Yesterday I posted excerpts from Nick Spalding’s thirteen-year old tips on self-publishing, which he told me are all still applicable today. So, today I’m going to respond to his tips with my thoughts.
1. Don’t give up the day job
Of course the dream is to sell lots of books, make tons of money, and quit your job. The key here is that until writing can sustain you it is best to write around your work schedule. Which, is what I’ve done. Of course, that’s a big reason why it took seven years to complete the first draft of my first novel. My final push to finish the first draft was achieved by being extra aggressive in making time to complete it. So, day job is still intact…
2. Be yourself
I have often heard people say that authors should write the books they themselves would like to read. I like the novels of Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, Matthew Norman, and other “lad-lit” authors (like Spalding, Dunn, etc.), and that’s basically what I’ve written. My novel is, of course different from theirs books… but it’s one that I enjoyed writing, even when it got difficult. I enjoyed exploring the different characters and making various plot points work together… I didn’t try to write anything bigger than I could realistically pull off. I wasn’t trying to write the next great American novel… just a story I enjoyed to write that I hope others will too.
3. Find a muse
Okay, so here’s where I’ve strayed off Spalding’s tips. Writing for me is a very private and solitary process. In the seven years I spent tinkering with it, I never so much as told anyone anything about the plot, characters… nothing… I didn’t have anyone in mind when it came to writing the story except myself and whether this was a story I was enjoying. Maybe that’s not good. I’m not sure.
As for the first person to read it… I asked a friend, and not my better half. Why not? This is my first rodeo, and I knew the best advice I could get would be from someone who wouldn’t hold back when it came to pointing out flaws in the story, or issues they didn’t like. That can be tricky when it’s someone you’re involved with or related to… I don’t want to be “protected” from criticism I want to know how to improve my work. And for me, the best person to do that is someone with experience reading fiction with a critical eye or someone who has also written fiction.
4. Read On Writing by Stephen King
Who hasn’t? It’s been a while though, and perhaps I should give it another read soon.
5. Promote your work
I’ve been working hard at keeping up my social media and blogging presence. Most of my blogs definitely relate back to my book, but also writing and marketing. I definitely don’t want to use my social media and blog presence to beat people over the head with book promotion blasts.
6. Remember that books aren’t burgers
If you read Spalding’s original article you know what he means. In short, put your best effort forward. The publishing world is over-saturated, so put out quality, professional-looking work. Don’t rush it. Do it right or not at all. As you know my novel is currently being beta-read, and after a couple rounds of revisions will be edited. I’ve also had a really nice cover done, and while I expect most of my sales to be on Kindle, I will have the paperback professionally formatted as well.
7. Try every possible avenue
Hey, if Not Famous does well when I finally publish it, I’ll be psyched. To get there I’ll have to be open to any promotional opportunity I can find. Right now I’m doing a lot of prep work for when the novel is ready to be published to promote it in a variety of ways. One thing I’m doing is looking up book bloggers to request reviews from.
8. Don’t get bummed out by bad reviews
I’ve heard other authors say this. Read them for the insight, but don’t dwell on them. Some may offer insightful criticize that can help you improve your work. Granted, there may be some written by people who clearly can’t be pleased and have nothing useful you can use. Still, if they’re all bad reviews, maybe you’ve missed the mark. Duly noted.
9. Don’t take it all too seriously
I write when I can, and try to enjoy the writing while I do. If I’m not feeling it, I stop and wait. For me, if I’m not looking forward to writing then I’m doing it wrong. I don’t have a set routine… writing tends to happen during free and/or found time, and that’s okay right now.
10. Read comic books
Not a comic book, guy. Sorry Nick. But I do read other books… If I’m not in a period of heavy writing I’ll read other books similar in genre to help me grasp what works and what doesn’t. I’ve heard others say that to write you must read… and I do that for sure!