Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My first steps into self-publishing

The choice between dread and terror.

Any time we begin a new venture, there is bound to be aspects of it we aren't looking forward to. When I finally decided that it was time for me to start fulfilling my dream of writing children's books, I was faced with two options in getting my books published: The traditional route and the self-publishing route. And each one has their own strengths and weaknesses.


The traditional route is what writers have been doing for ages. You work on a manuscript. You mail the manuscript to publishers, agents, editors, and basically anybody in the phone book praying that someday one of your 500 gazillion efforts pays off. But of course when someone finally picks it up, you're guaranteed to at least make some money and get your book sent to stores all over the country. In other words, it's a huge grind unless you get lucky and hit it big.


The self-publishing route on the other hand is a bit more Wild West. In a way it's always been around, but nowadays with more and more people using e-readers, it's far easier to do and is losing a lot of the stigma that once went with it (partly because people don't recognize publishers and online is the great equalizer). Also, the royalty system is far better. You may not sell nearly as many books, but if you sell enough that can even out quickly. Traditional pays with volume. Self-publishing pays with quality. 

The downside is it's all you. If your books are poorly edited or you hire the wrong illustrator, it's you. If they sell well, it's you. If they don't sell well, it's you. Self-publishing is running your own business, with no one to count on or blame but yourself. And that can be scary.

The Choice

So basically, it comes down to a choice between dread or fear. In my case, my day job is currently advertising, where I've been working as a freelancer for years. The constant effort of networking, emailing, cold calling, and repeating as necessary is just a day in the life. I understand that's how it has to be in a lot of ways, just like how somebody needs to spend hours doing boring exercises if they want to become a virtuoso on the violin.

Fear on the other hand is different. Not phobias, but the fear of the unknown. Some may call it terror. This is the type of fear that came up when I thought about being 100% responsible. There is a type of fear we all know that is like the first time you ask out somebody you're really interested (or the second, third, fourth, fifth...). A fear you get when you first go to college. A fear that the aforementioned violinist gets the first time they actually perform in front of people. 

And one of the many lessons I've learned through life is that when I think of taking on a new project that fills me with that type of fear, it's usually a good thing. The fear itself is a hint. There's a reason a leap of faith is called a leap of faith. The willingness to dive into the unknown is everything. Even bigger than the question of success itself.

So this is my big leap. Though I wouldn't mind a bit of success as well. Wish me luck. 

(Or better yet, share this with your friends!)



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