On Wednesday, I accomplished a goal that I had set out to do back in 2019.
I self-published a book for the first time.
Okay, so I’m not sure you can call it a book because it only has 77 pages to it. Well, give me a second and I’ll look up the definition of a book.
Dictionary.com defines a book as “a handwritten or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers.
Printed work of fiction? Check. Bound sheets of paper inside a cover? Check. Okay, cool. What I published is a book. I can now continue with this week’s rant.
Like I was saying, before I was rudely interrupted by myself, I had made it a goal to self publish a book of my short stories and poems about three years ago. I had some idea about how to go about it, but I had never tried it.
Here are just a few things I’ve learned from this experience:
- Know your limits. Before you set out on any project, you should take inventory of what you can and cannot do or if you can learn how to do it. I knew that I could figure out how to use Microsoft Publisher to design the interior of my book. I’ve been using Adobe InDesign (a similar program) in my newspaper career for almost seven years now. It wasn’t difficult. Of course, there was a learning curve due to the difference in software, but for me it was minimal. I knew that I could edit the book myself. It’s probably not the best and there’s most likely errors still in the book that I didn’t catch, but it’ll due for my first attempt. In the future for bigger works, I’ll hire an actual editor. What I could not do, however, was design a cover. So, I hired an artist friend of mine, Laci Nellans, to design it. I told her what I wanted, and she did an amazing job that was what I envisioned. I know that if I ha tried to do it, it would have looked like an absolute mess. Know what you can do. If you can’t learn to do something, then find someone who can.
- Be patient. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” If Old Teddy said it, then there’s truth in it…right? Sure, you can open a Microsoft Word document, bang out 50,000 words and self publish it on Amazon in the span of a weekend. Will it be coherent? Most likely not. Even Stephen King takes his time pumping out his books and the dude has written (give or take) 11 collections, 5 nonfiction, 64 novels, and 19 screenplays since his first published work (Carrie) in 1974. That’s about two pieces of work a year. If King can take half a year (average) to publish a book, then you can take your time. For me, I had to balance writing other books and working my full-time job and my other part-time job with trying to self-publish this book. There’s a lot of juggling of responsibilities. Plus, I’m a procrastinator by nature so I would just play video games or read other books in my spare time. There’s a time management tip that could be talked about here, but I’ll save that for another rant.
- Pricing your book. Personally, I think I priced my book at too high a price. Currently, it’s selling for $5.99. Is that too high a price for 77 pages? Probably. Being completely honest with you all, it’s a little under three times the printing cost. I’ve always had a problem with knowing my self worth. So, when Amazon asked me what I should price this book at, I wanted to just sell it at printing cost (around $2.41). Why should I make money on something that most likely won’t even sell? That’s what I asked myself. If you do read my book, it’s a collection of short stories and poems that I funneled all my depression and feelings of self-loathing into. It’s a dark and depressing book. However, it reflects what I was feeling and going through at that era of my life. And why shouldn’t I ask a higher price for something that personal? Plus, if I think no one will read it anyway, then I should just price it higher. Might as well, right?
- Marketing your book. This is something I’ve had some experience in over the last few years with my other published book (published through Burning Willow Press and then currently Random Evolved Media), The Book of Roland. Once your book is out in the world, you must promote it. There’s a few ways about going at this. As I said above, if you know how to do it then start promoting it. If you don’t know how to, but you can learn… then go learn and do it! However, if you’re horrible at social media or refuse to download it on your phone, then I suggest finding a company or professional to promote it for you. Is it expensive? It can be, but your book won’t sell if no one knows about it. Thousands of books are released every day (remember what I said about pumping out a book in a weekend?) and if you’re not careful your book will drown in that sea of releases.
So, I guess with all that being said, go buy my book. Haha, just kidding. You don’t have to. Like I said, it’s dark and depressing. I wrote it because, for me, writing is therapy. There were times in the last ten years when I couldn’t cope with life. I would have panic attacks at night when I was alone with myself and my thoughts. After my divorce, when I would think about going through the rest of my life alone, I couldn’t stand it.
I started writing those short stories and poems. The characters in them were, for all intents and purposes, me. Everything those characters suffered, I suffered inside my head. By putting words on a page, I transferred my pain to those poor fictional characters. At least, I hope they’re fictional.
I guess that’s another thing I learned through the process of self-publishing. It’s okay to experience depression, shame, guilt, loss, anger, and all the other emotions. For the longest time, I believed that you should bottle up your emotions and never let anyone see the real you. You’ve got to find your own form of therapy to deal with those emotions. If you don’t, something bad will happen to you or others.
And as always, keep calm and write on.