takes a long time to gather momentum and readers for your book doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen.
My best most heartfelt advice to other writers and to repeat to myself is DON’T GIVE UP. You can do it. I can do it. It’s hard to spend your days toiling for somebody else and it hurts when your bank account can’t keep up with all your hard work, heart, and perseverance. But you can and you will find a way to make it all work if being a writer is truly what you want.
Hang in there.
Find some way – ANY way – that works for you. As long as it results in you finishing that damn book and then sharing it with the world.
DO IT, and then be proud of the fact that it didn’t come easy, but you did it anyway.
– Linda Fausnet