The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘self-publishing

For the past several years, I’ve been curious about self-publishing and have wanted to pursue a more hybrid approach to my author career. I’ve listened to podcasts, read books and have worked to become better educated about the opportunities and challenges of self-publishing. There’s still a lot to learn and I’m working up the courage to have something self-published by the end of the year. Maybe you are thinking along the same lines and wondering how to develop a plan that doesn’t result in overwhelm. I’ve got you covered. I’m delighted to welcome Desiree Villena who is providing today’s guest post. Desiree is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. Over 2,500 books have been produced via Reedsy since 2015.

5 Tips to Transition from Traditional

Publishing to Self-Publishing

These days, the world of publishing has more choices than ever before. For perhaps the first time ever, authors are truly free to pick the publishing path that is both best suited to their personality and most effective at bringing their particular story to the right audience.

But if you’re used to having your books traditionally published, venturing into the world of self-publishing can seem rather daunting. So today we’re going to cover 5 things you can do to help make the transition seamless — and even fun.

Create your own publishing schedule

As a traditionally published author, you’re used to having deadlines assigned to you. Depending on how well the project is going, this can feel like either a blessing and a curse. When you do strike out on your own, it can be tempting to think this means your days of racing to meet strict deadlines are over. But whatever you do: resist that impulse.

There’s a reason publishing houses operate on carefully mapped out timetables, and it’s not just the volume of books they’re producing. By creating a production schedule, you’ll be able to budget your time, money, and resources, as well as lay the groundwork for a successful launch plan.

Now, when you’re new to self-publishing, it may take you a while to figure out a realistic release timetable for you and your books. That’s okay. Be willing to learn from your experiences and adjust accordingly. It’s much easier to fix a plan that’s already there, than to wander aimlessly and hope for the best.

Build yourself a team

Publishing houses understand that each aspect of building a book requires different skills and talents. Book cover designers do not necessarily know how to create beautiful interiors, and they certainly can’t copy edit to find all yourweasel words and grammatical mistakes!

Although it’s called “self” publishing, do yourself a favor: don’t try to DIY this. Not only will it add way more stress and take time away from what you should really be focusing on (writing), but it’s not good for your books either.

Instead, you’ll want to make yourself the head of your own tiny publishing empire. Being able to choose your own editors, cover designers, and marketing specialists means that you’ll always be working with people you believe in and trust to bring your book to life the right way.

Set a clear vision for yourself

That said, this is still your book and your career as an author. Successful self-publishers know what they want from their career, and every business decision they make reflects the goals, priorities, and guidelines they set out for themselves.

To start, ask yourself what you’re really looking for by turning to self-publishing. “Success” is not an answer — what does that look like for you? What kind of author do you want to be, what kind of books do you want to write? Do you want to publish because you’re trying to bring specific stories into the world? How often do you need to publish to meet your goals?

Make sure to be honest as you’re talking to yourself about this. There really is no “wrong” answer, unless of course you’re looking to publish purely as a get-rich-quick method. Spoiler: that doesn’t work. Self-publishing can be financially successful in the long run, but it takes time, patience, and smart business tactics. It’s important to find value and fulfillment in the process before you turn a profit  — otherwise, you won’t stick with it long enough to find success.

Do your research

Remember how much time you spent learning how to get a literary agent? Guess what: you’re going to need to invest a similar amount into learning how to self-publish.

This doesn’t need to be disheartening, however. Your experience as a traditionally published author will give you a leg up: you’ll already know how to work well with an editor and on a deadline, as well as being familiar with the nerves that come with book launches and marketing tours.

But yeah, it’s a different process, and you’re going to need to learn the details of how it works. Luckily, there’s a whole wealth of publishing courses and blogs out there where you can find the answer to just about any self-publishing question that crosses your mind. And as a bonus tip, make friends within the self-publishing community. Believe me, no struggle you encounter will be unique, and there are more than enough sympathetic ears out there willing to give you advice and encouragement.

Let go of your fear of failure

Rejection is a constant in the traditional publishing world. By the time your first book is out you’ve been rejected by agents and publishers so often that you’re probably pretty numb to it. And it’s not like you’ll ever get a feedback form from agents that explain to you why they turned down your book. Even successful, professional authors can’t get away from it: just because your first book sold, doesn’t mean the next one will, and one failed launch can be the difference between getting signed again or not.

But in the self-publishing world, there is no such thing as a complete failure. Even if you do everything wrong and your first book only sells one copy to your mom, you can pick yourself back up, brush yourself off, and try again. You can switch genres, try different pen names, or just re-release a title with a new cover and a stronger marketing push. Remember, a book that doesn’t sell well at first can find success even years after its release. Your career is truly in your own hands, and the only way to “fail” is to stop trying.

With that in mind, it’s time for you to get out there and start making your dreams a reality. Good luck!

***

Your invitation still stands, click here to get your ‘Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19’.

illogicon

Although I primarily like to write speculative fiction (generally known as ‘sci-fi’), it’s been years since I’ve attended a science fiction convention. Probably around twenty years. Science fiction conventions or ‘cons’ are gatherings that take place across the country. They feature writers, editors, illustrators, gamers and lots of people who love reading science fiction and fantasy. There are typically panels about writing, panels about the genre itself, costume competitions, author readings, and lots of people really into sci-fi. The work of any con is done by volunteers, by devoted (and organized) people who love the field. Con organizers are amazing people.

A few months ago, a local writer suggested that I check out an upcoming local con. This happened to be ‘illogiCon iv’, a local con happening about forty minutes from where I live. As an upcoming writer, cons are a great place to meet fans, other writers, and soak in the field from a variety of perspectives. My writer friend even suggested that I email the organizers and see if they needed a moderator. I decided to do just that and so a few weeks ago I got to attend Illogicon! I moderated two panels: ‘Social Scientists’ Science Fiction’ and ‘Why Does it Take an Editor a Year to Read a Book?’

I loved illogiCon! I attended great, thought-provoking panels, discovered new authors, networked and utterly enjoyed myself. My only regret is that I didn’t stay at the hotel instead of commuting. Next year I won’t make that mistake. At most cons, the panels and performances run until 11pm. And, then there are the room parties!

I was happy to see that there was an explicit no harassment policy (as this has been an issue historically at many cons) and also that a wide variety of people across age, race and ability attended.

illogiCon offered a wide variety of panels. Everything from ‘How to Create a Podcast’ to ‘Diversity and Representation in Genre Fiction’ to ‘Steampunk to Cyberpunk: A History’ to ‘You’ve Finished Your First Draft. Now What?’ And, I’m very sorry that I missed the performance by the ‘League of Extraordinary Belly Dancers’.

I’m splitting this post up into two parts because there’s so much I want to share with you.

What follows below is a brief summary of some of the points made at two of the panels I attended. I have generally taken some liberties by paraphrasing panelists’ comments.

All Roads Lead to… (a discussion of publishing across the spectrum—self-publishing, small/medium publishers and large publishers)

Lynn McNamee, Clay Gilbert (absent due to illness) Michael G. Williams

This was a lively panel. Lynn is the owner of Red Adept Publishing, a small publishing house and Michael is primarily self-published.

Some takeaways-

-Everyone should self-publish something because you learn so much about the business of being an author
-If you self-publish make sure to use a professional editor, cover designer
-A small publisher is looking to find novel ways for you to enter a reader’s ‘eco-system’
-Google+ is turning out to be a good community for self-published authors
-Smaller publishing houses often work very hard to support an author and should not be dismissed as an option
-Working to get an agent is a good thing as they can enable you to concentrate on writing while they concentrate on rights and other issues

Building Your Brand: Promoting Your Book or Project on Social Media (Whether you are published by the Big 5, marketing your book online is still largely up to you.)

Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Lynn McNamee, Susan Griffith, Chris Kennedy, Clay Griffith

This was a fantastic panel with established authors who shareed how they manage social media and marketing.

-When you engage with fans, be 100% present
-Building a brand is different than building your personality
-When thinking about your brand, consider: What is that you want you and your stories to be known for?
-Relationships (in person with booksellers, fans, etc.) are just as important as selling books
-Some authors pay to ‘boost a post’ on Facebook once a month
-Engage readers on a personal level; keep it warm
-Make sure the cover represents your book and genre; remember that 53% of purchase decisions for books are based on a cover (if you are self-published, make sure you have a good cover!)

 

Stay tuned for part 2!

 

Last December, my creativity buddy, Susan Guild, asked me to participate in her phenomenal monthly ‘Wake Up Your Magic’ tele-share live call. During the tele-share, Susan brings together various folk to talk about creativity and staying inspired during the pursuit of one’s dreams. Susan also invited Wendy Fedan, an artist and newly minted author. When the three of us got on the phone, it felt like a homecoming. I listened with interest as Wendy talked about how to follow the “nudges” we get from the Universe to move toward our creative dreams (what she calls “following Divine breadcrumbs”), and the importance of persistence in pursuing long term writing projects. I also fell in love with the title of her new memoir, Wearing My Weird: In The Great White North and knew I wanted to invite her here.

Wendy  is a freelance designer and illustrator. She has been a professional caricature artist since 1992. Wendy is also a creativity coach and leads ‘Create-A-Way’ workshops that explore the relationship between creativity and spirituality.

Wearing My Weird follows the adventures of a twelve year old Wendy as she navigates a painful transition with humor and compassion. It is about self-acceptance and renewal. It is the first in a three book series.

I’m so happy to welcome Wendy Fedan to The Practice of Creativity.

wendyfedan

Tell us about your first book, Wearing My Weird. Why did you want to write this book?

My first motivation, when I was twelve, was to write about the most important thing that ever happened to me – moving from one country to another. But as the years passed, it became more about capturing this moment in history – this snapshot from a period in my life when I was a child battling between feelings of hope and insecurity. It’s an important period of my life, I realize, as I look back – more important than I realized. I’m thankful that I wrote as much I did about it as a child going through it. Thanks to my writings back then, I was able to recapture the voice of my 13-year-old self and bring her back to life in this series, giving her the spotlight she always wanted.

How did you get bitten by the ‘writing bug’? Did you always wish to become an author?

Yes, I always wanted to be an author – even before I knew how to read. I remember looking through books, wondering what all those marks meant. Not just the words, but the punctuation and even paragraph structure (Why were some paragraphs big and some only a few words long?). I remember watching my father reading and understanding how powerful books were – again, before even knowing how to read. And when I finally learned how to write in the first grade, I immediately raced out of my gate and wrote as much as I could. I tested my bravery by even reading my stories aloud in class in the second grade. That was when I knew writing was my favorite thing in the world. I loved the act of sharing my ideas and stories with others, entertaining them with my words, and making them understand me in my own quiet way.

wearingmyweird

Can you talk about the role of persistence and the support you received from your writer’s group that helped to make WMW a reality?

Persistence is essential to writing. You always hope the book will magically write itself while you go on with your life, but it doesn’t. You have to make the effort to sit down and take a bit of time out to record your thoughts. Then you have to be willing to go back to what you’ve written with an open mind and learn to edit yourself. And edit again. And edit again. Sometimes the act of writing feels like I’m creating an endless work in progress. And thanks to the magical technology of self-publishing, even after publication you can continue to edit your work.

I’m thankful to my writing group. With the help of my peers and teachers, I’ve learned how to edit my own work. And the group has also given me a sense of accountability. We as writers need some kind of group around us to help give us accountability and encouragement. Otherwise you’re just a lone writer, with nobody around to lend support or encouragement. It’s hard to find motivation in a secluded lifestyle. We need writing peeps.

You manage to pack a lot into your day! You are a consistent blogger, freelance designer, illustrator and creativity coach. How do these activities feed into each other and you?

Blogging has become my new form of journaling (I always wanted my journals read anyway), so it’s been a wonderful outlet for me. When I discovered blogging, I felt a light from heaven open up, and I thought, WOW! THIS IS FOR ME!

Freelance design and commercial art in general (as well as caricature work) has helped pay the bills for me. Art has become my meat and potatoes job. That makes me very happy. When I made the choice to go to art school, I knew I was deciding what my meat and potatoes focus was going to be. I didn’t want my writing to be my meat and potatoes focus. Writing was too precious to me. Writing is too spiritual to me to become my day job. I like my job focus to be the way it is now, and I’m happy things have worked out that way for me!

As for becoming a creativity coach, this is something I have just begun budding into. I’ve begun leading workshops and retreats to help others get in touch with their creative and spiritual selves because I know how important that is. If more people were in touch with their intuition and creativity, we would be much happier people. I feel like doing this kind of inspirational work is my own way to give back what God has blessed me with. I have to share what I’ve been given, in hope that others will find their own special connection to God and creativity. I’ve begun speaking to schools to promote my book and to inspire kids to write. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences ever for me.

You advocate a DIY approach to publishing and encourage other writers to explore self-publishing. What have been some of the benefits and challenges of this approach?

The benefits of self-publishing are enormous:

⁃  You don’t have to rely on an publishing editor behind a desk to tell you whether your story is good or interesting enough for the world to read.
⁃  You can make your dream happen. NOW.
⁃  You don’t have to adjust your story to death to satisfy a publisher (there’s a point where it stops being your own book).
⁃  You receive a much higher royalty.

The challenges of self publishing:

⁃  You’re on your own… for everything. You’re responsible for your own book’s editing, cover creation, and marketing.
⁃  You can’t just be a writer anymore. You need to learn how to network and promote your work effectively. That means you have to get out of your shell and actually talk to people. If you are a writer who likes to speak, you’re in good shape! If not, you have a challenge to face – and I recommend Toastmasters, BIG TIME, to help you overcome that challenge!

What is the best writing tip you’d like to share?

The best tip I can give regarding writing is not to give up. People ask, “What is the cure for writer’s block?” The answer is “TO WRITE.” Write anything. Write gibberish. It doesn’t matter. Edit yourself LATER. Just get it out on the page.

Your story will never write itself. YOU have to write it.

So please… just write it down.

As a Cleveland author, Les Roberts, says, “Nobody else can tell your story.”

 

To find out more about Wendy and to check out her three book series of Wearing My Weird, visit her site


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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