We’re all on some sort of journey, aren’t we? Check back here
periodically to find out more about G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s journeys
through the literary world and through life.
Sometimes I act like I know what I’m doing. Sometimes people think I do. Sometimes I can even fool myself. Like when I decided to independently publish this novel, and wondered just how hard it could be, which reminds me of a thought I had 17 or so years ago when I wondered how hard raising three boys could be.
I made a list of to-do’s with target completion dates (for the book, not for the boys – although the target completion dates for the boys were, in fact, self-evident).
And voila! Here I am. Publishing a book. Piece of cake.
So, for those who wonder what is entailed in independently publishing a novel, here’s a brief rundown.
1. Write the damn book
Sounds easy! The first draft of The Damnable Legacy of A Minister’s Wife was written way back in 2006 (I think) after an idea about a midlife mountaineer came to me in a discussion led by Donald Maass at a Willamette Writers conference. I sent the draft off to my agent, and it disappeared along with her. Ever hopeful she’d resurface, I set the manuscript aside and redirected my focus: I wrote numerous short stories about the characters in this novel, and I earned an MFA. After graduating in 2009, and after finally deciding the agent was probably not going to come back, I spent the next eighteen or so months revising the novel from head to toe, based not only on what I’d learned in school and my own harsh critiques but also based on the input from my writing group, a developmental editor, and Nikita, my now dearly departed cat, who frequently revised the text with a long, swift stroke of her paw. I completed the manuscript (for the most part) by the end of 2011, spent the next year trying to peddle it, and the next year making revisions and meandering along the peddling trail again, until finally arriving at January 1 of this year (2014, for those wondering) with a decision to publish it myself. I sure hope there’s a learning curve because I’m not anxious to have eight years pass from conception to publication for every book. Not with all the writing plans I have.
2. Hire support staff
Being a self-published author is essentially being an entrepreneur, and I recognized right away that I’d need an accountant, CEO, marketing manager, production supervisor, and sales rep, along with various consultants in the fields of editing, web design, and formatting. Since I’m a recovering CPA, I didn’t really need to hire the accountant. Also, as a former CPA, I knew right off the bat that I couldn’t actually afford to hire most of those other positions. Which meant I was going to have to do most of that work myself, except for the stuff I really, really couldn’t do or really, really didn’t want to do. The people I hired included 1) editors, 2) web designers, 3) cover artist and designer, and 4) formatter/uploader. The rest of the work, including developing a strategic vision, creating and enforcing a budget, developing and executing a marketing plan, overseeing all production content, and getting the word out pretty much has rested on my shoulders. Good thing I got a business degree once upon a time.
3. Reach out to the world
This is the most frightening part of all, because once you tell people you’re publishing a book, you’ve got to either follow through or sign up for witness protection, except that I’m pretty sure WITSEC doesn’t accept you just because you’ve embarrassed yourself. If they did, there’d be lots of authors already in WITSEC’s files, not only from failing to publish but also from failing period. In fact, the whole idea of self-promotion is so uncomfortable for most authors (including yours truly) that this is probably the biggest obstacle to self-publishing. The good news is that reaching out is self-directed and you get to decide to whom you will reach out. The bad news is that I’m also a recovering masochist, and the list of people with whom I’ve already connected, or with whom I plan to connect, is never-ending: experts and readers to include in the acknowledgements; authors to give me a blurb; authors who’ve previously trad-published and/or self-published to give me advice; bloggers to let me guest blog; poets and musicians to participate in my book launch; bookstores to host a book launch event; journalists to interview me; reviewers to review the work; friends, family members, colleagues, book groups, and other sketchy characters to be on my mailing list and/or read and/or review and/or promote the book; and complete strangers on various social media sites to friend, like, tweet, post, share, pin, and otherwise spread the word.
So that’s it! Three Easy Steps to Publishing Your Novel.
Maybe my next post should be Three Easy Steps to Raising Your Sons.
Then again, maybe not.
Truth: I’m not there yet…with the book or the boys. But July 2014 is the target completion date for both projects. And then it will be time to sit back. Relax. And find out just how well I (hopefully) did.