Hello Koryos I was wondering if you have any tips for some aspiring novelists who want to self publish (or just finish their novels lol )
Tips? Do I have tips? Umm.
Well, as for finishing your novel, I do have some tips: set deadlines for yourself, and then keep
them. That’s the hardest part. Tell yourself, “I’m going to finish x
amount of words or one chapter by this time each week,” or something
similar. It doesn’t matter how slow your progress is- in fact, I
recommend you don’t set goals that are too lofty right away, because
it’s more likely you’ll give up on them.
The point is to make
continual progress. For example, every time I realize the fact that
I’ve been working on Earthcast since December of 2014, I’m shocked- it
doesn’t feel like that much time has passed. I’m even more shocked when I
realize that at roughly 300,000 words, the story is nearly finished.
year to finish a first draft may seem like a long time to you. But it’s
still shorter than eternity, i.e., the amount of time it would take if
you never finish your book.
Oh: and beyond the most basic spelling/grammar stuff, don’t edit as you write. That happens later. If you edit as you write the first draft, it is… going to take much longer. Possibly forever. Just write the dang thing first.
Sometimes you write a complete novel and realize it’s crap that you have to throw away. But that’s ok. It happens.
It’s still important because it was valuable practice. Yeah- practice!
People seem to think that writing is a skill that is gifted from the
holy loins of some great writer deity: either you have it or you don’t.
That is um, incorrect. If you look at my first full novelettes compared
to what I write now, you will see a WORLD of difference. The difference
is called “experience.” So never, ever consider ANY writing you do
worthless, because it’s all building up your skill. Even if it looks
crappy. It’s a pile of crap you climb on to get to the top, okay?
This kind of segues into the other part of your question: on self-publishing. Speaking of climbing a pile of crap- that’s all part of publishing, whether traditional or on your own. The basic facts: you’re going to do a lot of work and you might end up spending more money that you make. Yes, really, even though self-pubbing is supposedly the “cheap and easy” option. In fact, it’s honestly the “expensive and hard” option, in my experience.
(This isn’t to say that traditional publishing is exactly easy, but at least it comes with a little help. Not that you’re going to make much money as a writer either way!)
does self-publishing cost money? Well, you gotta do everything
yourself. Editing: if you want it to look professional, you can either
ask some friends of yours to do this time-consuming task for free, or
hire a professional. Money! Same goes for cover art. I hired the
talented Aliza Layne
to do my cover art for me, and saved a little money by doing the text
and backgrounds myself (was this a mistake? Possibly). If you want
professional cover art, you need to pay a professional price. Marketing:
you can make ads. The ad + the ad space you put it up on = even more
money. If you want to make hard copies, congratulations, that costs more
money for proofs and expanded distribution.
Then there’s the question of exposure. It is very, very difficult for a self-pubbed book to get decent exposure on the internet of today. Take me: on tumblr, I have roughly 15,000 followers. That’s a few thousand pairs of eyes that might happen to see anything I post about my books. (Like this link to the page detailing where each one is listed for sale! Wowie!) You’d think that’d give me good exposure, and that exposure = sales.
But the fact of the matter is, with all those thousands of possible customers, I’ve sold less than 300 books. Success in the author world means you move at least 2,000 copies. That’s the bare minimum; 10,000 sales is much healthier. Granted, I didn’t invest in advertising, and I never did intend the Darkeye series to make me much money. (I never intended to publish it at all initially- thank you, dear readers, for supporting me!) But my point is that even if you build up an audience, if you want adequate pay for all the work you’ve done- and writing is such, such undervalued work- you’re going to have a very hard time getting it.
That’s the most frustrating thing. There are so many people out there with great stories to tell who just can’t afford the time, energy, and yes, money that it takes to write a novel. (And for those comfortably upper-class authors who look down their noses and claim that authors who don’t make it just didn’t work hard enough- from their expensive writer’s retreats and agent conference money and ability to not have full time jobs for long periods of time- I say: screw you!)
So if you have a hard time sticking to those daily goals I mentioned earlier, because, as a point of fact, writing isn’t your full time job, I’m not going to sneer at you. It’s hard. It’s incredibly hard, and unrewarding, and for those that give up: I don’t blame them.
…Mm, that got a little lower than I intended it to be. I’m absolutely not trying to discourage anybody from self-pubbing. Heck, in my mind, anything that makes the Big 5 publishers sweat is a great thing to do just for its own sake. (Did you know about the horrible monopoly of traditional publishing?) And you know what? I’m not sorry that I published the Darkeye series, both as a webnovel and as edited books. It feels damn good to know that people are reading- not just reading, but enjoying, making fanworks, feeling inspired by- a silly story about talking dogs that popped out of my brain. That is still an incredible feeling for me. And if that’s what you want- I say, go forth, young champion, and write.
Ok, so tl;dr. Here are my tips:
- To finish a novel, set deadlines for yourself, don’t edit as you write, and be patient: it’s going to take longer than you expect.
- For self publishing: accept that it probably isn’t going to let you quit your day job. Persevere. Invest in editing, good quality cover art, and advertising as much as you can afford. Make your book look like something people will want to display proudly on their coffee table.