This is the third chapter in an ongoing series following my indie publishing journey. You can read all posts by clicking here
When you approach something new, there’s always a steep learning curve. Whether it’s a new job, parenthood, or your first overseas travel adventure, and indie publishing is no different. In fact, I can see it’s not going to be just a steep learning curve, but the trajectory is going to be steep and long for quite a while yet. Why? Because there’s so much to learn, so many different avenues you can take and the landscape is continually changing and evolving.
Where I’m at, March 2019
Let’s start with where I’m at. Firstly, I’ve set a publication date, well, month. September. The latest draft of my manuscript is finally coming together. I’ve sent the first chapter out to my beta readers and received feedback adjusting the chapter accordingly, which has in turn, of course, had a flow-on effect to the story.
After a couple of weeks of rewriting, writing new words and cutting, pasting and rearranging, I am back on track. On a side note, I have no idea what authors of days gone by did when editing on typewriters, and am thankful for the advancements in modern technology!
Once this draft is done, there will be a final edit to catch any discrepancies, tighten character and plot, and ramp up emotion and ‘showing’. Then it will be off to the proofreader!
Mistakes so far
There’s been a few minor ones in terms of the writing, but that’s a learning process in itself. The biggest self-publishing mistake I’ve made to date is double-barreled.
Not deciding on a title sooner and not booking in my cover designer well in advance.
Who knew cover designers were busy right? Well, turns out they are. Very busy. My initial choice, a chap by the name of Stuart Bache who is well respected in both the traditional and indie models, is already taking bookings for 2020. Yes. 2020. Meaning 2019 is full. And it’s only March! Fortunately, I was able to ask around the indie interwebs and I was directed towards a lovely lady in the US of A but even her first available booking was August – and that was only for one cover – I need three!
I’ve learned it’s important to decide on your title as soon as possible and be brainstorming ideas for your cover. And then, book your cover designer in! It doesn’t matter if you aren’t sure exactly what you want – they are the experts and will guide you, but get it booked in!
So my failure to decide on a title and subsequently get onto my covers soon enough does affect my publication schedule. I still plan to publish in late September, but in reality, that date may have to be pushed out to October.
Needless to say, I have already forward booked my next covers!
What else I’ve learned
My main realisation this month is that indie-publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. Sounds cliche (because it is), but it’s true. You need to be super organised and be able to not only focus on the present but plan for what needs to be done in the future. It’s a rolling plan that involves multi-tasking and juggling many plates at the one time. (Note to self: buy whiteboard for planning).
Not one to dwell on my mistakes, I’ve now developed myself a writing and publishing check-list. Fortunately, the latest release from indie-author Adam Croft is called ‘The Indie Author Checklist’ – what timing! I downloaded the kindle book and combined what I already knew, what I’d learned from Mark Dawson, and now Adam’s advice and I’ve developed my own checklist. It won’t stop me from making future mistakes, but it will give me a long picture view of what needs to be done and when. And it’s something that no doubt I will tweak, amend and update as I move forward.
But, wait, there’s more.
Another revelation this month has been the fact that I need to move forward. I feel like I’ve been stuck in a holding pattern of write-edit-repeat for so long with my current manuscripts. And at this rate, I wonder if I’ll ever get anything out there.
The difference with being an indie author and a trad author is you don’t really have anyone to tell you when a book is ‘ready’. Sure you have your editor (or should) to help you with the structure and developmental phases, but you don’t have the publisher there to say, yes, it’s right to go! You could keep editing and rewriting forever and still not think the damn thing is ready. Which is one of the reasons I set the publication date.
And then I had a kind of light-bulb moment.
If any famous author looked back at their early books, they’d most likely cringe. I’ve heard authors say that each book is better than their last and that if they could, they’d go back and edit their early books or just plain erase them! That’s because writing – much like a muscle – is something you build slowly over time. With each book, I’ll become a better writer. Yes, I could sit here for the next ten years and keep writing manuscript after manuscript and not publish anything until I’d improved, but where would be the fun in that?
Instead, I’m going to make these first books the best they can be – right now. They will, of course, be edited, proofread and professionally formatted. They might even be okay stories. But they won’t be perfect, they won’t be brilliant, maybe they won’t even be great. At best, they will be good. And I’m okay with that. Because I know they will be done and I can keep writing and move forward with the next book and the next, and the one after that. And each one will be better than the last. And as a bonus, I’ll get better with the indie-publishing process too.
I want to do this for a very long time. I don’t dream of becoming a million dollar author, I just dream of making an average living out of something I love doing. Something I can do from anywhere in the world, and something I’ll not want to retire from. It’s a long haul, and I’m in for it.
I think this kind of sums things up, so I’ll leave you with this.