I can’t count on my fingers and toes the number of people I know who have written a novel and are:
- working on it
- editing it
- revising it
- re-doing it
- thinking about it
- sitting on it, or
- sending it to agents
It’s awesome. Everybody’s got a novel. And with modern internet publishing through Amazon and similar services, they could be published and selling books in a matter of hours.
Book publishing used to be impossible.
In the past, to publish a book, you first had to pitch an agent on your book and get accepted by the agent. Then the agent would help find a book publisher. If one was located who liked your idea, it would then go through a number of writes and rewrites until finally it was published.
Only 90% of all books that are published sell over 50 copies – so odds were that after the years of effort to get accepted by the industry, you weren’t going to make a boatload of cash right away, if ever.
Even if your book did sell well, there was overhead – agent’s percentage, publisher’s percentage, printing costs, cover design costs.
Book publishing is no longer impossible.
1. Go to Amazon’s self-publishing platform and create an account.
2. Create a book description and categorize it so it can be found.
3. Upload your book as an HTML file (using “save as” in your word processing program)
4. Use the Kindle interface to see how your book looks on a Kindle. Clean up what you find so it looks good. (Great instructions on this process can be found in the Smashwords style guide…. but just get it published. You can clean it up later.)
5. Set a price for your book. Like .99 or 2.99. At the 2.99 price point, you get a 70% commission, or a little over 2 bucks. This is more per book than you’d get if it were published through a traditional publisher, even at full price.
6. Hit “Save and publish.”
There – you did it! Not so bad, right?
Wait – you haven’t done it yet? You have reasons not to, you say?
Reasons not to publish
- If I self-publish, an agent is less likely to accept me.
- I don’t want anyone to read it yet – it’s not good enough.
- My book is worth more than .99.
- If I don’t put out my best work first, it will ruin my reputation.
- I want it to be professionally edited – and I can’t afford it.
- It needs to have a professional cover – and I can’t afford it.
- Pant, pant, pant.
Your reasons are wrong.
Sorry – I call bullshit. There’s no reason not to publish your book just as it is.
Take a pad of paper and write down every reason not to publish right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
My guess is that the list breaks down into 3 categories:
1. Self-publishing “ruins your chances” at traditional publishing. You hear this only from people who have a vested interest in saving the traditional publishing industry. Any “expert” that encourages you not to self-publish is losing money when you do it yourself. If they are an agent, critic, book publisher, marketer or editor, their argument lacks ethos.
2. If you publish now, it won’t be your best work. Perfection is impossible. That being said, when you publish on electronic platforms, you can make edits instantly. When you publish a book on Amazon, if you find a typo later on, you can edit your document and upload it in a few minutes. Your edits go live in an hour or two – and every copy of your book that has been sold also gets updated at the same time. So cross off all those reasons that more apply to physical publishing.
What’s left? Oh yeah…
Fear of failure
Take a red pen and slash through the rest of your list. Write in big letters over the top, “Fear of failure.”
There are a million billion reasons not to publish, and they all add up to being a chicken.
It is scary to publish. People could give you bad reviews or worse, maybe nobody will buy your book. But so what? No one is buying your book right now anyway.
I know we’re taught to make fun of spectacular failures. Like the guys that first tried to fly. It’s so easy today to see how silly these designs look – but that’s only because we know what a working airplane design looks like. But without all the failed attempts, we wouldn’t have the design that works.
These guys were geniuses and visionaries. They had the impossible goal to fly and built something to achieve it. Then they risked their lives to try it out.
That’s so much more than what most of us can hope to do in a lifetime. So many of us have goals or dreams, but relegate them to a “bucket list” or decide that we can’t do it. We content ourselves with watching others’ failure or success on the hot reality show of the week.
We spectate as the awful singer bombs in front of professional judges and a huge television audience and cringe.
“Thank God that’s not us!”
WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.
We should strive to be that failure in front of a million people.
The chance of public humiliation is outweighed by taking the only possible step at that moment towards success. And hey – our art is out there, in front of millions of people.
As Jake the Dog says, “Sucking at something is the first step to getting kind of good at it.”
There are millions of books available on Amazon, and there are millions of people searching for them. This has created entirely new book genres that wouldn’t survive in a traditional publishing environment – such as “monster smut” and a host of others. Your book has a place, too. There are authors right now who catch a hot news item, stay up all night writing 20K words on the subject and publish it as an ebook in the morning. People looking for the subject find their book and the author makes money.
Monster smut not your gig? You write high elvish fantasy set in the civil war era? That’s ok. There is an audience looking for what you offer right now. They can’t find it if it’s not published.
Failure causes evolution
Failure is good. We need to fail if we want to evolve.
If nothing was ever allowed to fail, there would be no growth. There is not enough room to support every species that ever existed on the planet.
Failure of companies and ideas lead to new, better ideas based on experience.
If your book or idea fails, you will have the information you need to write a better book or create a better idea.
Life without failure is a “death in life.” We spend so much time avoiding the pain inherent in failure that we stop living altogether.
“Your life is your life. Don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission,” says Bukowski. I agree.
Resources to Help you Fail.
If I haven’t thoroughly convinced you to hit “publish” yet, there’s still hope.
You can also email me at email@example.com at any time. I can offer advice and help if you need it – just for fun.
And if you’ve got a business that you’d like to take to the next level or an idea you’d like to explore, check out the brand-new Worry Free Consulting website. We have a bunch of free marketing tools there, too.
But do all that later. First, hit “publish.” Let me know when your book is live – I’d love to buy it.