Go Indie or Go Home?

Some say you have to start planning the launch and how to publish already before you begin to write the book. I find it premature. It takes away an important piece of creativity in me. All of a sudden my art, my creation becomes a business transaction, and I’m not sure if I want it to be that. Not at that point anyway. If you want to publish, of course, you have to think about it. The reason for your book project may come in have been of importance here; do you write to enhance your business or do you write because writing is what you do?

I recently took a class where the teacher was fired up about going indie when publishing. With indie I mean self-publish. She’s not alone in talking warmly about this. It is the alternative way to becoming a published author. It’s a way where you are in control of the entire process, where you get a larger portion of the royal than if you go traditional. Sounds very tempting, doesn’t it? Even though I don’t want to start thinking of publishing early in the process, this made me reflect on it. Is it that easy to self-publish? Do you automatically sell a ton of books – like this teacher have? Is the path to published heaven as straightforward and smooth as it might seem? Well if it is, I don’t need to think twice, do I?

It happens to be that I have self-published once, a process I learned a lot from. One of the things was that you can learn everything about the technical stuff you have to do to make it happen. Another was that it took so much of my time to set the book up for print and the sale, that when I was done and the book was ready – I was done with the book. I was so sick and tired of the book that I didn’t want to see it anymore. Everything that could go wrong did, but I still kept going. I made it at last, but at what cost? I didn’t have a team to help me. Of course, you can hire people to do it, which would be the wise thing to do, but if you don’t have the money to pay, very few people are interested in helping out – understandable enough. I couldn’t afford it, so I did everything myself. I was fed up with the book, with everything regarding publishing, I was ready to go home. Not to write anymore, not to publish anything. The numerous rejection letters was a message written in white on a clear blue sky – “this is not your game“. But the writing continued, I couldn’t help myself but write. I wrote for myself, made sure I sabotaged myself every time I came close to finish something, just to make sure I didn’t need to consider publishing.

The writing got more serious, and the wish to publish reappeared. I truly wanted to publish some of the books I had on my sketch. You can’t be a full-time author if you don’t sell books. I can’t make a living on half written essays, screenplays and novels shoved in my drawer. I had to think this through again. Going home was no option, maybe going indie wasn’t as bad as I experienced it the last time. Maybe I just had to learn. I listened to what she said, I started researching, what to do – what not to do. I noticed that every time I even thought about self-publishing, my heartbeat sped a little. Every time I felt the energy was drained out of me. I realised that I had to face this, to find out why I felt drained and uncomfortable. At the same time as I took this class, I listened to Simon Sinek’s audiobook, Start with why, where he explores and explains why the why in all we do is so important. I all of a sudden understood my reaction. I am a why-type as Sinek calls it, a visionary. I need a team of how-types to put my vision into something real. I had taken the role as a how-type when I self-published the last time, and that cost me a lot. It also killed my creativity. My reaction was a combination of fear and stress. I feared for killing my creativity again. The stress I experienced was tied to another aspect of my personal trait – I’m a quiet person. I like it quite. I don’t like to make a fuzz about me. The thought of all the things that need to be done when self-publishing sent my stress levels through the roof. When you go indie you need to make a fuzz if you want to sell. What I really want is to hide behind my keyboard, write the words I need to, have someone else to take care of putting the book together, do the marketing and lay out the route for the promotion – then I can promote the book as it should. Because I don’t mind a little fuzz when someone else orchestrates it. That doesn’t deplete me the same way. To boil it down – I found out that I can’t and won’t have the stress of being project manager for my own book project. This made me think if there is special personality trait for the ones that succeed in self-publishing. Maybe you need to be more extroverted? This calls for more research and a blog post dedicated to the topic.

Anyways, based on what I discovered about myself, going home isn’t an option, neither is going indie as of where I am today. Then it leaves me with aiming for being accepted by a traditional publisher. The number of submissions is sky high, the needle eye to get your script through and to become accepted is slim. On the other hand, every submission and every rejection holds an opportunity for improvement. I think I’ll go for that.