When I first entered this business over two years ago, it’s pretty fair to say that I didn’t know squat about it. It would also be fair to say, that when it comes to learning how to do new things I tend to use an ‘I’ll just wing it’ approach. I know it’s not the smartest way of doing things, but I’ve always had an aversion to being taught things or reading instructions. I’m just not patient enough…so, publishing was no different.
I took just enough time to learn what I needed to to be dangerous. Basically, I was led to the self-publishing page on Amazon…from there, it was really just a matter of a few clicks before I was making a full-blown ass of myself.
My first book was a little non-fiction story about a child’s perspective on losing a parent. I wrote it for a variety of reasons, none of which were an expectation that it would ever make me tons of money. To this day, while it’s still published, I rarely mention it, I certainly don’t try to sell it. Mostly, I just like to think that those who need it will find it and then hopefully not judge me for the multitude of errors I made when publishing it.
Once I realized how easy it was to have a book on Amazon, I was on a roll. All of the projects I had been working on for the last few years suddenly had a place to go. I published my first novel, Country Girls, shortly after. Followed up with Lucky In Love pretty quickly. Both were incredible learning experiences for me and here’s why ~
When I hit publish on both of those books, I never set out to burden the world with an unprepared literary mess. It wasn’t like I just wrote them and uploaded them. No, I did the best I could with the knowledge I had and the funding available. Problem was, they both amounted to ZERO and I was only aware of that regarding the funding.
So, here’s what I didn’t know, I didn’t know…when I didn’t know.
Editing means more than just having someone check for typos and punctuation mistakes (turns out those people are proofreaders and something entirely different than editors).
A great cover requires more than a great graphic artist. There are rules. Starting with the shape (which should probably be a rectangle – as in the actual shape of a book. I know, it seems obvious now!)
Formatting involves things like page breaks and page numbers. The way it looks all neat and proper in my word document is in no way a real reflection of what it will look like on someone’s kindle…let alone in print.
The three most important steps in preparing your book are editing, cover and formatting. After reading plenty of badly written, but well edited and formatted books with awesome covers that sell like hotcakes, I can attest to this as being true. I don’t get it either.
Amazingly enough, while I was quite lacking in all of those areas when I first started, by some miracle I still managed to generate some sales and even some very positive reviews. However, I also wound up with a couple of very harsh responses from readers regarding my book’s shortcomings and those were hard to take…mostly, because I had to learn the hard way that they were right.
In the meantime, I’ve had a chance to learn a great deal about what it takes to be a contender in the world of self-publishing and while I sometimes shudder at the mistakes I made in the past, I’m glad I made them. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here now. And I like where I’m at. More importantly, I’m looking forward to where I’m going as I continue to discover what I don’t know -I don’t know, and use that new knowledge to better myself as an author and publisher.
Basically what I’m saying is this – You won’t know what you don’t know until you do it. So what if you fall flat on your face a few times? That didn’t stop you from learning to walk did it?! Why would you let it stop you now?