Self-publishing rocks. Self-publishing sucks.
Imagine a spectrum with these two opinions at each end of the scale. What phrase would fall in the middle?
For me, “self-publishing overwhelms” describes that spot between dancing the Snoopy dance and tearing out my hair.
Contrary to what some self-published authors say, they were not born knowing everything necessary to get their first book out in the world. Deciding on whether to go exclusively with Amazon or to go wide (Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.) left me paralyzed for several long minutes. During those moments when my eyes crossed, I found self-publishing did not rock.
Whatever the choice—go exclusive or go wide—that one decision forces action on several different matters, including, but not restricted to:
They don’t fall out of the sky.
Resolution: Find a good artist who understands your budgets. Get on her schedule, Synthesize mood, theme, story essence. State preferred color scheme, fonts, and layout. (All elements should “pop” and grab the reader immediately). Rocking from the sheer joy of taking giant steps toward publication, I found myself inching toward overwhelm.
But … there are new authors who design their own covers. (They probably also grow their own gardens, make their own clothes, and work for world peace. Satisfying their creative visual talent adds rhythm to the rock).
Warning: Most self-designed covers suck!
EMAIL READER LISTS
Email reader lists also don’t fall out of the sky. Building and using these lists strategically requires more decisions.
First, choose a service provider (Mailchimp, AWeber, MailerLite, and dozens of others range from free and to outrageously expensive).
Second, find the time to set up an account, create content, and schedule the first emails. Proficiency definitely pushes the overwhelmometer to sucks.
Promotion rears its Hydra-head very quickly—even before uploading the book. (If you’re serious, you hired a good editor and formatter to ensure your book’s contents are as professional as the cover). Overwhelmed yet?
Reviews play a part in promotion. Finding reviewers definitely sucks. They populate Amazon and various on-line spots like viruses populate computers. Many are just plain squirrely. Too many state in the last line of a long list of review reqs that they’re closed for three months. Or they state they’ll put your book on their pile of TBR-books and maybe/ maybe not review it. Some make promises to review and don’t. Or they write a scathing review attacking the mother who gave you birth.
Overwhelming, but realistic.
On the other hand, hundreds of reviewers take reviewing and helping authors seriously. They’re avid readers and avid reviewers. They are also hard to find. The hunt moves the meter toward self-publishing sucks.
Striving for fairness, some new authors undoubtedly have a reader network with people vying to review their new book. For them, self-publishing rocks.
Social media for many authors is already a part of their day-to-day life. But:
Using social media is a timesucker. Being online can quickly leave a new author exhausted and overwhelmed to levels of high anxiety. My anxiety increased as I joined FB groups. Many self-congratulatory members crowed how well they’d mastered ads on Facebook or AMS or Twitter or smoke signals. They took up the mantle of publishing guru and offered advice applicable to them but not necessarily helpful to newbies.
Social media is complex if you don’t already use it. (I. for example, swore I’d never, ever use FB. Uh-huh). Time, money, serious energy too often gets spent without much ROI. Enuf said.
Many other topics fall on the Rocks-Sucks Spectrum of Self-Publishing. As the cliché goes, the learning curve for most new authors is steep. A NY publisher pubbed my first two books so I thought I had an advantage to kick-start self-publishing. Then having two books published by a well-respected epublisher, I thought—mistakenly—that 95% of the time self-publishing would rock.
Naïve or dumb? Another spectrum, methinks.
I’ve touched on a few obstacles that challenged me in the beginning (2 years ago) and still test my patience, knowledge, and experience. Since I find writing rocks more than marketing, I recently hired a VA.
My overwhelm button now rarely swings from one extreme to the other.
What overwhelms you about self-publishing? Vent in the comments below!
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About the Author:
AB Plum grew up in Southern Missouri. She has lived in Mexico, Bolivia, and Argentina. Three novellas and three novels comprise her first series, THE MISfIT. Ever wonder about the twisted childhood of Hannibal Lector? Read the novellas and meet Michael Romanov—different, destructively different from birth.
You can find out more about her on her Twitter