Writing a book and selling a book goes from easy to hard, harder, and hardest.
Anonymous once said, “the beginning is easy, what happens next is much harder.”
For me, it all started with a short story and ended with three novels. Between the beginning and the end of a novel comes what I call writer’s sweaty time. You have your own version of a writing journey. We share that certain feeling; the time spent staring at a blank page, waiting for exactly the right word. We know what it is like when the story finally comes to life, and the struggle to find our way to the end, often surprised when we actually make it there.
Writing seems like hard work, right?
Looking back, writing was the fun part of the journey for me and, in retrospect, turned out to be the easy part. When I finished my first novel I sat back with a smile of celebration, unprepared for the next steps. Those next steps included editing, cover design and the choice of a printer.
I have a hard time doing my own editing. I keep missing the same mistakes over and over. I need a good editor, someone who understands the grammar and spelling, but also follows the story flow. Whew! That was my reaction when I realized how much it would cost. How many of us have a limitless budget to pay for editorial services? I certainly didn’t. Whether we are on a fixed income in retirement, or carefully balancing time between family, working and writing, the real cost of editing can be daunting. The cost of not editing, however, can be disastrous.
It was my good fortune to discover an editor that was talented and reasonably priced.
I’m not proud of the look of my first two books. There are some OK cover templates on the market, but they tend to look bland, and frankly like templates. If you want to make a book stand out in the crowd you need a cover that will do your book proud. I tried the generic cover templates, and while nice, as in OK, they lacked a look that would have someone reaching for them on a crowded shelf in a bookstore. But I was fortunate to find someone who could design an outstanding cover, and at a price I could afford.
How lucky was I? I ended up with an outstanding designer, someone who translated my novels into a graphic design, the covers looking great, each hinting at the story between the covers.
Today, writers have several good printing options to choose from. Independent authors can pick from a variety of companies serving the self-publishing community, and easily found using your favorite search engine. I use one that offers a menu of print options, but allows me to take advantage of print-on-demand (POD) technology. I don’t need to use my garage or closet as a warehouse, and the cost of printing a large number. I can use the POD computer. When I have an order for a novel I go online and my computer/warehouse springs into action and shipping takes care of the rest.
I have learned to look carefully at the internet ads offering self-publishing services. Unfortunately there are some scoundrels lurking on the internet, waiting to take advantage of a writer’s ego. It pays to ask around and make sure you check references.
Once the books are written and printed comes the hardest part.
THE HARDEST PART
In Julius Caesar Brutus made what was called the unkindest cut of all. To borrow that phrase, from a writer’s point of view, marketing is the hardest part of all. Few of us have the knowledge of, and talent for, marketing. Yet, as writers, we are expected to market our novel, like actors thrust on stage, actors without a script.
I can tell you from experience how much courage it took to walk into a bookstore for the first time, not to buy a book, but to ask them to sell mine.
I thought I had a grasp of what it would take to market my novels, but learned by trial and error, and ended with a portfolio of ideas for low-cost, do-it-yourself marketing. I have learned to embrace the saying that we sell books one-at-a-time, the old-fashioned way.
Not everyone has the stomach to be a relentless self-promoter, but that is what it takes. There is no magic that will turn my novel into a best-seller and all the fame that goes with it. I am learning to sell one book at a time, the old-fashioned way.
BUT WAIT, THERE IS HELP
Are you thinking about becoming an indie author and taking control of your publishing destiny?
Welcome to the Indie Publishing Revolution. There are resources for writers just like you. You can find help that will provide you with a triptych, a guide to you as an emerging author, one who is considering self-publishing. Their goal is your book in print, as a book you can be proud of.
I use Createspace, an Amazon publishing arm, but there are others that offer similar services; Bookstand Publishing, IUniverse, Lulu, etc. They all provide a menu of service allowing you to pick and choose that which is right for you.
There is a review of self-publishing I found most informative. Check it out at http://reviews.cnet.com/self-publishing/. It is a helpful, unbiased review.
I found an editor, a designer, and became an “accidental marketeer” committed to offering affordable, good reads. Then the magic happens. My readers make the vote that counts, reading and liking what they read. I have weathered the trial and error storm of writing and publishing and now stand ready to share that experience with others who are considering the independent choice.
I wish you good luck with your writing and encourage you to consider becoming an Indie Author
Chuck Waldron is an indie author of three novels. His website is www.writebyme.ca and he welcomes your questions and comments.
I grew up listening to my grandfather, an Ozark Mountain story teller, spinning tales of the caves on his farm, describing them as hiding places once used by Jesse & Frank James’ gang. It didn’t matter if the stories were true or not. Those legends set fire to my imagination, creating images that emerged slowly over the years, finally igniting as my short stories and novels.
Now, thirty-plus short stories and three novels later, ideas keep coming, with novel number four well underway. Do they share anything in common? Each has its own unique voice and tale to tell, some in the old style and some in the flavors of Chunky Monkey and Marshmallow-Cherry swirl. Yet, at their heart, my stories tell a tale of the human condition – the good, the bad and the ugly.
My literary roots, planted in the American Midwest, thrived when transplanted – over thirty-nine years ago – to the rich, cultural soil of Ontario. Warmed by a Florida sun, I now divide my winters between Port St. Lucie and Port St. Joe. Those roots have grown to become the life I’ve always dreamed of having: writer, dreamer and storyteller. Who could ask for more?