It was time!
These three words can turn around a life in a million different ways. This is how I can best describe my fast-track journey from being a poet to being a published poet.
It would be wrong to say I had never thought about getting my work published. Who wouldn’t? I had often dreamed of my books on bedside tables, the custodians of the last words that someone would read before ending their day… yet, in a way, it happened, all without thinking. I was looking at a poetry book on Amazon, and I thought, why not me! And the decision to self-publish was made. Just like that.
Then came the difficult part, the steep, uphill learning curve, as I set about reading whatever I could find online about self-publishing. It was going to be a DIY creation, from the beginning till the end, not just to save on costs, but because it was a labour of love, and I didn’t want any kind of interference in my vision, however well-meaning it was. It was my baby, and it would remain mine, faults and all.
There was not only a lot to learn, but also a lot of decisions to be made, things I had never realised would take so much time and effort, things like what platforms to choose for publishing my book, whether to publish under my pen name or my real name, (which, I must say, was the most agonising decision of all!), what formats, DRM or no DRM…and on and on it went, sounding like a lot of gibberish to me, until I finally had it all sorted out.
Selecting the material was the easier part. That was known turf, a place where I was in my element, creating words from feelings. And the book was written, named, edited and re-edited until it finally became a reality. And I finally became a proud author with my debut book, “Unrequited”.
However, the story does not end there, in fact, it was just the beginning of a new and ongoing role that I needed to assume, and tackle (in my opinion) the toughest task, the marketing of the newly published book. As an Indie Author, I became a graphic designer, a photographer, an editor and proof-reader, a marketing executive, a social media manager… in the end, I was looking for the poet in me. At times, I am still looking…
My advice to aspiring indie authors- don’t expect things to be easy. They are not. You will make many mistakes. You will stumble and fall, but you have to be ready to pick yourself up and go on. You have to be ready to put in endless hours of work and the reward might not seem enough. Unless you are very lucky and talented and a biz-whiz, there are going to be no queuing fans asking for autographs, no reviewers raving about your book, no million copies being sold, no thousands either, not even hundreds, but that in no way means you are going to fail. The trick is to have realistic goals. You must realise that things are not going to change overnight. It takes time to build an empire, and a fan following takes even longer. Make sure your content is great. It is almost impossible to bring back a reader who went away because of a mediocre story, multiple typos or grammatical mistakes. There is no reason why doing it yourself should mean unprofessional work.
It is sad that indie authors, who work much harder are still not considered good enough by many because they chose to self-publish instead of going with the established publishing houses. The truth is that a large number of them are way better than those who publish traditionally, but they struggle to be discovered. Choosing to be your own boss is a valid decision, not necessarily a compulsion because you were rejected. Most indie authors have never even tried to submit to publishing houses. They have an option of doing things in their own way, and they take that route willingly. They are not a lesser breed. Be ready to keep going even if you don’t meet your initial goals. Perseverance always pays.
My own experience has been wonderful, perhaps because I had no financial expectations. I was not expecting many people to buy, and the ones who did buy seemed like angels from heaven. I give away a lot of my books for free. The work is endless, I barely get time to read or watch a movie, or even to write, at times, but the genuine appreciation from the readers who get back to me after reading the book is worth every bit of the effort and more. Often, their glowing words bring me to tears. Of course, there are those who don’t like my work much, but they were always there, whether I was publishing or not. One can’t expect to be liked by everyone, and that’s okay. If there are no critics, we are never going to improve. Comfort zones are not places of progress.
To all aspiring authors, just one mantra- you don’t fail until you stop trying, so keep going. Evolve, grow, progress, and remember, genuine appreciation lasts much longer than the profit from a book-sale. Aim to excel, and sales will follow.
And before I go, let me share a few links with you about the process of self-publishing with that I found useful.
And Something You All Need To Know- Self-Published Ebook Awards That You Can Compete For
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Until next time…