Since I’ve begun this blog and been contemplating self-publishing, I’ve read a lot–articles, blog posts, books–about “how” to do it. Some of these have been intensely practical how-to guides; some have purported to tell “the way” to do it, with the insinuation that if you follow these steps exactly, presto! your book will be a hit.
I’ve read a lot, and I think it’s time to blow the whistle: that ain’t the truth of it.
Rather, I contend, even amidst this publishing revolution, no one–not the Big Six publishers, not the editors, not readers, not how-to-get-published writers, and certainly not Susie-Q author–has a damned clue of what makes one book a success while the other oozes.
Sure, we have some rough ideas: well-edited copy, a nice book cover, a smattering of time spent on social media, an interesting story idea, write in a popular and accessible genre. But, it seems to me, you can have all of those things AND work your butt off AND spend a bunch of money on supposed aids to success and still not have it take off.
I don’t say this to disappoint you.
In fact, I find this liberating.
Because if the common thread in self-publishing success stories (read Hugh Howey’s excellent piece on his success here, or this short article about yet another rise-from-obscurity author here) is a random blessing from the universe, the pressure is off! I don’t have to follow the rigorous social media schedules, or do the 50-states-book-tour, or dress up in zany costumes. In fact, it almost seems that the opposite is more effective: work on something you love, even if it is sort of crazy (maybe especially so), and just send it out into the universe. Maybe it’ll pick up steam. Maybe it won’t. But you don’t have to stress and labor and allow yourself to work until you hate yourself and your work.
Isn’t that a revolutionary idea? If no one knows exactly how the magic happens, then you are free to find the magic that works for you!
There’s no 12-step plan. There’s just you, your stories you want to tell, and the universe.