I’ve really only been doing the publishing thing since mid last year, so I’m sure there are things I’m doing wrong that I haven’t even caught yet. But here’s a sample of some lessons I’ve learned:
1. Do it (mostly) yourself. This is first on my list because it’s my biggest mistake. I had been trusting a third party distributor to take care of submitting all my work to Amazon, iTunes, etc. I didn’t realize, and they didn’t tell me that they had stopped distributing to certain markets (permanently? I don’t even know.) Anyway, I didn’t catch on until I read it somewhere else, and lo and behold, my stuff’s been missing from a major market this whole time. I should have gotten off my lazy ass to format and upload these stories myself. I missed out on months of potential exposure. Don’t do that.
2. There are people who have been doing it better, longer. It’s so, so hard not to hold myself up against other indies. I want my work out there, en masse, and it was hard at first not to run myself ragged trying to “keep up” with the “competition”. But there’s no way to compete with the back catalogue of a writer who’s been publishing for years already. You can write as fast as you like, and they’ll be putting out new stuff just as fast. Besides, the volume of work means nothing; it’s the quality. It took me a surprisingly long time to realize that.
3. Readers will read what they like. Period. It doesn’t matter if there are a zillion zombie stories. If someone likes zombie stories, they’re…wait for it…going to read zombie stories. A good story is a good story, and there’s room in the niches if you have a great, unique tale. You don’t have to be there first. You just have to be good.
4. Write what you want to read. Okay, check it out: I know we’re all “supposed” to read literature. We’re supposed to be cultured and erudite and know who Ishmael is. I get it. But most of the classics I’ve read bore me. I don’t get into ladies-and-carriages-and-tea unless someone dies a horrifying death. I like horror; it’s the one thing I come back to again and again. When I read, personally, I’m there to enjoy myself. You may be different. But life’s too short to read books you don’t like, and it follows that you shouldn’t force yourself to write them, either.
5. Don’t be humble. I’m putting this one here mostly as a reminder to myself. I don’t mean be a jackass; I mean don’t be afraid to talk yourself up a little here and there. It’s awkward, for me at least, to talk about my writing to people (in person). I’m surprisingly shy in certain situations, and to me it feels like I’m being pushy if I talk about my work for sale. The funny thing, though, is that I can’t very well expect people to read my stuff unless they know it exists. It’s something I’m working on.
Any other indies want to chime in? What have you discovered so far?