I know, bit of a weird title today, but trust me, there really is a positive side to self publishing that I wasn’t consciously aware of until this week, and I thought I’d share it with you!
I had started thinking about it earlier in the week, and then my girlfriend wrote a really good blog article that helped me figure out what exactly my brain was trying to discern, and that is the need for a diverse skill set to be a self-published author.
What does that mean? Well, bear with me for a moment :)
The first and probably most important skill any writer needs is, well, the ability to write, and write well. This of course requires a broad vocabulary and a very strong understanding of the language that the writer is writing in.
A writer of any kind, self-published or not, also has to have strong editing and proofreading skills. For some writers this is more important than others, as I have known many writers who have a hard time forming a coherent story in the first draft, and it takes significant editing and proofreading to turn their first draft into something resembling a story. Trust me, I’m not knocking that, because some of those writers have turned out incredible stories!
…but there’s other skills that are valuable and even necessary. Especially in the self-publishing world, and especially if you don’t have a lot of cash to back what is essentially a small, self-owned business.
For instance, the layout of your novel for print. This requires both a creative flare and a knowledge/talent of which ever software you’re using, whether simply Microsoft Word or something like Scrivner. Sure, there are templates out there, but those can take you only so far, and the need to manipulate them to do what you want requires an intimate knowledge of the software.
Then there’s cover art and cover design. Graphic Design is a very, very different skill set from anything I have mentioned so far, and it’s not one that everyone has the time or patience to develop.
My first novel’s cover, I actually hired someone to create it, and he did an amazing job!! But it took me nearly a year in sales to recoup that expense, which was why I decided to do my own covers, once I realized that I actually retained much of my skills from when I used to do graphic design for a hobby. Even then, the covers I have designed are a little basic, but they work well.
And then there’s the part that I struggle with the most: the business side of it. Marketing and advertising, knowing how much effort and capitol to invest into a specific market.
For instance, is it worth spending the money to pay book stores who will take your books on consignment to put them on their shelves? As much as I’ve dreamt of having my book on a book shelf, based on my research and what fellow writers have told me, at this time it is not worth the investment. This is not true for all writers and all genres, but that’s part of job.
This Sounds Like A Lot Of Work! Where’s The Fun?
That IS the fun…because I don’t have to do the same thing, over and over and over again! In fact, with each new project comes new challenges and new opportunities.
I get to research new things when I include something in a story that I am not completely familiar with. I get to write new stories. I get to try new layouts. I get to create new cover art. And I get to explore the market without risking anyone else’s money or time, just my own. My girlfriend is making a dress right now to make a cover for her upcoming novel, Bloody Notes, which she will also model for the photo!
And the best part of it all? If you get bored or frustrated with one aspect, there’s always another project that you can switch to for a time and still be productive for your self-publishing business.
Getting frustrated with a scene you’re writing? Go edit another story. Bored with editing and proofreading? Try creating a new cover or a new advertisement graphic. Go to conventions to advertise and sell your books. Your imagination is your only limit!
Someone once told me that creative writing is not a good profession for someone with ADD. I respectfully disagree. Because there’s so much we can do, and as long as we have a system that allows us to move forward on all of our projects, then the ability to switch to varying types of projects plays right into our strengths.
Oh, and yes, you just read that right. I just called ADD a strength. I’ve gone my whole life trying to fight it, but frankly, my diverse and varying hobbies over the years have given me the very skill sets I need to make this work.
That’s all for today, everyone! Thanks for reading :)