The deliriously wonderful penladyship of Ashley McCook is the nugget that’s on offer for your enjoyment, as she bravely steps up to be my Guest Blogger on this occasion. Just read…and savour the wisdom and humour:
Because You Love It!!
(AKA: A Suspiciously Simple Guide To Self-Publishing)
Quick Seumas, Matron and her cronies are debating various shades of grey again (and they call us mad! Ha!), pass me a pencil and paper…I know you have some hidden somewhere so don’t give me that look! Thank you. Now quit looking over my shoulder, you can read it when I’m done, off you go and count your sporrans again. Good man.
Last time I counted there were around 3 squillion Bloggers, Tweeters, Linked folk, peeps with Klout and…whatever you call a collection of status-posting Facebook types, all waxing lyrical about this wondrous New World known as ‘Indie’ or ‘Self’ Publishing.
In terms of freedom of speech, this is of course pretty fabulous. In terms of actually finding your feet as a newly (or about to be) self-pubbed author, it’s absolutely mind-blowingly mental!
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE BLOGGERS! I love all of the opinions – some of them are belly-laugh-inducing funny (Like yer man Seumas here, or the rather wonderful Catherine Caffeinated), some are deathly serious (Check out this terrifying vision of the future from the Guardian); there are a number of well-trod paths – ‘build a platform’, ‘don’t spam’, host give-aways’ – and for each of these there are equally well-known counter-arguments – ‘be yourself’, ‘market your book daily’, ‘don’t EVER make your book free’. Every one of these bloggers and article writers has an angle, good arguments, enough statistics to make your brain melt and tribes of followers nodding enthusiastically. And why not?! Fair play to them all for standing up (well, they’re more likely to be sitting at a computer but you get my drift) and sharing their views and experiences with the rest of us.
If you’re a newbie to these shenanigans and you’re finding it all a bit dizzying, maybe even a tad discouraging, then this post is dedicated to you ‘cause this time last year I was in your shoes and, as a none too bright, forty year-old sitting deep in her writing cave in a wee seaside town in Northern Ireland, I felt like Dorothy setting unsteady feet on Munchkinland soil and wondering what the bloody hell was going on!
There’s just so much to think about at once: What is a ‘Social Platform’? How do I build one? Should I build one? What price should my book be? If I give it away for a week am I de-valuing all the hard work of other authors? Should I just have an eBook or is it worth trying to put a paperback out there too? What if physical copies are on their way out? Will there even be bookshops in a year or two? What is Amazon Select? What are sales algorithms? Do I need Klout? AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!
So, after a year, what can I tell you? What little nuggets of wisdom can I share ?
Well, first of all no-one out in the Bloggosphere/Twitterverse/Facebook…um…place is an expert (including me) – we are all just sharing opinions and experiences and ideas in a big explosion of information so there’s no right or wrong way to do any of this. In my humble opinion you should just use your common sense, write the best book that you can, get it professionally edited if you can afford it (my first has a lot of embarrassing mistakes), get a decent cover on it, don’t pay mad money for ANYTHING and then send your baby out into the world in whatever form makes the most sense to you (eBook, paperback, audiobook, printed on a tea-towel…well, okay maybe not that but whatever floats your boat, baby!).
Secondly, don’t stress about Social Media, gaining a million friends/followers – just connect with like-minded folk and enjoy their company. Retweet/share/Like etc. etc. etc. whatever Blogs, Tweets or Links that you find interesting – chances are, if you like them then other people will enjoy them too and before you know it that fabled ‘platform’ that everyone goes on about will be rock solid under your feet. Enjoy the ride wherever it takes you, get involved, read other Blogs, interact, leave comments, expand your horizons without ever leaving your chair.
Thirdly – marketing is a tricky business. I haven’t figured it all out yet and it’s a steep learning curve but the best advice I can give is to do your research; find another Indie writer in the same genre as your novel, what are they doing to promote their work? Is it working? Would it work for you? Any others doing something different? Be aware of SPAM (not the stuff that comes in a tin!) – there’s a thin line between promoting your book and annoying the hell out of everyone. Find the line by watching your Twitter feed – you’ll know it when you see it, trust me! – and then try very, very hard not to cross it yourself. Your first book will be a learning experience all the way along and you WILL make mistakes but don’t crumble under them, learn from them and vow to do better next time. You’re only human!
Fourthly – ignore the haters, doom merchants, trolls and idiots. You will encounter them all and some of them will succeed in making you feel miserable, pathetic and unworthy if you let them. Don’t worry though – for every pain in the ass that you meet, there are 30 lovely, generous, supportive folk waiting to make you smile and inspire you. You may never ever, get to meet them but they will become your cyber world friends and, on days when your soul needs a lift, they will provide the wings.
So, the absolute number one, top of the heap, most important, mega-lesson that I’ve learned this year?
Yep. That’s it – keep writing! Keep getting lost in your imaginary worlds with your made-up friends and that beautiful alter-reality that your imagination has gifted to you. Keep telling your stories; in the end of the day that’s why you’re here, because you write and you love it!
Damn! Matron’s on her way with the medicines, here’s your pencil back, Seumas. Yes, it’s a bit of a wee stumpy thing now, isn’t it? Sorry about that. Ooh, I love your new jacket. Are you cold? No? Then why do you seem to be hugging yourself? Oh, I see…
Ms McCook has done me blog site proud with this marvellous piece, for which your ‘umble servant is most grateful.
For those of you sensible enough to want to taste more of Ashley’s work, that can be found easily as follows: