The old saying goes something like, "The more I learn, the less I know". During my recent journey to publish my novel, this little saying has popped into my mind nearly a thousand times. As I've taken each step, I've become aware of things that I didn't even contemplate before. (Who knew a query letter was a thing?) When I began the process of throwing words onto paper and rearranging them repeatedly, I had an ignorantly, blissfully, sweet way of viewing this thing called "getting published". I thought it would be as simple as creating a great story, picking an agent (little did I know the approval process would be the other way around), and finding a publisher. Ta-dah! I would be a best selling author! Wasn't I precious?
Fast forward four or five years later and my awareness has changed. Write a great novel- Check. Pick an agent - Leave blank. This may not happen quickly. I am a researcher. I've done my homework. To be completely honest, I haven't even approached one single agent. I think I've nearly talked myself out of it at this stage of the game. The word on the street is that for someone like me (never published, minuscule social media platform) finding a good agent at this point will be as easy as winning the figure skating competition in the Olympics after the winter of rest that I've enjoyed.
In an effort to narrow the gap a bit, I have decided to work on the things that I need. First, I need legitimate reviews. Second, my social platform (my fan base) needs some pumping up. And last, but not least, I feel like I stand a much better chance of attracting success with a track record of proven success! All of these goals pointed me in the direction of the one thing that formerly made me groan. Self-publishing, at least in my mind, brought about images of poorly produced copies of bad quality books that no one else wanted. The very concept had "rejection" written all over it.
Guess what guys? Turns out, self-publishing is the new trend! Self publishing is no longer a shameful thing. In fact, many traditionally published authors are now choosing to self publish for multiple reasons. Some of the logic behind doing so includes things like autonomy, bigger payout (keeping more of the royalties for yourself), more control of the number of books able to be published in a year, and many more.
Like all things DIY, self publishing is incredibly hard work. It's all on the author to make it happen. Liken it to the difference between having a home built and choosing to act as your own general contractor. When you are acting as your own general contractor (self publisher) you can choose to hire subs (editors, cover designers, etc.) or you can choose to do all the work yourself, but at the end of the project, the buck stops with you.
Doesn't that sound exciting? It did to me, too! Self publishing meant that I didn't have to wait for permission from someone else to get my book into the hands of readers, that I didn't have to wait to hunt for official reviews, and that I could make things happen on my own timeline. I've heard horror stories of authors waiting for years before anyone discovered their work. This could still happen to me. I'm not ruling out the traditional publishing route. But in the meantime, I'm going to do everything in my power to make something happen now. Everyday I'm learning, listening to those who have gone before me, and doing. I'm putting one foot in front of the other, in faith that there will be a path before me. If there is no path, then I have faith in my ability to clear one.