Let's Set the World on Fire
What and who are the true measures of Indie publishing success?
By Pandora Poikilos
Deep within each of us, there is a burning desire to leave an immortal mark of ourselves for future generations. Writers are no different. Most of us look forward to the day when our books will outlive us and 1000 or 1 million, if someone in 2055 is reading our books, then our work is done.
So, writing isn't all about the money. But let's be honest, we all want to be paid writers. We don't want to slog at one job when our heart and soul is set on writing. But can it be as successful as some people say it is? Newsflash - you're the only person who can answer that question.
First, how badly do you want it?
As a teenager, I knew I wanted to write, all my life. I got a scholarship for my degree, worked part time all through university and then applied for the journalism internship of a lifetime. But I got sidetracked. Life stepped in. I was diagnosed with IIH (Intracrannial Hypertension). Medical bills piled up, writing took a backseat. Then in 2010, I had my VP shunt surgery. I felt alone, and caved in so I picked up a pen. The words came and so did the books.
Bottomline - don't wait for things to go your way so you can write. Write now, and keep writing. One hour a day, 30 minutes a day. Something is better than nothing. If you want something badly enough, you will find a way. Yes, I've sold close 120,000 books but I've also worked as a cashier, a typist, a proofreader and sold handmade jewellery at a flea market among other things to get to where I am. Frequent Traveller was finished with me dictating and Peas writing for me. He was my eyes when I couldn’t see. If I can do it, so can you. Success is the destination you reach when you know where you're going. But it's your journey so guess who has the answer about your success?
Build bridges, don't burn them
A few weeks ago, fellow author Paul Rega was doing a promo for his book, he asked if I could help him send out some tweets. I did. Last week when Peas and I launched our recipe book, he returned the favour. He is one of the many authors I know who has helped me on my journey.
Bottomline - Don't harass people into buying or reading your book. Don't expect your book to sell because you purchased one advertising campaign. A fruit tree doesn't grow and yield fruit overnight. Plan, work, tweak, adjust, talk to other writers, connect, build relationships ... books are forever. Learn what works for you. It'll take time and patience but again how badly do you want this to work?
Stay away from negativity
As readers or writers, it is extremely easy to be negative about someone else's work. "This is how it should be" and "that is how it shouldn't be" Yes, for spelling, grammar and punctuation, there are only so many acceptable variations but ideas ... these are the very essence that signifies who a person is. In all my more than 30 years, I have slept through every Star Wars movie I have ever seen. I cannot name ten differences between Star Trek and Star Wars because it almost feels the same to me. How I can hear the gasps of shock. But yes, neither appealed to me. I had an elder brother who tried to educate me, and many friends and at least one ex-boyfriend who failed miserably. It just never sank in. Imagine me telling George Lucas or George Roddenberry that their shows were the worst thing ever.
Bottomline - Just because you don't like an idea, that doesn't make it the worst book written. If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all. Strangely enough, negativity has a way of coming back to you one way or another. If you must point out flaws then be constructive, not negative. On the other end, when you have received a negative review, don't get your knickers in a twist. Some people think it is essential to throw pebbles in your shoes. Ask yourself three questions - Did you give it your all? Did you give it your best? How could you have done it differently? Not all of us write to be loved, sometimes a story needs to be and told it shall be.
But my publisher said ...
As the process of self-publishing becomes more accessible, numerous people are seen to take advantage of this situation and not in a good way. Take for example Publisher X. A few weeks ago this publisher swapped Author A's book on Amazon. Publisher X used the same cover and author’s name but changed the synopsis to erotic content. Overnight, reviewers found themselves linked to a book they had never reviewed and wouldn’t want to review. The author was bad-mouthed and all promotional work for her book seemed to be flushed down the toilet. Drama nobody needed. This was the same publisher that publicly shamed one of his authors over the Thanksgiving holiday to the point she filed a restraining order against him. There are also numerous 'independent' publishers who use this status to sidetrack royalty issues and treat an author's book like it's the least important thing in the world. Their excuses are endless - not enough funds, not enough manpower, they know the industry better. But again, it’s your book and it’s your story. How do you want it to be remembered?
Bottomline - Yes, it isn't easy to do book cover design, editing, formatting and marketing on your own. Most times, it is impossible. But publishers aren't the only people who can help you. There are numerous freelancers who are good at what they do. Do a bit of research. Join some writing groups. Ask around. Yes, it'll take time and yes, it'll cost you money. But put some cash aside, do it step by step. A little hardship in the beginning saves you from a lot of unnecessary drama later on.
When I was a freelance reporter, my interview request for one particular personality was repeatedly rejected. I was distraught. A quote from him was crucial to add credibility to the article. My editor wasn’t at all sympathetic and only told me that there's more than one way to skin a cat. So I kept trying, and he finally agreed to meet me at the airport before a flight to South Africa. I had 30 minutes to ask him at least 10 questions.
Bottomline - things aren't going to fall from the sky and into your lap. Sales will slow down. Things can and will go wrong. Be creative. There's always one more road to take. Writing is a journey, no one said it'll be an easy, straight road. Sales are low? Organize a book tour, put together a twitter campaign, work on book store appearances, look at sites like eReader News and Kindle Nation. Possibilities are endless and there are people who can help you. So, again how badly do you want this to work?
I wish you success and perseverance. You and I separately are just one different book but together and in the words of the band Fun, "Let's set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun.
About the Author
Books by Pandora