Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking Back: Bard Constantine's Year In Publishing -2012

If I were the type to make resolutions, I'd resolve to make better use of this blog.

But since I know that's probably not going to happen, I'll share what I've learned this past year about my experience with indie publishing.

What I published:

That would be one short story, two novellas and a full length novel. Not too bad, all things considering. Makes me wonder what I can do if I actually applied some sort of writing schedule that included writing at least four days out of every week. I'll try to find out the answer this year...

 What I learned:

  1. Writing is easy. Editing is hard.

    I can't stress enough how tough editing is. That's why every article on writing strongly suggests that you never edit your own work. It's how the brain is hotwired. You read your manuscript the way it should be read, not actually how it is. So it's only natural to miss mistake after mistake, even after countless efforts. It's a frustrating experience, especially when you catch errors after you publish your work.

    The fix? Pony up and pay for a professional editor. There are many like Moody Edits who charge reasonable fees and do fine work. Of course, even at good rates -like 2 cents per word, it can get costly for a pro edit, especially for the starving writer trying to get their work out. In that case, you might look at bribing or blackmailing a literary minded friend into at least proofreading your manuscript for easily noticeable errors. Other tricks include switching formats for each edit so that your eyes aren't looking at the same thing over and over. If you did your last edit on the computer, save it to your tablet and go over it again. You'd be surprised how those errors stand out by switching formats.
  2. Commitment Is Key

    One of the problems that plagued me in my earlier writing attempts was that point in writing when I got bored. The solution? Start writing another story. The result? A lot of unfinished manuscripts.

    I had to learn to fight past those moments and stick to the story at hand. It takes discipline, but it's certainly not impossible. Like anything else, it's a developed habit. Once you commit to a story, you have to stick it out until it's finished. Anything else is just wasting your time. And the sooner you finish a novel, the sooner you can get to editing. That's when the real fun starts. See the above.

  3. You Think Editing Is Bad? Try Marketing.

    Just when you thought it was safe to publish your novel... nothing happens. After the small segment (and I do mean small) of family and friends are forced to buy your novel, it falls on you to market it to readers beyond your circle. Some writers strongly believe that the way to do this is to spam everyone they know with endless advertisements of their work. Then they promptly go to any and every possible online discussion board involving their genre and do the exact same thing.

    Don't be surprised if that doesn't get you many readers.

    No one likes to be bombarded by desperate, attention seeking, living advertisers. There are other ways to market your material that will be less annoying and might actually endear readers to you and your work. A lot of this is time consuming, and can be quite frustrating as you learn to negotiate the chaotic world of marketing and promotion. And for the penniless writer trying to establish their work, the task is even more daunting and harder to accomplish.

    But take heart. Pay attention to helpful articles that are provided online from sites like Bestseller Labs and online newsletters like The Constantine. Many bestselling authors like David Farland and Warren Adler give excellent insight and advice at their online pages and websites. Learn from those who have done it well. Stay up on technological tools and resources available to indie authors. I have much to learn about the best ways to market and promote, but I'm an eager learner. If one masters marketing, then the battle is 50% done. (The other 50 is actually writing a great novel, but you know that already, right?)
  4. Patience, young Padawan. Born in a day, is not a Jedi.

    Say the above in your best Yoda voice. One thing I've learned is that if you've jumped into indie writing for bestseller status and easy cash, then you're going to quickly learn what agonizing heartbreak is. It's really quite simple. According to most stats, the average indie writer sells around 150 copies per title. Yeah, you read that right. What separates the average from the few that sell in the thousands and dare I say it: millions of copies? (Better concentrate on the thousands. Or better yet, more than 150)

    Quite simple: write a book that doesn't suck and learn the best ways to market correctly. That's easier said than done, because the average indie published novel is subpar at best. Too many writers take the easy route and glut the market with shoddy material and low quality work. To stand out, one has to try to be at least as good as anything traditionally published. I say at least, because the goal for the successful indie writer actually should try to be better. Then put in the hard work. You did the crime. Now do the time. The odds are still against you, but I firmly believe that if an author builds a body of high quality, captivating work then eventually a readership will develop.

    I gave myself three years to build my brand and gain a solid enough readership to make my writing at least somewhat profitable. It may take longer than that, but the point is that I'm already geared for the long haul, not some dream of instant success. Anyone can be a writer. It takes a lot more to be an author, which is what I'm trying to be.

    There's so much more to the writing experience than I can get into in this one article. Who knows? Maybe I'll share some more. Especially since I have this blog that I never use. Maybe this year I'll actually use it.

    But no promises.

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