The Burden of Self-Publishing

Posted: June 7, 2016

During the night of May 27 to May 28, I self-published my first novella on Amazon, The Burden of the Protector (set in the world of Tyronia). It was planned for May 30, but as I was experimenting with the Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) interface, I unwittingly clicked a button that sent the story out into the world.

My initial reaction was one of terror. Then, I felt a wave of relief. Finally, it was done!

This kind of trial and error describes most of my past three years, from the first draft of The Burden of the Protector, completed in January 2013, to the premature launch above. It was a long road, during which I learned a lot about writing and the process of self-publishing.

Each author goes through a different path and faces different challenges. For me, the most difficult was to take that final gamble and put a story out there, knowing it was not perfect. My hesitation was due to a combination of perfectionism and fear. Perfectionism in wanting to publish a very good story accompanied by a platform that was complete, sustainable and professional. Fear in not being confident that the story was good enough to be appreciated by readers.

For the past several years, I assisted to workshops, read books, perused articles after articles, to learn what to do and how to do it. I quickly learned that the whole thing was quite complex. In fact, if you don’t set milestones, you can keep going and going, never getting there. There is always a little bit more you can do, another article you can read that will provide a tip you had not heard about before. There are so many options and so many decisions to make, including a website, a newsletter, one or more feeds, tweets on Twitter, posts on Facebook, a presence on Amazon, on Goodreads or on a series of other sites, where to publish, in what format, what to include in your book, a preface, some quotes, a dedication, a section about the author, credits, acknowledgments, pictures or drawings, a professional cover, or your own, the frequency of your updates on each sites, the marketing campaign, where to market, how, for how long, and get reviews, and offer free copies, print or not, and so on and so forth. It is an extensive and chaotic list that can quickly become overwhelming. It certainly give a good idea of how I felt. A bit overwhelmed. A bit confused. A bit lost. But I trudged on.

Each author must decide where they are trying to go, set a few milestones, draw out a plan, and try to stay on track. My objective was to create something sustainable, something long term. I plan on writing for a long time. That being the case, I aimed at developing a solid platform and at having more than one story ready at the time of my first launch.

It didn’t go as smoothly as I had imagined. I almost got lost on a few occasions. The balance between doing enough and being ready, mentally, was not easy to reach. Here and there, I had to take a break, to calm down, to regain focus, to determine what was the best next step.

A few months ago, I started to realize I was stalling. My platform was up. I had a website and a presence on Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook, with a newsletter and a blog. I had more than 10 short stories, a novella and a novel well under way. I was also going through some personal challenges, mostly related to my full-time job, but this was not why I was stalling. Simply put, there didn't seem to be any reason why I should not move ahead. I made the conscious decision of completing what needed to be done to self-publish The Burden of the Protector. It included submitting paperwork to the IRS (I didn't want to be taxed twice), drawing a map for the story and formatting the text for release.

Now that the launch is behind, I feel that I am starting a new phase in my writing. I can move on to the next story, the next chapter. I feel more relaxed, while still being excited about what's ahead. There is optimism. Next time will be easier, as most of the work is done. So, it is time to get back to writing.

Keywords: Life, Platform, Tips, Writing