Author Meets Self-Publishing

Hello! As this is my first entry in this blog, which is bound to be more personal than my other site, I am bracing myself for awkwardness in the hopes of coming off as more human. Maybe.

This past week has been hectic for me, and I likely won’t know the full effects of everything that happened until much later. But maybe I should start out at the beginning: my writing history. Right now I guess I classify myself as a “small press” author more than anything else. In college I got a short story published for the first time in the Snow Monkey literary journal, and within one week of graduation landed a position as a writer/contributor for the website Comicbooked.com. I also did some experimentation with Createspace, but only sold a few copies of odd books to friends and family. I’ve only ever earned enough money for one royalty check.

Last November I branched genres for my NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ve been messing with the basic idea for Automaton since high school, but had always imagined it in a science fiction setting. You know, robotic skeletons, cloning. All very futuristic. I even tried writing it at one point… but it just came off as being creepy and weird (and not in a fun or good way). The idea for switching to Steampunk came after playing a Steampunk board game with my husband and getting more caught up in the theme than I would have guessed beforehand. I tinkered with the notion of switching genres for my upcoming NaNo novel, and it worked even better than my original plan.

In December, The Automaton of Miss Ada Stirling was accepted for publication through JukePop Serials weeks after I had finished the rough draft. Throughout its run I remained consistently only a few votes short of making the top 30 every month, and so I decided to keep working on it afterwards and self-publish it later.

If you look through the archives of my other website, http://finishthatnovel.org, you’ll see that I sound pretty confident when I’m talking about self-publishing. I thought I knew everything. I had sold some books, though I had never thought of it as a serious way of furthering my writing career. After all, anyone can get self-published. You don’t need an editor or a publishing team, and your writing can be as horrible as possible. Quality doesn’t matter.

Last week I attended IndieReCon online, mostly to get more material to write about for Finish That Novel. I was dumbfounded. Not only were there many things I didn’t know… but I had been doing a lot of things just plain wrong. My covers were wrong. My method of publication was wrong. My blurbs, my approach, my formatting. All wrong. My writing quality, though already publishable by editorial standards, was the only thing actually going in my favor.

Automaton is my first novel in the new direction I’m taking. Everything is new and different from what I’m used to, and I have no idea what to expect. IndieReCon was filled with people who had gotten rich publishing independently, while I’m lucky to sell more than a handful of books a year. I have nothing to lose.

Yes, I’m nervous. People might hate it. They might say it doesn’t have enough substance to it, it’s not polished enough for release when it comes out next month, or that there’s nothing worth reading about it. I might get a string of one star reviews and comments stating that Automaton is pathetic and amateurish. It’s not perfect, and I know it. But if I keep hiding my writing, I’ll never know where I stand in the crowd. So I’m taking a deep breath, reviewing my notes and studies, and praying that I won’t look like a total fool.

I’ve done my homework. Now it’s time to learn my grades.

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