Maybe that's why so many writers quit after having tested the self-publishing waters. Maybe that's why some choose traditional publishing over independent, provided they have a way in. Maybe that's why some never even dare to go all the way and shove their manuscripts in the drawers and forget about them. Because going out there on your own is fucking scary. And it's not some hypothetical scary. It's scary as in, you might need to sell your car and your house and starve. Or, if you're not a risk taker, you might need to drive your body into the grave with one, two, three jobs, writing at night, on the weekends, working like a dog and never seeing any results. Sounds brutal? It is.
I'm in the middle of this. Want to hear my fears? If you self-publish, I bet you have every one of them. And a thousand more.
1. I'm not publishing fast enough.
There is a thing going on online about something like, if you want to survive in self-publishing, you better crank out 4 books a year. I heard it from romance writers, I think. I dunno. I forgot. Doesn't matter. I set out to do just that. In 2013 I published 3 books, my first trilogy. In 2014 I published 2. No matter, I thought. In 2015 I published one. Fuck. In 2016 I will probably also publish only one. Well, 2, counting the 2nd edition of my 1st trilogy. I have slowed down. I can't produce quality shit if I don't spend enough time on it. So where did the 4-books-a-year thing go? Down the toilet. And that makes me scared, very scared. And the fact that I'm producing BETTER writing when I'm slower doesn't help me get rid of this fear.
2. I'm not selling enough books.
This is so funny it's not funny and I just want to weep like a baby and smear snot all over my face. I don't check my book sales just so I won't get disappointed. I had to login into CreateSpace today, and it happily told me that I sold 1, not 1000, but 1 single paperback copy in February. Now, I suppose I sold some ebooks and I also some paperbacks on my site, but I didn't even go to check and look. AND, more bad news. Royce was laid off last week. Ahhh!!! PRAY TO THE JOB GODS. Unless he finds a job in the next 2 months, we're fucked. I'll have to give up writing full-time and go look for a job. So if you have any riches on you, GO SUPPORT ME ON PATREON. Like, right now. Keep me writing. Keep me publishing independently. Making independent art. Saying whatever shit I want to say in my books.This fear of not enough money is like cancer biding its time, and then BAM! it's fucking all over you and you die without having the time to take a breath. Oh, you can also hire me to edit your novels. My first client Ramy Vance thinks I'm great. Wonderful life, yes? Never boring.
3. I keep missing promised deadlines.
You love asking me when the next book is coming out—in this case the Second Edition of Siren Suicides and TUBE. Well, I thought Siren Suicides will be done in February. Nope. That's why I hate giving you any kind of a date. I hate to blow it. I can't not blow it. My books are the labor of kindness of people who spend their free time on my books BECAUSE I CAN'T PAY THEM YET. For some reason they keep doing it. And I patiently wait. Sarah, my editor, is studying, and her school is priority. She does an amazingly fast job, once she finds the time. Stuart, my formatter, has other paying clients, and so he fits me into his busy schedule and I'm grateful he still has space for me. Anna, my daughter who does my covers, is finishing school and has two jobs. My requests hang until she has breathing time to even look at them. There is this thing someone said about good and cheap and fast. It can't be all three. So in my case it's good and cheap, and it ain't fast. To all of you who preordered my books, THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND SORRY FOR THE WAIT. I just emailed Stuart the last formatting changes. It's happening. It is.
4. I can't compete with traditionally published books.
This is one of those groaning moments when you open a new ink-smelling book in some bookstore and gnash your teeth in envy. The jacket has embossing which you can't do for your books unless you sell your liver. The paper is smooth and thin and velvety. The text is printed perfectly, no narrow margins, no smudged words. The spelling issues and any other issues have been caught by the many many eyes of a huge team of people who have years and years of experience. The colors are correct. The blurbs on the back are sounding killer, and written by killer writers. And so on. Then you look at your own printed book with edges cut wrong and paper too yellow and text shoved up too high and multiple spelling errors you have to fix that your kind readers send you, and for that you have to bother Stuart to recreate all those files, and...well, I better stop right here. I could write you a whole book. Like how I want my books to have hard covers, for example.
5. I'm not getting any better, maybe worse.
This fear is ridiculous, yes, but that's doesn't make it less real. I'm still baffled by the freak success of Rosehead that is not so big on the big scale of things, but it's big to me. It's selling, steadily. It's my milking cow. I'm terrified out of my mind that I won't be able to write anything as good. Yet I have written something better, Irkadura. But can you ignore the numbers? I wish I could. I tell myself they don't mean anything. And I turn around and tell myself that yes, they do, and plunge in despair. I know I'm getting better. I KNOW. And still I have this fear. If I didn't develop a thick skin throughout my life to shit like this, I would've quit writing a long time ago.
There are more fears. Smaller ones.
6. I'm writing outside of genre, so how the hell will people ever find my books?
7. I'm writing books that don't follow trends, and that means I'm basically fucked. Maybe I should write romance, with like minotaurs deflowering virgins or something.
8. I'm not tech savvy enough to do all these Amazon promotions. And proper book tags. And pre-order uploads and giveaways and whatever, like I see other self-published writers do. What is wrong with my brain?
9. I'm not as active on social media anymore. I spend more time on writing, and now it's biting me in the ass.
10. I'M DOING EVERYTHING WRONG BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL I'M DOING.
I could probably insert 20 more fears here easy. You're probably wondering by now how I'm not an emotional wreck falling apart, how I keep moving forward. I'll tell you how.
When I write, none of these fears are there. There is only me and my story and magic. Whatever I have to do to keep this going, I will. If I have to get a job, I will. If I have to sell my liver, I will. Or maybe I'll sell my neighbor's liver and pretend it's mine. Whatever. I'll find a way.
AND YOU WILL TOO.
So if you're pining and whining and moaning and wringing your hands over your self-publishing fears, know that you're not alone. I'm scared every day. Next time you're scared, think about me being scared and how we're scared together, and then you won't be as scared anymore. And I'll think about you too. Deal? Deal.
P.S.: Don't forget to send me your last money, review my books everywhere, and scream about my books to all your friends until they slam the door in your face and are your friends no more. Yes, I know, it's a heavy price to pay, but you love this much, don't you? I knew it.