Real-talk time. I started blogging in February because it's something that comes highly recommended for people (like me) who are looking to find and engage an audience, but I'm just not that good at blogging. I don't really have anything to say that hasn't already been said, and by hundreds of people who can say it better, faster, clever-er than me. I've run out of ideas about things to say, or the ideas I do have aren't actually that interesting or engaging.
So, since my attempt at traditional blogging has once again managed to fall off the rails, I think it's time to try something different. This page is going to change into my writing diary, and we'll see how that feels.
(I read once that this point in my career, where I have zero people looking at me, is a good time to experiment, since no one will ever see the things that flop. I've decided to embrace that idea.)
April 1 was White Stone's first anniversary of being out in the world, so I'm a little bit late for reflecting on my first year of indie publishing*, but that's mostly because I didn't think about doing this until, like, yesterday, because that's how I do. :)
Happy (Slightly-Belated) Birthday, Kalima!
This past year has taught me a lot, not the least of which is redefining what success is to me. Here's the thing: I am not successful. I like to pretend otherwise because calling myself a author makes me happy, but like most indie authors, the last year has brought in a handful of sales and not even enough money to pay off a parking ticket.
But that's okay. 2016 was never about selling books and making money; 2016 was about getting out of my own way, overcoming the fear that has kept me from putting my words out there since college when I first started seriously thinking about publication. 2016 was about proving to myself that I could do it. And I did it. I published. I overcame the fear and insecurity that has kept me from putting my work out there my whole life.
And that means I was successful.
*Technically, April 1, 2016, was not my debut. Walls was released on Feb. 28, 2016, the day I called my "soft launch," with the story I was using to test out Pronoun as a platform. I don't talk about Walls much, because it's short and not nearly as good as the White Stone series, but it still deserves a little love, so...my love to Walls. Sorry you're so overlooked. :)
I want to talk a little about publication today, and I feel like I need to start with something particular, something that most writers with ambitions to publish still feel: traditional publication with an agent and a publishing house and all is better. There's still a touch of stigma, a scent of low-quality or "vanity publishing," with the idea of self-publishing. I get that. I feel that. I grew up in a time when self-publishing was vanity publishing. Shit, I even almost fell for the vanity publishing thing in college. (It was the company then named Publish America, now America Star Books, which is notorious across the Internet for being a scam. Fortunately for me, I found out about their bad reputation before signing anything with them.)
That was then, when Facebook was restricted to people with .edu emails, and I had a new cell phone that ohmigod you guys, takes pictures!
This is now.
Here's the cool thing about self-publishing and the ultimate reason I decided to go down its path: you don't need permission to put your words into the world. In traditional publishing, there's this funny catch-22 that you have to get an agent in order to be published, and in order to get an agent, you have to be published*. (I've found this little conundrum to be true about applying for jobs and renting apartments, too, by the way. It's very annoying and probably why first-time job/apartment seekers end up in shitty places.) But self-publishing doesn't trap you in that conundrum, and after years of dealing with that kind of vicious cycle in other aspects of my life, I didn't want to fight with it in my writing. I wanted to, as Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant's book says, Write. Publish. Repeat.
Things began to click in 2015. I bumped in to the books by Joanna Penn and the guys at Sterling & Stone (of the above-mentioned Write. Publish. Repeat.) Pronoun was a sponsor of NaNoWriMo that year, which is how I found out about it, and its user-friendly and completely free platform for creating and distributing ebooks continues to be the best thing since my discovery of Scrivener (which I also found because it was a NaNo sponsor. Hmm, I think I'm sensing a pattern...) Canva and Pixabay made designing graphics fun, and viola! I am now an indie author.
*Not always all the time, of course, or there'd be no such thing as traditional publishing. But you get it. I'm generalizing to make a point.
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