Happy President’s Day to all the Story Empire readers! Best wishes to everyone and enjoy the day if you have time off.
Being a writer is lonely and being a self-published author can be trying to the nerves as you constantly juggle writing, publishing and marketing. The latter can challenge even the most stouthearted among us. The question can often linger in our minds if we’re actually doing anything useful, but we manage to keep going just because we enjoy the creation of a book and we love books!
Our view can often be myopic as we’re just too close to what we’re doing to notice how the writing changes us. But there are changes and there are affects that make a difference. Let’s zoom out from that up-close view and take look at the bigger picture. Here are some ways that self-publishing can benefit you as an author:
- You learn how publishing works – this may seem obvious if you’ve published a book at least once. When you began you probably didn’t know near as much as you do now about how to publish a book. It’s an accomplishment to launch a new book and you learn far too many lessons in the process than can be listed here. If you go on to sign a contract for publication with a traditional or hybrid publisher, you already understand much about the production of a solid book – all the editing and other hard work. You can appreciate what the publisher does and work with the editorial staff with more clarity. You won’t know everything they do, but you will bring your experiences and that can make a difference.
- You find out whether you have the chops – once you create a book, you know you’ve got the chops to do repeat the effort from beginning to end. It builds confidence such that you have a process developed which keeps you writing new content. This ability identifies you as someone who can approach being an author with a professional attitude. If your goal is being traditionally published or working as a hybrid author (self-published and traditionally published), an agent or publisher can tell that you’ve got the chops to deliver books in the future, which is a big hurdle.
- Proof of concept & understanding what works – over time as you build up your experience you gain understanding of what works with a book you develop. For example, you break incorrect molds like writing a passive main characters and understand what’s necessary to write a better book. You develop the wisdom of your work with an editor and other feedback from beta readers and legitimate reviewers. Also, you prove the concept of your work, your vision and your books. This is also important when pursuing contracts that can expand your writing career.
- It can open doors – as suggested by previous points above this one, your work can eventually open doors that you’ve hoped to reach but weren’t sure you’d ever approach. All kinds of secondary rights are available from audio to large print and many others. Doors can open wide as you grow an audience over several books into the thousands until you either release to a viable audience or draw attention for contracts, all of which expands your career.
- Self-publishing quantifies your brand as an author – which sums all this up. The work builds your author brand over time into an overall asset encompassing all your writing assets and their value in the reading public. This brand is speaks to the value of what you do, no matter where you are as an author. If you grow your audience over time by attracting and engaging readers, you can gain attention for your work to sell additional rights or pitch new projects as a hybrid author. This brand will define the value of your writing so agents, editors and other related industry scouts can identify the value of your brand and the relevance or your work as they makes decisions. They grasp what you bring to the table.
So there’s the list of benefits and perhaps that gives you some goals and perspective for your writing journey. What can you do to grow along these lines?
- Keep writing, keep honing your ability and stay patient. Personally, I struggle with patience but writing is not completed overnight, at least not regularly. Wherever you are in the writing journey, understand you are moving in a direction so keep feeding your purpose and grow.
- Reflect on progress – perhaps you’re struggling with making sense of your writing career and where you are headed. It’s good to reflect and adjust, make decisions based on your trajectory as an author and adjust goals accordingly.
- Celebrate achievements – whatever you accomplish, be it a rough draft, a revision or a book launch, take time to appreciate it.
- Keep yourself grounded with a bigger picture and be honest with yourself. It’s easy to think the next book will sell incredibly well but you must understand that audience growth occurs over time even if you experience times where it’s faster than expected. Everything evens out over time.
- Find ways to discover readers – it can be a battle to market within a budget. Can you learn to engage readers where they are, maybe find people with a broader influence with whom you can develop a relationship? There are many ways to find readers, sometimes one at a time, but just remember that a regular drip of water can fill a big barrel.
Those are my thoughts today on the subject, probably in one of my more optimistic moments. I’m not always hopeful, getting lost in the details of the daily grind but it helps me to consider how writing and self-publishing changed me. How has self-publishing – or publishing, in general – affected your writing career? Has your author brand grown and how? What can you do to change the course of your author trajectory?
Personally, I’m taking a chance on some opportunities this week by attending a conference hosted by my literary agency on a cruise. It’s a time to get away for a week but also push myself in a different direction I’ve never gone. I plan to pitch existing books for secondary rights, maybe even screen development. I’m also pitching new writing projects to publishers. It’s all part of the process and not something I would have undertaken even a few years ago. It’s more than likely nothing will come of my efforts, but I’m willing to step forward and present my work as I’ve reached a place where it’s time to stretch further than I have previously. My experience has grown with a modest audience so it’s worth the effort. I can’t continue to grow without taking steps out of my comfort zone.
Feel free to leave your answers and thoughts in the comments. I’ll be available part of today to respond to comments and the other authors here at Story Empire will graciously monitor responses while I’m away with limited internet access.