A Love Letter to Self-Publishing. (Maybe.)
This? Really all you need to know about me.
(Also available in a lovely soft yoga tank, in case you're so inclined.)
Where did this INTENSE will to persist come from. Dunno. Divine is my best guess, but I'm owning this character trait like a boss, because it continues to serve me well, especially during this adventure into the roller coaster ride that is self-publishing.
'Cause damn you self-publishing. You can be kinda a bitch.
And while (too many times to count really), I've wanted to take you into the nearest dark alley and beat you into a pulp, somehow I've come out of this adventure learning a whole lot more about myself.
So here goes. Let's wrap this last day of this #DontSettle Summer with a public acknowledgement of the top five things you've taught me.
Sometimes a girl just needs a record of how far she's come.
And sometimes, she just needs to share her experiences with the world, because while no doubt there is shared strength in the struggle, there's even more strength in shared survival:
1. I wrote a damn book. Yeah. No shit. But unless you've actually written a book, you probably, no definitely, don't know the self-discipline it takes to write a damn book. We live in a world where writers get so little respect, because everyone can technically write. Newsflash: Writing is a craft. An art. A gift. Own it!
2. Once upon a time, I saw self-publishing as a failure. That somehow not being accepted into the traditional system made my work less worthy or important. Or that I was a second-rate talent.
Nah. Not even close.
Self-published authors are bad ass. Why? Because no one is pushing us to finish our projects OTHER THAN OURSELVES! My book could have easily resided on my computer, well, forever. Who would have noticed, other than moi. But eventually just completing the project, became the most important motivator. Not money. Not fame. Not having an agent. Just finishing what I started.
Lesson? Own your tenacity, because sometimes that's all you've got.
3. Finishing a book, and packaging it into a beautiful final product, with, say, a cover, is a great way to weed out the haters. Who, fricken knew? As a self-published author, here's what you're guilty of: Talking the talk. No doubt, because this dream takes time, you've probably been talking about it. Maybe for a while. (Waving. Ten plus years.)
You've also probably been making moves behind the scenes that no one knows about other than you, your dope husband, and the literal hundreds of agents you've queried. Or the students in that fiction writing class at Brown. Or the agent who finally asked you to the publishing prom, only to quit the business. Or the editor, whose comments made you realize the book she was reading wasn't the one you were trying to write, at all, inspiring you to rip it apart and start all over again.
Nope. The haters are just hearing you talk and talk and talk about your (imaginary) book. The one they truly believe will never see the light of day. Until it does. But instead of being incredibly happy for you, the haters hate. Their anger? Completely understandable. Only the target's a bit off. And instead of being pissed at you, for showing them up, with your drive, they probably should be more pissed at themselves for underestimating you in the first place. B-O-O-M!
4. You're probably gonna suck, at least at first, at selling your words, yup, even if you have a background in public relations/journalism. The problem? It's super hard to make that shift from dreamy fiction writer to thinking like a salesperson.
All. The. Time.
Indeed, potential new readers are everywhere: Like the Ladies Room on New Year's Eve. Or the Alicia Keys Today Show Concert on the Plaza in NYC. Or that Greek Life College Recruitment Party that you happen to wander into on the beach. But it won't help the cause very much if you only realize this once you get home.
No doubt you'll need to create a detailed, innovative marketing plan. One that you can test and rework objectively, while at the same time not taking the success of the plan, or your book sales personally.
Reminder: You. Are. Not. Your. Numbers. You are not your reviews. Your worthiness as a person is not wrapped up in the success of your campaigns. Or contests. Or re-tweets. Got it? Good. Me too.
5. Pick an end date. Nah. Not for retirement from writing, as my horrified dental hygienist thought I was describing on my last visit. More like a finish date for your current project where you can celebrate your damn accomplishments. Of simply finishing. Bravely putting it out in the world. Selling it. To complete strangers (for which I am eternally grateful and still trips me out).
This date, which just happens to be today for me, is also about looking forward in anticipation to the future. Of the opportunities that you don't even know exist. Of the seeds that you may have already planted (like, maybe in early June, hollah!) or the ones that you're currently sowing right now. And truth be told, I'm bubbling over in anticipation.
Because I, am just getting started.
And for you, Settling Down, my literary partner in crime, here's the Oscar speech you'll probably never get. (Unless Netflix or Jennifer Aniston make you into a movie. Stranger things have happened.) Anyway, thanks for helping me grow. As a writer. As a person. Thanks for reminding me who my biggest cheerleaders are, even if they'd look kinda scary in a short, pleated skirt. Thanks for teaching me about cover design, page formatting and numerous hard ass technical skills I hope I never have to use again. Thanks for reminding me that writing is passion. But more importantly, my calling. I'll try not to doubt it again. (Or at least not every other day.)
And rest assured that I'll never, ever, settle.
We done good kid.