This week, Some Nerd Girl opened its virtual doors to all self-published writers in the way of a free review opportunity. As a self-published author myself, this is kind of near-and-dear to me. These days, there’s generally three ways to get published:
- Self Publish
- Publish via a small / medium press
- Get picked up by a major publishing company
There are pros and cons to each one of these – I can’t speak to the last two bullet points, but I can very much attest to the first.
I have been writing since the age of 13 – now 29, this whole self-publishing thing is a brand new ballgame. I published my first book in March of 2015 – a complete rookie to the process. I used the power of the internet to learn the ropes. I joined some self publishing online communities and I ran, full force, towards my goal.
It wasn’t quite like running straight into a wall, but I learned running full-force at something like self-publishing was not the best approach. In the end, I accomplished my goal, but there was still a lot I hadn’t done.
Like made an online presence or market myself or my book. Just two small things that are, oh, what is that? Completely essential to your success? Balls.
Let me back up for a minute before I really dig into that point. There are a lot of known expenses when you self publish. Off of the top of my head, they are, as follows:
- Editing / Proofreading
- Cover Design
- Website Domains
- Website builders
- Maybe even a web designer (for the fancy types with extra cash)
- Print copies to provide visuals to possible local readers
- Marketing (Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, BookBub)
- The risky (and IMO shady) paid review
One expense that we don’t really talk about is this one:
The putting yourself out there, naked and afraid, emotional expense
As I mentioned, I ran as fast as I could to market with my first book, Children of the Fallen. I made a lot of mistakes, and one of them was not understanding that the world was not waiting for my book. The world didn’t know about my book. They didn’t really care about my book. It was my job to make them care.
Introverted, loves-to-write-alone-by-myself-in-a-quiet-room-for-fun, me.
And so, I made some attempts. I bought some Facebook advertising services (why this made sense, I have no idea), and I posted on Reddit a bunch.
And got caught in spam filters a bunch.
And told by moderators a bunch that self-promotion was a no-no.
The only places that were safe for self promotion were places that were 100% dedicated to self promotion, where the only people subscribed were only interested in promoting their own thing.
I tried another approach – I began to submit my book for reviews. And got turned down all but once. I saw approximately zero difference in sales after my review ran. That is to say; none. None sales.
I attended self published panels (that turned out to be mostly bickering), and workshops where most folks there were scratching their heads the same as me when it came to building a readership.
So I went back to the drawing board and started watching what amounted to self-help videos. One of them recommended publishing more books, then offering some for free in order to build a loyal readership.
That’s cool, bro. Only a few problems with that – getting a book to market, the RIGHT away… it ain’t cheap. If I had a couple grand to plop down on each venture, I’d feel better about it. Quality editing alone is enough to make my bank account clutch its purse. The other problem is allocating the time to write multiple drafts to even get to the editing process.
Don’t get me wrong; this IS a good plan. And I will be utilizing it, but it’s a slow process. And I don’t like slow. I like to run. Like Forrest Gump, if you will.
The cold reality of the situation is that we live in a world, and on an internet, that rather dislikes self-promotion.
It’s ironic, and I would be amused by it if it weren’t so real for me. Who will promote me, if not me? Do you see the paradox here, grumpy moderators?
I went a self-publishing route in part to avoid the crushing, drawn out rejection process that is querying major publishers. Now I understand the process is basically reversed for self-publishing – a quick start up, and then the real work starts. The emotional work of being a constant advocate for yourself – which is an odd exercise. And, again, not entirely welcomed with a warm embrace by people who are not your friends and family.
And I get it; nobody wants a flood of people crying for them to buy their book (not even me!). And I don’t really have a solution – other than to say I know in my gut there is a way for us self-published authors to band together in order to devise a source for interested readers to have a chance to find us. I’m going to let that one simmer for a while – to be continued, if you will.
I think step one is acknowledging that there is an emotional expense to self publishing. And yes, true – for all publishing. We are all human, and we all doubt ourselves (severely at times – we are writers, after all). But in a small or large press situation, you will usually have some backing. Some team of people helping you to achieve your goals. For the self-pub crowd, it’s us, our friends and our family that keep us going. We believe in our stories enough to put them out there – naked and afraid – for your approval.
It’s kind of nerve wracking.
But we’re going to keep going. Because some stories can’t be contained, and these running shoes are barely worn out!
Eve is the founder of Some Nerd Girl and the author of urban fantasy novel Children of the Fallen and science fiction novel Colony One. She has been writing since the age of 13 and has been flying her nerd flag for the past 16 years. Fandoms include Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Basically if it has ‘star’ in it, she’ll give it a shot. You can visit her website at www.somenerdgirl.com.