Almost a year ago, I decided to stop trying to sway agents and publishers in favour of my kids’ chapter book and take a chance with self-publishing. I did it partly because I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and partly because I figured I had as good a chance as any small press author. I also truly believed in the quality of my book and the market for this kind of kids’ story (and still do, by the way).
Certainly, taking on the small business aspect of selling books has been the roller coaster ride that I’d expected. There are real highs (Val King ordering my books for Chapters Indigo), and painful lows (being told I’m not a real author by literary associations). I also empathize with publishers more than ever. It’s hard to make a living selling books! Just ask my accountant (also known as my husband).
Not unlike most first-time authors, I’ve had to hustle to book signings at bookstores, cajoled kids and parents to take a chance on a great new book, send press releases to newspapers and blogs, and uh, find additional means for income (jewellery anyone?)
I’ve learned more than I’d ever have imagined through this process and met some amazing authors who must, in my mind, be among the hardest working authors out there. For anyone considering taking the self-publishing leap, here’s some advice:
- Be prepared to work hard. Really, really hard.
- Believe in your book. If you don’t, you’ll have a hard time convincing others of its worth.
- Get over any fear of sales. You’re not just a writer, you’re a salesperson.
- Get over any fear of performing. You’re not just a salesperson, you’re a performer.
- Do it on a shoe-string budget without sacrificing quality. It is possible, with some creativity and willingness to learn.
I have enjoyed the experience… enough so that I’ve written the book’s sequel, Danny in a Newfangled World: Saving Ivan. I will publish it myself… unless an agent realizes its fabulousness and chooses to represent me. This time around, I think the odds are in my favour – whatever the outcome.