You dream of telling your story because you feel it is what will make the world go around a bit smoother, and you are convinced you are the next Pulitzer Prize winner. You see yourself walking up in front of thousands of people to get your trophy and prize money. You also know this will make you famous and you will never be forgotten.
You decide to take the risk and have finally done it. You’ve finished that novel you have always wanted to write and hope the world thinks you’re a literary genius for doing so. What do you do next, self-publish, or scrape together a few thousand dollars to hire a traditional publishing company? You know you can’t come up with the money, so you self-publish. You join one of those print on demand companies and in a few keystrokes you have proofed and published the book. Then you’re so excited you order fifty copies and impatiently wait for them to arrive in the mail. The copies are for friends and family who never even knew you were writing a book. Do you go door to door with the remaining copies like an encyclopedia salesman of the past? No, that’s way too much work for an accomplished author like you.
You’ve been told success today is as easy as joining Facebook and Twitter. You open up accounts for both, and start spreading the word via social media and hope someone notices the cover and description of your novel. Then it goes viral! All this would make you very happy and satisfied for taking the two or three years to hammer-out that story. You have read all your horoscopes promising fame and fortune. Now all you really need is a bit of luck and ten or twenty thousand people to buy your book.
Then reality strikes and you realize nobody is even the slightest bit interested in your work. Nobody cares how long it took you, or how many sleepless nights you had because you couldn’t come up with the right word, or the right phrase to make the prose flow. Sure, a few friends and relatives bought a copy so they could have it signed, which will help you to feel important.
Of course, you are hoping they read it to the bitter end and write a glowing review of your masterpiece. You spend every free minute checking your book sites to see if anyone has left a review. You look day after day, week after week, and there is nothing. You know you sold or gave away nearly a hundred hard copies and E-books, yet there are few reviews. Your dream of becoming that famous author begins to fade, and you feel as though the whole world is against you. It must be, otherwise you would be getting glowing reviews from so many caring friends and family.
This is how I felt a few months after self-publishing a novel titled, “The Tarnished Shooter.” It is a story about surviving in an abusive home and overcoming bullying at school. I thought everyone would be interested in what I had to say about those issues. I even sent copies to media celebrities and never received a confirmation they got the book. Self-publishing a book is risky business because you don’t have the support from a “traditional publishing” company to properly edit and promote the story. They will read, re-read, edit and promote in a way to guarantee at least a minimum of success. With self-publishing you’re on your own, and unless you want to spend the hundreds or thousands of dollars to make it right by hiring an experienced freelance editor, you will never know if it is a good story, or a pile of useless drivel nobody cares about.
Be creative and be free to write whatever your heart desires, but also be wary that the road to success as a self-published writer may mean slaying the dragon at every turn. There are no guarantees and you will have to slay those dragons on your own.