We are fortunate to live in an age when you are no longer dependent upon a publishing house to fall in love with your manuscript and publish it. You can use a myriad of online resources to publish your book, in eBook and/or paperback format. It can be an incredibly daunting experience. It is important to decide upfront if the project is a hobby or a business. The answer to the question will lead you down two entirely different paths.
A hobby is something that you do at a leisurely pace. You are not specifically seeking profit. If you do make a little money, that’s great; it just isn’t your goal. You might spend some money to participate in this activity. Depending upon the hobby, you might spend a little – or a lot. Still, it is discretionary spending. If you must decide between your hobby and feeding your family, you would give up the hobby.
A business, on the other hand, requires time, money, and energy. Your goal is profit. You devote hours to create and market a product. You make the investment because you want this endeavor to be a success.
Now, some would say that you can have both when it comes to writing. If that is your passion, yes, in theory. The old adage “find something you love, and you will never work a day in your life” is a wonderful concept. How many people do you know who have actually achieved that goal? Not many.
The brutal truth is that, while you can self publish your own work, you must decide how you will treat the task. There are literally millions of books out there. I compare publishing my first book to casting a pebble in the ocean. I always came to my original question: is it a business or a hobby?
When I published Through the Mist: Restoration, I quickly realized all the work was on me. I didn't have a publishing team behind me that would market the book, schedule interviews, create advertisements, maintain social media outlets, et cetera. I had to decide how much work I was willing to do.
The process was filled with a lot of uncertainty. Through the Mist: Restoration was my first book. I had no idea if it was good or if anyone would even buy it. I did not want to invest a lot of time or money into the “business” side of things. After all, my main purpose was to finally write a book.
I have not sold millions of copies. I haven’t even cracked 10,000 yet. It is a tremendous success to me because I have sold thousands of copies, something I never imagined would happen. I am amazed that even one person bought the book!
I have spent some money to create a website and buy books for research. I devote time to posting to my website and Facebook in addition to the hours spent writing the sequel. I have not spent any money on advertising , though. I have not contacted various parties to write reviews for the book or sought other means of promotion.
Why? Because I am still learning! I am trying to sort out what I did right, and what I could have done differently. I am researching the various outlets for promotion. In short, I am learning the business side of the endeavor. It turns out that writing the book was the easiest part.
So, what is the takeaway from this rambling blog post? If you are a writer who wants to self publish, I suggest you take a hard look at it. You can spend a ton of money and get no results. You should prepare yourself for that possibility. Then, decide how you want to approach this. If it is a hobby, don’t sink thousands of dollars into it unless you can lose that money.
If it is a business, research, research, research. Most of us do not have a marketing background, a wealth of industry contacts, and unlimited funds. Design a plan. Figure out how much time and money will be needed to execute that plan. Then, be prepared for a long road. If you are very lucky, the plan will work brilliantly and quickly. Do not get discouraged, though, if it takes time to gain traction. Remember, your book is one of literally millions out there.
Before I end this post, I do want to mention one thing I did right. I became a Goodreads author. It was free and easy. My sales jumped after I did that. I don’t understand why but am so glad!
Good luck to everyone out there. Remember, writing is meant to be fun!