2006 was such a great year for me. I found a publisher willing to take my debut novel, Autumn Violets, and release it into the wilds of the literary world. I still remember that feeling I had the day the package arrived. My husband had intercepted it and picked me up at work. We went down to this great little coffee shop near our house and he just couldn’t stop smiling. When we finally took our order to a table to sit, he produced the package from behind his back. I noticed where it had come from and, with trembling fingers, I opened it and slid out the first copy of my first book.
Now, seven years later (plus a couple of months) I have four books under my belt. The difference is, I’m doing this all on my own.
Sure, after my old publisher had shut down I spent about three years trying to find my work a new home, but, as everyone associated with this industry knows, that’s really hard to do. In the meantime I was still writing. I had finished another book and was closing in on finishing my third. I wanted to keep Autumn Violets ‘out there’ but I had no idea what I was doing.
Self publishing is hard to navigate. Oh sure, I could have gone with iUniverse, the in-house self publishing label for Chapters/Indigo, but I couldn’t afford it. Also, everything I had read while researching self publishing said that if you’re being charged up front, you should really be cautious, and while I know Indigo is a reputable company, I still couldn’t afford upwards of $800-900 per book.
Then I found out about Createspace. User friendly and not expensive. In fact, I only ever pay for copies I personally want, unless I decide to pay for some additional services with them. So I hooked myself up with an account and lo and behold, the books were available once again!
But, the hardest part was yet to come.
I gave away some copies to bloggers I know, and yes, I got some great feedback. Shauna Glenn and Brittany Gibbons even gave me quotes to use for the covers or for promotions! I even got to sit down with the amazing Kelley Armstrong one day and pick her brain for about an hour and a half. The thing is, even with this great support, it was really hard to self promote (and still is) without coming across as either in-your-face about it or whiny.
I still try to come up with fun ways to get people to know me as an author, like the promotion/giveaway I’m running this week, but it’s not always easy. It’s also a great big blow to your self esteem as a writer when things don’t take off the way you want them to. But, along with a great many other issues, I’m learning to deal with that without dipping into feelings of deeper self loathing.
The long and the short of it is, (as has been stated by many a smarter bookie than I) this is a marathon, not a sprint. Yeah, it sucks when you go on a querying binge with agents and they tell you you’re great…but not great enough. Or they just don’t respond and you spend three months or more on tenderhooks. And yeah, it’s no fun when you hear of other self-pub’s you know hitting decent numbers with their books and you wonder what in the hell am I doing so differently??
But, then you get a message, or a tweet, or a post from someone who has read your book and liked it and once again you’re the blushing girl in high school who the cute boy just winked at.
So, I guess my journey as a self pub has been, in the long run, a good one. It’s taught me, by necessity, to be more patient, to set my goals more reasonably and not to crumble into a pile of shivering, self loathing goo when things don’t go exactly how I envision them. It’s a slow journey. But damn, the scenery from here is amazing.
Especially when I take the time to notice.