Self-Publishing: One Year Later

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Two down, one to go

Has it already been one year since I self-released A Division of Souls into the world?  Yes!  And it’s been quite the trip.  I’m far, far from rolling in the dough, of course, but I don’t consider myself a failure.  In fact, I’d like to think that I’ve succeeded far more than I’d ever expected to, and I couldn’t be happier.

Let’s break that down:

–The Bridgetown trilogy contains three books that I wrote early last decade and edited, revised, rewritten, and re-revised countless times since late 2009.  I’ve not only made the prose better, I’ve learned how to write better.  I’ve also learned how to be a ruthless editor with my own work.  I’m quite proud of the results.
–I researched to find the best self-publishing avenues; not only to choose what felt right to me but what felt right for the books.  It’s never been just about making all the money (though that might be nice eventually), it’s been mostly about sharing my stories with everyone.
–I learned how to format for e-book as well as for paper.  The two are mutually exclusive, come to find out, but thanks to a lot of online information, I was able to pull it off.
–I felt my way through various avenues of promotion: making the books available on NoiseTrade, taking part in a Smashwords month-long promotion, and so on.  Kept my eyes open for other avenues that I may take in the future, once Book 3 is out.
–Thought I’d try my hand at creating my own book covers, and to my complete surprise, not only am I pretty good at it, I happen to really enjoy it.
–The responses I’ve gotten, both from friends and readers, have been helpful and informative.  Many have commented quite positively on the unique storyline and are looking forward to more.  This was one of the best payoffs: it means I did it right.
–I’ve come to the conclusion that I also really enjoy self-publishing in general; not as a way to circumvent the Big Pro Publishing machine, but simply as an alternative.  [And you know how I like all things alternative.]  I can definitely see myself doing this as a long-term prospect.
–All this, while holding down a full time Day Job in banking, which has very little to do with my creative writing (unless you count my work emails, which can get quite lyrical in its business-speak sometimes).

Many times I’ve thought that I happened to drift into self-publishing at the perfect moment, when it’s starting to gain respect in the field as a viable and important avenue for writers.  I remember when self-pubbing first crossed my mind, back in 2008 or so, when I was inspired by John Scalzi having done the same thing early in his fiction career.  I knew it wasn’t something I’d jump into blindly; I didn’t want to make too many rookie mistakes and ruin my work and career.  I knew I wasn’t the best writer, that I could be even better if I set my mind to it and took the time to learn.

I also find myself incredibly lucky in that I’d noticed all the unique parallels between writing books to publication and recording music to public release.  The DIY structures of punk that I was familiar with served as a guide for DIY publication.  I also find myself incredibly lucky that there are more avenues than just vanity houses and small presses than there were even ten years ago.  It’s been quite the thrill ride, and I’ve learned a hell of a lot over the last decade or so.

Yeah, I think I’m gonna keep this gig.

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