Self-Evaluation Leads to Self-Publishing Triumph (Guest Post)

cat sees himself as a lion

 

Self-Evaluation Leads to Self-Publishing Triumph
Guest Post by Katya W. Mills

I turned 40 on February 1st. A real classic marker, 40. One cannot help but assess the life. I was okay with my life. I am a survivor. I have been through a lot. A LOT. The whole enchilada of my life was looking pretty good. A pretty-well-rounded and far-from-perfect specimen of humanity. That’s what I saw in the mirror. A real personality. The kind of character not even my pen could create. Stranger than fiction. So what if I was broke? Not in spirit! Wow. I realized that I liked myself. And that made me feel happy. So what if I might at times be on the other side of your ticket to the zoo?

So 40 came and I thought I was golden. But then the midlife crisis moment hit me and knocked me to my knees. Ouch! The half-lit marquee in the fog. The one with the big letters dangling off it and some turned around. Two words: UnPubliShed WrIteR. My mind searched my memory banks for writers I loved, who had not been published by forty. There were a couple, thank god. Honore de Balzac maybe. Still, no matter how I might shop around for comparison, I came face to face with my truth; being anything other than a published author was unacceptable to me.

I had put more effort, thought and time into writing than anything else. And people always thought I was pretty talented. In 2007, I became a published writer.  I started my website (as a blog), and was able to alleviate the personal pressure cooker I felt to get my words out to the world. I felt great. Meanwhile, I had just finished my MA in psychology, and was making a living as a social worker. I had a calling! I had a job I really cared about!  But the social work was very hard, and I tended to burn myself out. My larger works of literary fiction gathered dust. But what choice did I have? I had to support myself.

I knew this self-publishing possibility was out there. It seemed unreal. I had tried and failed in my twenties, to promote my work to quarterlies and top-tier magazines like the New Yorker. I set the bar too high. I lost confidence in the publishing world. I was pretty sensitive.

So I kept writing and experiencing things. I told myself, ‘attraction not promotion, attraction not promotion’. This is true. If you believe in yourself, this will show in all you do. If you dedicate yourself to a craft, you will develop a personal style all your own. People are attracted to courage, grace and effort. These qualities defy marketing blitz campaigns. I kept the faith, reminding myself, ‘I am a dedicated writer. I believe in myself. I have developed a style all my own.’

But I could not steady myself around this saying, ‘writing is its own reward.’ Because there was my dream, you see? I always wanted to be a published author. I had to try. And so, at age 40, midlife crisis time, I realized: ‘it’s time, Kat, you gotta go for it! That was February 1st. Eight months later…  I feel that same kinda blissed out relief I felt when I started blogging in 2007, perhaps more powerfully, when I reach down to my coffee table and pick up my copy of my self-published novel, and hold it under my eyes – wow! Some kinda wonderful.

For more information about Katya Mills, stop by her blog: Kissilent.wordpress.com, and website: www.katyamills.com.

 

 

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How to Keep Positive When Self Publishing by RJ Crayton

sad author

How to Keep Positive When Self Publishing
by RJ Crayton
(Guest Post for 10/3/13)

The life of a self published writer can be a lonely place. As the nomenclature suggests, you’re by yourself. For writers going it alone, a lot of self doubt can creep in when you’ve written your masterpiece, set it out into the world and it doesn’t even seem to make a ripple.                     If you’ve self published, here are few things to remember to help keep you motivated in the face of small sales numbers and lack of “instant fame” you keep reading about on the Internet.

1. This is a journey that doesn’t reset each month.  For people who publish via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), the first of the month can be the most depressing day of all. I remember having more than a hundred sales at the end of one month and being so excited to click on my sales report, only to see an ugly brown bar. If you have never seen the KDP sales report, when there are no sales, you get a brown bar that says, “No sales to report.” Amazon resets your sales on the first of each month, and it is a real momentum killer. It feels like you’re back at square one, if no one purchased your book that day. But, you’re not. Just because Amazon reset it’s data, it doesn’t mean you should. Keep your own cumulative tally of sales or only look at the 6-week Amazon report, so you can see the momentum you are building.

2. This is a journey that takes time. While newspapers get their kicks reporting about the lady who wrote a book, put it up on Amazon, and a week later had 10,000 sales, the reason this is news is because it doesn’t happen very often. Most people who put their book on Amazon have very few sales –if any–to report a week later.  When you look at famous authors who have had success, very few achieved success overnight. Media Bistro points to two science fiction authors who had very modest sales for the first few years before taking off.

3. Keep writing. The thing that most of the writers who eventually do big sales numbers (and by big, I mean, they can live off the income), is they write lots of books. As I mentioned in point two, it took these writers several books to get big reach. So, write more books. If someone discovers your fifth book and likes it, they might go back and buy your first four books.The more you write, the more you’ll improve. You’ll also improve your chances of reaching people.

4. Accept that you can’t make sales happen.  You have to recognize what you can and can’t do. You can’t force people to buy your book (well, not without the police getting involved and things ending very badly for you). There are thousands of really good books out there that don’t sell well. These are well-written, professionally edited books that people thought were awesome enough to publish, but readers just weren’t interested in. Then, there are books that have that something special that catches people’s eyes and causes readers to tell all their friends to read this book. The thing is, no one knows what is going to cause a book to catch on. If big publishers knew, they’d only publish those books. But, they don’t. You have one shot at making that magic happen — when you write and edit the book. Write the best book you can, get it edited, and release it into the wild. What happens after that is out of your control, so stop worrying about it. Ultimately the content of the book is going to sell (or not sell) readers. What is in your control is making sure the reader has a positive experience when they interact with you. Be positive and friendly in your online and in-person interactions, and offer up only your best writing. Blog and do interviews and be brilliant when doing so, even advertise if you want, but that’s all you have the ability to do. The other stuff — generating massive sales and viral word of mouth — is a nebulous thing that is beyond your control. The only thing you can do is do your best, and enjoy doing it. Even if you don’t put up the numbers you want, you’re still putting out great stories. And that is something worth feeling good about.

About the Author
RJ Crayton writes thrillers with a touch of romance. Her first novel, Life First, was published in June. The sequel, Second Life, is due out Dec. 4. To find out more about her or her writing, please visit her website http://rjcrayton.com.

Want to Guest Post? Email Carolynne Keenan for more info!

Cover of Life First by RJ Crayton