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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