My Decision to Self-Publish — The Emotional Component

I had half a post written and then scrapped it. It’s hard to write about being nervous. We do it to our characters all the time, but we don’t want to admit to it personally, except mabe to our closest friends. I think occasionally we ought to, just so others know they’re not alone.  Most of the blogs and books I’ve read about self-publishing focus on the changing face of tradpub and why that makes going indie a good choice for many. It worked for me.  I finally took in enough positive information that it outweighed the fear.

What fear?  The fear that I’d do it wrong, whatever that is. The fear that even with a professionally covered, edited, and formatted book, I’ll still only sell twenty copies to my friends and family. What if, despite the postitive feedback I’ve gotten from multiply published authors and professional editors, the readers don’t like it? What if, despite all evidence to the contrary, my stuff stinks on ice?  If I self-publish, everyone will know that I can’t really write. 

Irrational? Yes. Fear often is.

I don’t fear that anymore. It could still happen, but I don’t fear it.  But it took me a while to get there.  What helped?  Reading lots. Talking with people who’d already done it, and hadn’t died. Doing it simultaneously with a friend. A supportive and encouraging spouse. Recognizing that I was happy and excited about self-publishing. (Physiologically, anxiety and excitement are pretty much identical — it’s all in how you interpret events.)

What else held me back? Inertia. It’s hard to change trajectory even when the old path isn’t getting you where you want to go. Is it crazy to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results?  The funny thing is, sometimes the results are different. After collecting my share of rejections, I sold one of my novels, Veiled Mirror,  to a small press. Getting that external validation gave me that extra bit of confidence to go out on my own.

I know that every self-publishing effort isn’t a success story. My sales may be far less than I hope.  But not to try is to surely fail.

The funny thing is, now that I’m moving forward, I wish I’d started a year ago.

15 Comments

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15 responses to “My Decision to Self-Publish — The Emotional Component

  1. Frankie,

    I wasn’t afraid I’d do it wrong, but I was afraid that maybe my books were just so-so, even though the first won the Golden Heart and the second took 2nd place in the Orange Rose. I didn’t really think about that too much until I read your blog.

    What a wonderful relief it was to see readers enjoying my books. It’s not a fluke, or people wouldn’t be coming back for the second one. I just sold the most copies of my second book in one day–75. Yay!

    But I am finding myself questioning the writing of my third book. What if it isn’t as good? Then I remind myself that it’s the first draft–of course it isn’t good. Even Nora Roberts is rumored to stress about her books when she’s in the middle of writing them. 🙂

    • Debra, congratulations on your great sales! I love hearing the success stories of other writers. It helps to disprove the lie that only the “big name authors” can succeed at this.

      I can’t remember which author said it, but I think a certain amount of self-doubt is the natural state of writers. 🙂

  2. Oh yeah, I was afraid of self-publishing because agents were saying if you did this, you could ruin your chances of ever getting traditionally published by the big boys. I worried I might screw it up as far as formatting went. That readers might not like what I wrote after all. 10,000 book sales later, I’m overcoming my fear. 🙂 But more than anything, I’m building a new fan base for some of my books and loving the freedom that self-publishing gives me.

    I’m an eclectic reader and writer. I love reading a variety of kinds of works, and I love writing them. It helps me to make each of my Sourcebooks werewolf books different by working on other stories that take me out of that world, and when I return to it, I’m refreshed and ready to write a brand new werewolf book. With 10 written and three more contracted, that’s really important to me!

    But then, every time I turn in a book to my publisher, I worry if it will be something she loves too. Or whether fans will love it. Or whether it will do well at the “box office.” The fear is natural and normal. Conquering the fear and pushing forward is the key. 🙂

  3. Thanks for this post, Frankie. Not being “good enough” is my biggest fear about jumping into the indie publishing pool. I need to work on this one!!

  4. I’m one of those where it is hard to change once I’m on a path so I’ve been gathering all sorts of info, too. Glad it’s worked out for you!

  5. Frankie,
    You touched on some things that I’ve been dealing with myself. I’m going to self-publish a novella soon, and it’s a little frightening, but for me, the excitement outweighs the fear. 🙂 This story’s been a labor of love for me. I hope readers love reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I can’t allow my fears to stop me from telling stories just because I’m afraid that readers won’t like them. 🙂
    I want to have fun on this self-publishing journey. 🙂 Whenever I start to feel myself becoming stressed out, I take away all the emotional clutter in my mind and bring it back to just the story and the characters. We can’t control everything, even though we do with self-publishing. I love surrendering to my characters, because I’m reminded of why I’m doing this. It’s the freedom to tell the stories I want to tell. 🙂
    Thanks for such a great post. 🙂

    • Abbey, you are so right, we can’t control everything, but we can control what we put out and when. As for the stress, I like the way you put it, taking “away all the emotional clutter in my mind and bring it back to just the story and the characters.” That’s what’s most important: the writing.

  6. I was asking this question of a friend yesterday. She and two others are putting out a self-pubbed anthology, their first publishing venture. She said they have set up six beta readers and a professional editor and that gave her the confidence to publish. The more I think about it, the more I think I’m heading this direction. But I agree, it takes a self-confident or really desperate person to get out there and say, “hey, here it is and i think its great, what do you think?” Am i there yet? No, but I’ve decided to figure it out. I’m sure your books are great and you have the wherewithal to stick this out. Even “regularly” published authors get bad reviews. Its the business!

  7. I would not have jumped into the pool but friends pulled and shoved me in. I knew my stories were good ones and I loved my characters. I can write and I know it. (Not bragging here, but my rejections said the writing was good and the characters were worthy and …) I just didn’t know if I could do the formatting or if folks would bother to read my stuff. I did know the NY publishers weren’t buying the projects I sent.
    I’m glad I joined Indie friends and have some sales and good comments.

    Good blog!

  8. I wish I’d started a year ago, too.

  9. All authors face fear on publication, whether traditional or indie. I think there’s an insecurity gene linked very tightly to the writer gene. I think one of the reasons I keep procrastinating on finishing the revisions on my WIP is the fear that then I’ll have to take the next step, whether that be the traditional or the indie route.

    I’m following your journey closely and wish you the best of luck.

    • I think there’s an insecurity gene linked very tightly to the writer gene.

      I’ve often had the same thought myself!

      Elise, you’ve already made progress if you’ve recognized that your procrastination is linked to fear. The problem with some emotions is that they’re sneaky little bastards, and often masquerade as something else.

      The big picture can be daunting. What helps me to not freak-out at the enormity of what I’m doing is to only occasionally lift my head long enough to look at the big picture, then I put my head down again and just take the next step, and the next, and the next. Then, when I lift my head again, I’m closer to my goal.

      Good luck to you. (Although “Luck favors the prepared mind.” — Socrates? Pasteur? ) Push through. Keep writing, and keep moving forward.

  10. Pingback: Self-Publishing — The Emotional Component, Continued « Frankie's Soapbox

  11. Pingback: Self-Publishing — How I Began « Frankie's Soapbox

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