It has now been almost a year since I self published my book Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: the Middle-ish Ages, sending it into cyber space, with no equipment, to mostly fend for itself. I discovered later on exactly how cruel that was. The thing is… I went about it all wrong. I wrote the book over the course of a couple summers off in the first few years I taught. Then it just hung out on my computer for a few more years.
My first mistake: Since I was a kid I had known I would write books. Most of the people around me when I was younger knew that was my dream as well. Then I grew up, moved a few times, started a new life, and I stopped talking to people about it because it wasn’t a practical way to make a living and I was writing less anyway. I don’t mind bragging or talking about myself on social media or in my blog, but in the real world, I’m an introvert and I don’t really know how to bring up stuff like this. Therefore, few people in my world had a clue that I wrote, let alone that it had been a lifelong dream to publish anything. Since nobody knew, nobody was there to encourage me. Not even my husband knew what this meant to me. You’ve got to tell people your dreams.
My second mistake: I felt like maybe as an adult I should forget holding onto childish dreams. Many people claim to be “writers,” but that doesn’t mean they’re any good at it, and I was so afraid of finding out I was in that category. I let go of my dream. It was easier than putting myself out there and getting hurt.
My third mistake: Impatience or desperation or cluelessness. I do not think I made a mistake in self publishing an ebook, but I do feel I should have known more about it and all my options first. I really wanted to publish my book with a “real” publishing firm and be able to smell its pages and hold it in my hands, but as I began to research the industry I was disheartened at how long it could take to see that happen and how the physical book publishing world seems to be changing so much that the odds of getting a book published that way seem even closer to impossible than they were previously. Nobody takes unsolicited manuscripts anymore; you must have an agent. The process of getting an agent is as time consuming and difficult as getting a publisher used to be, and then the agent must work on the publication submissions and rejections, and he or she gets a cut of whatever the writer makes, and the writer still has to do his or her own promoting. This whole process began to feel more and more hopeless, and I began to wonder who could get anything published these days.
That is when I began thinking more seriously of the ebook idea. At least I could get my book “out there.” It was doing no good to anyone just sitting on my computer, collecting virtual dust and reminding me of the dream I let die. With the exponential growth of technological advancements, it seemed like my only reasonable and timely chance. The thing with changing technology (which, by the way, is a big part of why the print publication industry is changing so rapidly now and becoming more difficult to navigate), is that ebooks are only now really catching on and the know how of it is still new. And so, I had no know how. I really didn’t have an inkling of where to begin and I only had my summer months off to figure it out, which is not much time in the grand scheme of things. I consulted a friend of mine who had self published her own ebook (Sarah Reckenwald and Flames in the Midst) and she was quite helpful and supportive, but she was still just learning too.
I felt the pressure of my quickly fading summer, as if the small spark of hope to revive my dream was again fading as well, and I just went for it. A week before I had to start back to school for my pre-planning week, I launched Memoirs onto Amazon’s Kindle, of which there is absolutely nothing wrong. The part that became my mistake, was that other than creating an author page on Facebook and spreading the word about my book via my own Facebook profile, I did little else. Remember, I never talked it up to anybody, so for most people I knew, it came out of nowhere. Also, I missed so many opportunities to hype it up ahead of time and to keep the excitement up because I did not know how to promote myself. I just wanted it up and hoped people would stumble across it because I knew it was awesome. But that is NOT how it works.
So now that I have no current day job, being a writer and a self promoter has become my day job, so I am taking a step back and learning more about putting myself out there. I’ve only just begun; there is much to learn, but I’m excited to do it. I will care for and nurture my book, and it will have a fresh chance.
I do get a decent following on my Facebook author page, considering I’ve done so little to promote myself. I just launched into the world of twitter as @DrewHotchner (my protagonist), and am looking into other places to publish Memoirs, including the possibility of doing a print on demand option since I tend to get some people who are still afraid of technology but do want to read the book. I’ll keep you all posted.