I know I’ve banged on about this in the past, but entering the world of the written word is not for the faint hearted. No matter which path you choose, be it traditional or self-publishing, the hills you climb and the inevitable obstacles you negotiate your way around are the same for either choice.
Looking at it from the viewpoint of someone who self-publishes, there are no gatekeepers, agents and copy editors’ etcetera to lean on, nor any to take what you have written off your hands and hopefully turn it into a winner. How the product of all those long months you spent conceiving that book, and whether or not you use a professional editor as well as utilizing the talents of someone versed in the art of setting the manuscript up for publishing, or do it all yourself, in the end is entirely up to you. As for which self-publishing platform to use – talk to other writers. Each platform has their good and bad points. Like most things in life, which one you choose is down to personal choice.
Once you have published a book you will inevitably come to the attention of a group of people who one writer friend of mine describes as Grammar Nazis. Some are private individuals; others are involved within the literary world. These are the kind of people who will argue black and blue over how, why and when something as simple as the comma or the semi-colon should be used. You will also be subjected to all kinds of criticism by people from different walks of life, some constructive, some not so. Are you beginning to see why I said at the top of this piece that writing is not for the faint hearted yet?
You will also enter the world of book advertising, mostly via sites like Facebook, Twitter, AuthorsDen and Goodreads to name a few. Try not to spam. Get yourself a blog. That is the best place for you to advertise your work. Ensure your blog is linked to as many other sites as is possible. Mainly use Facebook to talk with your potential readers.
One thing you will find totally inexplicable is how your book will be received by the general public. From where I stand I firmly believe it’s all down to the topic. Above all else, don’t stop writing. With each book you turn out, hopefully the quality will improve. Believe me when I tell you that the world of writing is very definitely a tough place to dip your toe into.
Finally, a lot has been said this year about the quality or rather the lack of it, in the vast majority of self-published ebooks. While that may be true, there are some great stories appearing of late. Would I be put off if the author of the book I was interested in misplaced a comma, or maybe missed a quotation mark at the beginning or end of a dialogue by one of the book’s characters? No not really.
What does put me off is bad spelling. These days there is no excuse as most writing software packages have a spellchecker and some form of dictionary and thesaurus, together with a grammar checker. While on the subject of spelling, being an Englishman I use the original version –British English, not American English. From time to time I see complaints that I can’t spell. Without exception they are all from readers in the US. I apologise for using the original version of the language folks – it’s a force of habit.
Unfortunately many potential readers still fail to use the ‘See Inside’ option which most online sites have. Instead of simply clicking the buy button, take a moment and look at the first few pages. That way you can check out a sample of the text before you buy or simply move on. Just because a book has an attractive cover doesn’t necessarily equate to a good story inside.