I’ll admit it, I have absolutely no idea what the hell I’m doing as a first-time self-published author. I thought it would be easy, I thought it would be fun. I thought I would be intelligent enough to navigate the ins and outs of creating a book and putting it “out there” into the digital and real world. I was half right.
When I first started writing I was excited. It was coming together, I was getting the voices screeching their story out of my head. It was enjoyable to finally be able to see my creation take shape. I didn’t have a clue about “branding” or marketing and gave it little thought during the time it took to finish my novel. I was just happy, I was writing and it was good.
Towards the end, the road got a little rocky. The path started to wind and twist. I was diving headfirst into the self-publishing ocean with water I couldn’t see the bottom of, and I was terrified. There were no clear pointers to direct me, no clear-cut path to take as every author had an opinion, every blogger had an answer. It became a clicking nightmare as I bounced from page to page, from article to tweet collecting bits of information I thought useful. In fact, to this day, I have a folder of bookmarks containing everything I could possibly find that rivals the Dewey Decimal system.
There were tried and true methods galore, page after page of assistance. Some of it antiquated, other times not even close to what I was experiencing. Get a Facebook page they said, get a Twitter. Others screamed out the benefit of author pages, while others spoke of blogs. WTH had I gotten myself into was the recurring mantra of my days of just starting out. I didn’t know where to start, so, like the crazy Southern man I was, I did it all. I took it all in, deciphered the useful from the null and void, and did it all.
I found out or stumbled into discovery mode, that in a world of self-publishing, you choose how far you want to fall down the rabbit hole. You choose where to direct your efforts and how much, or how little you want to invest in the author life. There will be confusion, there will be “wthomghthidk” moments that will make you question your sanity, and yes, there will be clicks upon clicks of sites, pages, people, and places you never knew existed, but you will learn, you will grow.
If you want to self-publish you’ll have to learn to market. You’ll need to learn the tricks, the secrets, the plans, and options available. It won’t be successful for all, it won’t work for every situation. Don’t give up. It will feel like a cavalcade, a series of related events and it will all be good. There is a wealth of information out there and there are others who are more than willing to help. You are not the first, will not be the last.
If I can offer any advice, if I can tell you just a few things it would be that authors make the best community of people to ask for advice, especially the self-publishing ones. They are creative, they listen, they read, they know how to pilot a boat through choppy waters while eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of merlot. They are your cohorts and will always scratch your back if you also scratch theirs. Learn to tweet, text, PM, DM, friend, favorite, tag, add, pin, and share. The world of knowledge unravels as you go.
Learn to use tried and true avenues for your self-publishing endeavors, but also seek different paths that may also help. Learn to do it all, ask questions, offer advice. It gets better, it gets easier and eventually, you get back to doing what you love, writing. It’s ok if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, most of us didn’t either when we started. Some of us, still don’t.