Things You Don’t Think About When You Decide to Self-Publish

The last couple of months have been pretty hectic. Since choosing in April to self-publish my new book Echoes, it’s been kind of a whirlwind of working out how to actually enact the technicalities of doing just that.

The decision to self-publish can feel like quite a liberating one at the time. “I’m finally going to get my work out there!” “One quick and it’ll be up on Amazon like the pros!” It can feel empowering, like a dramatic taking control of your own creative destiny – or whichever suitably epic analogy you want to apply to it. In fact (continuing the LOTR theme from my last blog), if you will, it’s like a writer’s version of saying “whatevs” to the Council of Elrond and valiantly proclaiming, “I will take the ring to Mordor!”

Frodo

However, as Frodo discovered all too well, the journey to achieving grand goals is not always an easy one, especially if, like him, you “do not know the way”. When I decided to self-publish, I most certainly did not “know the way”. I mean, I wasn’t completely naïve about some of the practicalities it might entail. In effect, I’d sort of self-published before in producing the album for The In-Between, and I had looked into the various companies and routes you could take… But, like many things, self-publishing is actually quite different when you really try to do it, as opposed to just imagining yourself doing it (in a spectacularly cool and slick fashion).

The reality? Well, it has involved days – nay, weeks – of editing and re-editing a one hundred thousand word document. It has included various nightmares relating to the formatting of e-books from Word documents (oh my goodness, the horror, I can’t even…). It has required the reading numerous blogs about which self-publishing companies to use for what, followed by endless pages of said companies’ terms and conditions once you’ve made your decisions. Add to this the filling out of fourteen – yes, FOURTEEN – different, near indecipherable tax forms for various of these, the instructions for one of which took an entire paragraph simply to explain how to correctly fill out your name!

And the thing is, on top of simply doing all that stuff, is that the pressure of all of it ultimately going right is all on you. In most creative ventures, you end up working as part of a team; there to buoy each other when things aren’t going so well, or you really don’t know what “non-resident beneficial owner” means no matter how many times your read it, or you’ve just found another typo in the document you’ve already checked ten MILLION times and it’s too late to change it… (I am starting to understand why traditional publishing houses often take a year between signing a book and releasing it.) But self-publishing can feel like a rather lonely and exposed thing to do at times.

Frodo Sad

Yes, the road to Mordor is a hard one. And that’s just the practicalities of making a physical print copy and e-book available. (We haven’t even got on to the minefield that is attempting to market it, when you’re sending emails up to half nine on a Saturday night, instead binge-watching The Originals on Netflix like you should be…)

But, you know what, while I may be sliiiiiightly stressed and exhausted by trying to do all this in a vaguely professional manner, I still wouldn’t change my decision to attempt it. Cliché or not, I really do still want to “get my work out there”. I want to share this story and I’m prepared to work my arse off to get it as close to professional as I possibly can. Even come September 8th, when it’s all unleashed on the wider world – to work out alright or collapse in a highly dramatic fashion – I still think I’ll be glad I tried it. To be super cheesy now and quote a line from The In-Between, “If I fail, at least I gave it all.”

So, bring on the tax forms; I will take the ring to Mordor!

Laura x

Twitter: @LauraTisdall
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