When I told people that I self-published my book, many of them asked me if I would be willing to give some advice about this process. So, I decided that when I was ready, I would write something practical.
I've read many articles on self-publishing and what experts say about this process and the things we must do in order be successful are true, including creating a marketing campaign, making your book available on all outlets, organizing book readings/signings, and engaging your audience through social media.
So, because so much of that information is already available, I will not get into the nuts and bolts of the process. My advice is a little more practical and focused on the emotional well-being of the self-publishing author because, let's be honest: self-publishing is stressful as hell. I came up with three things I've learned (and still learning) about self-publishing: support, accepting help, and not taking things personally.
Over the last month I've been surprised by those who have shown support and those who haven't and I'm not talking about book sales. You have to learn what support looks like. People tend to support those who've been supportive of them which means that it's also our job to support fellow writers and novelists that we know. This is something I must continue to work on.
What support looks like is people asking about the book and talking it up to their friends. It is showing up to events and being a face in the crowd we enjoy seeing. Support is the text message that we get from people saying they bought the book or they finished it. Support is also people telling us that even though they haven't purchased the book or haven't shown up to events, they still admire us and what we're doing.
It's also a huge step to accept the help of others. If you are like me and have a full time job, receiving help is powerful. It's also a sign of staying humble because we aren't too proud to accept help. We need to recognize what help looks like because not all critiques of the book are negative. People who care will be very frank and honest because they want to see the very best version of what we have to offer as much as we do.
The most important thing I've learned is to not take things personally. When self-publishing a book, it is important to manage self-expectations. This is something that needs to be monitored and adjusted often. False expectations are what can hurt a first time author. I've learned to stay humble while keeping it simple.
None of us can afford to fall for statements like, "I will put it on my list" or "I'm going to buy the book." Maybe they will and maybe they wont, it's our job not to take anything personally. We never know what's going on in the lives of our potential audience. They may have every intention to buy the book but just not now. There are some who say this because what else are they going to say? People we know won't tell us that they're not going to buy the book unless they don't like us--in which case, why associate with them?
One must also understand that despite the numbers out there, not many people read leisurely and of the ones that do won't read a book from someone who is just starting out unless they hear it from word of mouth. We have to equate book shoppers to those who shop for clothes. Lots of people would much rather go for name brands, but plenty of people prefer bargains from well-known retailers and companies.
So when I say don't take it personal when someone tells you that they must read your book and their next Instagram photo is of them reading Gone Girl -- I really do mean it. There is enough room for everyone we just need to hustle smarter and not harder.
The best thing about support: there are no time limits.