Hi there my wonderful There and Draft Again folks!
I’ve been quite busy with a blog tour, beginning August 5 and ending yesterday, August 16. I have to say, it’s been a wild two weeks. For those of you who aren’t sure what the whole blog tour buzz is all about, it’s pretty much a stampede of guest blog stops (all penned by yours truly) for the sole purpose of getting the word out about my book. And there’s nothing I, as a writer of fiction, would like to avoid more.
The trouble is, that’s not the kind of writing I’m good at. If I wanted to talk about real life, I’d write non-fiction. I’d be a journalist. I’d compose how-to manuals and advertising copy. This is SO NOT my thing. For the Coldness of Marek Blog Tour, I had to set aside four weeks of writing time. Which is just ridiculous. I mean, I can write a whole novel draft in four weeks. Why all this time for a blog tour? Well, probably because I spent hours tapping at my keyboard, only to backspace every word. I pretty much looked like this:
And at the end of the day I had nothing to show for it. I just checked my stats, and apparently I wrote 15k in blog tour material. That’s nothing. That’s piddly. That is me being terribly inefficient. Not to mention all of my friends’ manuscripts that were piling up, waiting to be critiqued/read/loved. To round it all out, our fearless There and Draft Again leader, EM Castellan, asked me to write a post about self-publishing. I was all, yeah, okay! But inside I was thinking, um, this is the first time I’ve ever done this. I have nothing to say about self-publishing.
Well, after 15k in blog tour posts, I’ve discovered that actually, I do. I have a lot to say. So listen up, anyone interested in self-publishing — or interested in raising an eyebrow or two about self-publishing — here’s my mighty rundown. Ready? Go.
First, don’t judge. If you set out to self-publish, do it for the right reasons. Don’t do it because you’re bitter about not getting a traditional deal. Don’t do it to show the world you’re better than them. Don’t do it because you think you work harder than agented writers and you think you should earn more of your profits. That’s all just stupid-face talking. Do it because you have sound, positive reasons for believing this is the right direction for your book — and one of those reasons should be because you love stories and love sharing them.
My reasons were: I honestly couldn’t sit down and tell you my entire plan for this three (four?) book series. I don’t have an entire plan. I have a tentative plan. An agent needs to be able to know exactly what you’re planning to put into your career so that s/he can help you get what you need out of it. I didn’t want that type of give/take. I wanted to go it alone, at an even pace with an evolving plan. I wanted to get to know each of my readers, like a street musician does.
Second, go about it the right way. Make sure you ask for help from the right people. Everything is pretty much up to you, but the one important ingredient that everyone MUST HAVE is an editor who knows what they’re doing. Get one. Get one you can trust to call you out on your shiz. Get them yesterday.
My “right way” was comprised of:
My wonderful critique partner who doubled as my line editor, who knew my story inside and outside and who fielded my freak-out texts as well.
An incredible professional editor who (did NOT field my freak-out texts because that is NOT her job. Do not abuse your editor) cut all the last stupid and lame and dumb lines from my story…oh, and also fixed the grammar, too.
An artist friend who was willing to do cover art for me.
A street team comprised of a handful of volunteer heroes who loved me and/or my writing and were willing to yell about it before they even had ARCs, because they’re loyal and golden and the salt of the earth.
A hundred dollars worth of cute swag to give away.
Advanced reading copies of my book to send to reviewers.
Third, be yourself. Don’t sweat over trying to sound like all the other authors you’ve heard interviewed. Don’t put other authors down to try to make yourself look better. Be humble and straightforward, be professional and talk about the things you’re knowledgeable about. Just let it flow.
Being myself required: Checking my assumptions at the door. I couldn’t assume anything about what I would accomplish with my book release, how people would view my writing, and where I would be after a few weeks of being out there in the market. I had to be wide-eyed and fresh, and open up as if I was meeting new people at preschool. I had to stare loads of my insecurities in the face and tell them to stand down. It was scary and crazy, but it all worked out pretty well, and once I settled into it, there was actually some pretty fun stuff that happened.
Fourth, be grateful. Be grateful to everyone who bought it. Be grateful to everyone who got your novel ready for market, who made it look pretty and polished your prose. Be grateful to everyone who reviewed it. Be grateful to everyone on your street team, cover reveal, and blog tour. Be grateful to everyone who talked about it to their friends and on social media. Be grateful for the traditional platform that produced books for centuries to kindle the love of literature that now allows you to sell your book to readers everywhere. Be grateful for an economy that is able to support self-published authors.
I’m grateful to: Rebecca Weston, Darci Cole, Amanda Aszman, M. Andrew Patterson, Michelle Roberts, H.E. Griffin, Steve Knapp, E.M. Castellan, Joshua David Bellin, Lauren Garafalo, Lucy Hershbine, Serena Lawless, Kathi L. Schwengel, Mara Valderran, Beau Barnett, Nazarea Andrews, Amanda Olivieri, Bill Murphy, Chris Prickitt, Steve Chiasson, Uwe Kruger, Jens Kruger, Andrea Hannah, Leigh Ann Kopans, Dahlia Adler, my friends, family, husband and children.
And I’m grateful for you, lovely reader. Thank you for indulging me and reading a little post about my journey. I appreciate the time it takes for you to read and I hope you enjoyed.
— Rachel O’Laughlin