By R.S. Medina
Real Stories by Real Authors
Writing a novel is hard work. I was super lucky to have wonderful people in my circle when I first decided to self-publish. They helped guide me through the process, and without them, I would absolutely not be where I am today.
If you’re here because you’re about to self-publish for the first time, congratulations!
Even with those people, though, there are still some things I wish I had known and paid more attention to the first time around.
Learn from my mistakes, friend.
Below are some of the things I wish I knew before I self-published for the first time:
1. Set a Marketing Plan
I am very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, throw-myself-in, and pray-I-tread-water kind of person. Please don’t be like me. Sit down for a minute. After your novel is written, you’ve done your editing, you’ve decided to self-publish, it’s time to jump! NO!
First, you should build an audience. That’s hard work. You should connect with book bloggers willing to read and review your novel. You should request editorial reviews for your book. Self-publishing gives you so much freedom—and so much responsibility, including marketing. It’s up to you to get your book to your audience.
*BONUS TIP: Be organized, and try to keep notes on everything from the start. Excel spreadsheets are your friend. You’ll want to keep excerpts for teasers, lists of book bloggers, contacts, beta readers, email lists, etc. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ll have several projects under your belt and find yourself irritated that you weren’t more organized from the start. Take it from the disorganization queen herself.
2. Be Patient
Patience is not my virtue. I am definitely the product of a generation addicted to instant gratification. I wanted my stuff in the hands of my friends immediately. I was proud, and excited. Now, I look back and cringe—for many reasons. Editing takes time. Marketing strategies/execution and excitement buildup take time. Everything takes time.
Do it right—and smart—not fast.
3. Keep Writing
If you are like me, and many others, and have regrets with your first attempt at publishing, just know you’re not alone. I don’t know a single author who loves their first book. In fact, I think most of us cringe when we talk about it or hear that someone is reading it. You need time to grow, learn, and develop and refine your voice—and that’s okay!
You will only improve with each and every book.
The writing community can be a beautiful and helpful tribe if you let it. Find people who help you, inspire you, motivate you, and lift you up. But also find the ones who challenge you to do—and be— better. I believe you are who you associate with, and what you put out is what you attract. Network, and find your fellow creatives. It’s important to know people who understand the process, especially because being a writer can feel so solitary and lonely at times.
5. Focus on the Good
The Internet can be an ugly place sometimes. For that reason, I avoid reading and focusing on reviews. Of course, I want people to like my work; but at the same time, I’m not just okay with constructive criticism, I love it. However, people seem to lose their minds—and/or kindness—when it comes to the Internet, and will say some pretty vile things. So, for that reason—and because I’m a sensitive soul (i.e. crybaby)—I set a rule for myself. I allow myself to read initial reviews that come in; but after that, I don’t go back to read reviews. I’m trying to grow. I write for myself. And I can’t do that if I’m focusing on the bad part of it.
All in all…
Self-publishing can be such a thrilling and rewarding journey. Help give yourself a better start by going in to the process with some tips under your belt. But also—and here’s another bonus tip for you—venture into it with grace and understanding, because sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, you may still look back at your first novel with some of that cringe. It comes with the territory, because you will constantly be improving, but always remember, everyone starts somewhere. You learn. You grow. And again, CONGRATULATIONS on writing a book!
I wish you the best of luck with your personal writing journey!
You can also check out her website, at: www.rsmedinaauthor.com