6 Rules for Self-Publishing

Almost a year has passed since I released my first novel to the public eye. The adventure involved mutual parts frustration, enthusiasm, and stubbornness. I tangled with kindle formatting, shifty covers, sleepless nights, and grammar errors. Now that my first book, God Strain, has been re-released with many corrections, I’m taking a moment to summarize what I’ve learned.

1. Don’t set an aggressive, arbitrary deadline.

Think you’ll be proofed and published within a month when you haven’t had any beta readers? Don’t try for it. In fact, don’t set a deadline at all. Many people, like myself, will rush into publishing something that doesn’t represent their best work. Don’t rush the entire process. Know your work and yourself. Push yourself to develop the best book you are capable of, then set a deadline.

2. You are not the same author today as you were yesterday, and that’s ok.

If your skill set isn’t growing, you aren’t pushing yourself. Something you wrote years ago might not showcase your talent or style like something you wrote today. Self-publishing involves turning a sharper eye to every word you commit to print, and this will change your perception of what kind of author you are. Don’t get frustrated if the old-you doesn’t live up to new-you expectations.

3. Know the Score.

Most authors go unread. Most work will go undiscovered. Your friends will not trample each other to read your book. Hell, they might not read it at all. Try not to let this disappoint you. Publishing itself must satisfy you on some level. While everyone craves approval of peers and loved ones, the work itself must be good enough. Pursuit of fame will leave you bitter.

4. Perfection is the goal.

Your book becomes your ambassador in the literary market. People will judge you on things like grammar, the Oxford comma, and benign word choices. Don’t let poor presentation undermine the perceived quality of your book.

5. Perfection sucks.

Face it: perfection isn’t going to happen. You will never be done editing. There is always a different way to say something, another word you could have used, or a better idea. You will stare at your words so long that you can no longer see them.You will miss things. Some self-forgiveness is necessary. Come to terms with your work. Find a balance between professionalism and creativity that gives you peace.

6. Keep writing.

The process will eat you up if you allow it. Don’t let stories die inside you because you’re too busy with the marketing, financing, and aesthetic factors of publishing.

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