Self-Publishing is like…

Having a cat

Cats are unpredictable. If you’ve owned them for a while, you know their personalities, and you can usually know what they’re going to do. But it takes time and patience — and sometimes he’s still going to throw up on your bed after you brag to your friends that he always gets off the bed to do it.

Publishing, at first, is unpredictable. You can read all the books and articles you want, talk to all the authors you want to, but unless you do it yourself, you won’t really know what it’s like. It will take time, patience, and sometimes it will still surprise you.

But at the same time, publishing a book is fun. Yes, your book can sometimes sleep for 17 hours a day, but when it wakes up, it will certainly be entertaining. It may even cuddle with you while you’re sleeping or when you’re trying to write.

Planting a garden

You’re planting seeds. Sometimes you have to wait months to see the fruits of your labor. You have to be sure you planted it during the right time of year and in the right spot. You need to water your plant, make sure it gets plenty of sunlight, and in the meantime, keep writing. Some plants to flourish and produce a huge harvest. Others won’t work out, and you won’t know the difference in the beginning.

When that plant does grow, you can give fruit to your friends, make salsa and salads, and be the envy of your neighbors. In other words, if your book does take off, you will love it and you won’t regret planting it!

Buying a lottery ticket

You could have everything right, but sometimes, it’s just luck. The right blogger finds your book and tells the right people about it. The algorithms on Amazon work in your favor. It is always worth a shot, but know that not everyone hits the jackpot.

Self-Publishing is not…

A solitary journey

Yes, you are in charge. Yes, you’re the writer of your own destiny, or whatever. But you can work with a team. You don’t have to do it alone! Have an editor support you in revising the book; hire a cover designer to put your best foot forward. Join a group who can help you with the various distribution options. Get your writer friends to help out with marketing. Find some bloggers who are looking for books to read. It doesn’t take a village to write a book, but it takes one to publish it well.

A seal of approval

You know why some readers look down on self-publishing? Because no one vetted your book. No one said this book is good! And put in money and time to see its success. Some readers want that assurance because they trust the publishers. Some don’t care, not if the cover and blurb is attractive and the first page intrigues them. It’s your job to try to get them not to care — the goal is for them to see your name and know it’s going to be a good read and a good return for their hard-earned (hopefully) money.

In the end? Self-publishing is a journey. It’s challenging, it’s fun, and if you want to do it, go for it. YOLO. I’m saying that in a non-ironic way. You only live once, and there are readers out there who will enjoy your book. Get that book in their hands! Or on their e-reader. Just get it in front of their eyes.