Before I self-published, I didn’t know of all the advantages self-publishing offers or that it was the savvy author’s way to get books in the hands of readers. My only regret is I didn’t do it sooner.
I have a confession to make. I never planned to self-publish my first book. I planned on getting an eye-popping advance from one of the Big 5 after a wild auction. Unfortunately, they didn’t share that vision.
When I finally self-published my book, admittedly, it was the last resort. I had promised myself that if I was unable to sell my book or find an agent to represent me, I would not tuck it in a drawer and forget about it. No. I worked too hard. If that happened, I would self-publish. That promise reassured me during the querying and submissions and it was comforting until it was my reality. I didn’t think I’d ever use my back-up publishing plan.
Quickly, the consolation prize felt like a booby prize. It was difficult to warm up to the plan I had outlined. I felt like a failure. It’s one thing to self-publish a book when you’re excited. How exactly would I see this through now, feeling half-hearted and insecure? A bunch of rejections can really make you feel differently about the book you were (once) proud of.
Sometimes people ask me, “When did you start writing it, and how long did it take?” I can see them doing the math in their head. “Hmm,” they say, “What took you so long to publish it?”
Anyone who has ever written and published a book will laugh at that question. Non-writers, I think, must confuse the time it takes to write a book with the time it takes to read one. I’m probably the only author on the planet who cringes when a reader says, “I read your book in one night! I couldn’t put it down!” knowing the myriad all-nighters I pulled writing and editing it.
So what took so long? First of all, never underestimate the amount of time it takes to amass 81 rejections. Years. All that time wasted — instead of taking the reins of my writing career and moving forward.
Back then, I didn’t know of all the advantages self-published books have over traditionally published ones, or that self-publishing was the savvy author’s way to do the thing I always wanted: to get my book in the hands of readers. You can’t do that unless you produce something for them to read. And now, doing that is easier and more streamlined than ever — with an array of ways to self-publish, from complete DIY to soup-to-nuts service companies.
It doesn’t matter, in the end, how the book gets to market. You know who taught me that? The hundreds of thousands of readers who’ve bought my self-published book. The same readers who helped it hit the New York Times and USA Today best seller lists.
Do I have any regrets self-publishing my book? Just one. That I didn’t do it sooner.
Things I Wish I Had Known Before Self-Publishing My Book
Being an Independent Author is Like Being a Marathon Runner
The Five Emotional Stages of Publishing A Book
Does It Matter How You Publish Or Who Your Competition Is?
Your Book As A Product, And Other Takeaways From The Creative Penn/BookBaby Interview