There are lots of pros and cons to whichever path of publishing you choose to pursue, and I covered a few of them on my own blog in a post that CITW shared with y’all last week (5 Reasons Why I Chose Self-Publishing over Traditional). But one of the big pros of mainstream publishing is that a lot of the work involved with the publishing process is handled for you.
While traditionally-published authors are still expected to market their own work to a degree, there are lots of promotions, giveaways, etc. that a publishing house handles for you. They also take care of things like preorders, layout and formatting, etc. Until I actually started down the indie publication road with my book The Chaos Circus, I was completely ignorant of just how time-and-thought-consuming this aspect of the process really is.
Setting dates and hitting deadlines is a PAIN. So is figuring out how to line up IngramSpark and KDP preorder launches, and making sure you don’t hit a button that launches one or the other prematurely, and double-checking your design files 100,000 times, and and and…there’s just a LOT.
My personal mistake is that over the last few months, I’ve let the whirlwind of learning about self-publishing become sort of what my writing was about. I have been constantly consumed with thinking of launch dates and release parties and giveaways, to such an extent that I’ve begun to put not-yet-written drafts into those boxes. Yes, I’m THAT obsessive. I’m literally sitting here with five-book series I haven’t written yet, trying to figure out what it’s publication schedule would look like!
The result is that I have not actually fully drafted a novel since The Chaos Circus was finished. I’ve put my babies in too small a box, and they’ve choked. I’ve been running circles with editing ever since, full of self doubt.
Y’all. If we are not careful, the process can literally destroy the passion.
So my encouragement to all of you, especially as indie authors, is this: you have to find time to still prioritize drafting. All the other stuff is important and necessary, especially when we’re our own publishing houses and the onus is on us to get things done if we want them to happen. But we lose out when we make the publication angle the priority and let the writing itself become a slave to the minutiae of the process.
You know the saying “You can’t edit a blank page?” Well you can’t publish one, either. Which means that before we ever get to planning our new baby’s cover, merch, and release date, we need to actually create it. And that means prioritizing the creation above the production and distribution aspect.
One of my workmates taught me a phrase this week: Don’t let something matter more than what matters most.
Every step of this journey of indie publishing matters, but we can’t let ourselves lose sight of why we started in the first place. Amidst the rush of deadlines and design files and figuring out how to make it in a world where you’re the writer, chief editor, marketing department and publishing house, please don’t ever forget the passion that brought you to this craft. Create new characters and worlds to play in while you’re learning how to launch another one. And always remember that beyond all the other hats and titles you’ll wear as an indie author, you are first and foremost a writer.
So be sure you make the time for writing.