So you have this book, you’re kind of excited about it, and you’ve been toying around with the idea of publishing it… but you haven’t. Chances are, you have a list of “reasons”. Some of those might be legitimate, but some of those might be excuses, or what I like to call “mental road blocks”. Today, I’d like to discuss some popular ones writers face, and how you can pole vault over them to achieve your goals, and maybe live your dream!
So, you’re toying around with the idea of publishing your book; you’ve worked hard on it, and you want to see it in print, maybe even sign a few copies! But you’re still not exactly moving forward…
You may have reasons for that… Only having half a manuscript is a good reason to wait. But if you’ve spent more years editing your book than you spent writing it, you may just be creating excuses to bide your time.
I want to help you figure out what is really holding you back, call it what it is, and help you move forward in whatever direction will take you toward publication!
Before we start, there are legitimate reasons to wait. If you aren’t finished writing, wait. If you just finished writing, wait. Make sure your manuscript has been read over by a few different people, and edited. Make sure you’ve caught the grammar and spelling mistakes. Make sure your ideas come across clearly and that readers aren’t left re-reading paragraphs wondering what you “meant by that”.
From this point on, I am going to assume that you have a polished and complete manuscript.
Now, lets start tackling some of those popular road blocks.
Road Block 1: It’s not Ready…
It is easy for us to be our worst critics. Many, if not most, of us fall into a pit of despair and self deprecating criticism at some point. We keep editing and editing until we’ve changed our revisions back to the original text… It’s like we think we can keep shuffling a deck of cards until they get sorted into numerical order, only then will it be ready to play.
The truth is, perfection is subjective. Stop shooting for perfect! Just deliver your best.
- There will always be an error you missed. I’ve found typos in just about every book I’ve ever read… but they didn’t keep me from loving the books!
- There will always be sections you feel like you could have written better. However, if the reader is caught up in the story, that wont be what they are thinking about. (Now if it is a truly confusing passage where the reader can’t understand what you’re trying to do… yes! Please, go back and revise it!) Most readers pick up books looking for a good story to escape into, not to analyze the structure of every sentence. It only matters if it trips them up from understanding what is happening in the story. So unless your writing looks like an obstacle course, let it go!
- There will always be things you could add. As long as you keep it, there will be things you could change. Even after you publish it, there will be things you wish you had done differently. You can’t let that keep you from publishing, or you will never publish! Seriously, this one is a never ending story.
As authors, our books are basically our babies. The point is, it isn’t the book that isn’t ready, its you. Just like parenting, sooner or later, we just have to send our babies out into the world, and see how they do.
Road Block 2: Fear of Failure or Criticism.
Writing is personal. The stories we tell are, in a way, reflections of ourselves. Unless you’re completely emotionless, or a narcissist, it is normal to be nervous, and a little scared of people not liking your work. But make sure you take a step back and view this fear rationally. I know, I know, I’m asking you to be rational about emotions… paradox right? Wrong(ish).
There are a couple different reasons why this one might strike us:
- Fear of failing financially. This one is one you’ll just have to be brave and have a little faith for. If your book puts you into debt, you’ll just have to work hard, pay it off, and move on. Its not the end of the world. If your book just doesn’t make enough for you to make a living as an author, like you’ve always dreamed, guess what! You’ll just keep your day job a little longer while you write more books. Maybe one of your other projects will be the bread winner. Just keep truck’n! Again, it’s not the end of the world. At the end of the day, your book will never make you any money if you don’t publish it!
- Fear of criticism. Let me go ahead and get this out of the way, not everyone is going to like your book. Just as perfection is subjective, so is taste. Just as surely as there will be someone out there who doesn’t like your book, there will be someone out there who loves it! Don’t deprive that latter person, because the former might exist. If you’re afraid of being criticized publicly just remember, Twilight sucks, and it has made $6,145,100,000, because a lot of people loved it! There were also people burning Harry Potter books, and yet that franchise pulled in $24,851,000,000, because A LOT of people love it! So don’t expect everyone to love it, in fact anticipate some naysayers, prepare yourself, but temper that down with the realization that there will be people who read and love your story.
In short, I’m not telling you to be a bright eyed optimist. I don’t want you to feel like you’re getting smacked in the face if someone tweets that they didn’t enjoy your book, or if you’re nausiated by your credit card bill.
But I also don’t want you to be a pessimist who thinks their amazon ratings are all going to read “I should have been paid to read this monstrosity, someone give me a refund!”, or that you’ll have to file for bankruptcy.
Just realize that all books have people who like them, and people who don’t. It is going to cost some money to print and advertise your book. Just have a plan, and stick to it. You’re not only going to make it through alive, you’ll also, finally, be a published author!
Side note: Not all criticism is bad. Take the truthful critiques and use them to hone your craft and become a more experienced writer. Your future projects will thank you for it, as will your readers!
Road Block 3: I Can’t Afford to Publish.
Publishing can be financially intimidating, especially if your are planning on self-publishing, or some sort of hybrid model. But alas, that is not a reason to not publish, ever.
This can be one of the more intimidating road blocks, if you’re like me and love financial security, but it is also one of the easiest to pole vault with a little planning and a little help. *Sings “I get by with a little help from my friends”*
I grew up in girl scouts and band, so I’ve done my fair share of fundraising. I learned at a young age, I hate asking for money. I have always had the mentality that if I can’t afford it on my own, I don’t deserve to have it, yet. I’ve always believed in working for what I want, and that principal definitely applies to my publishing endeavors as well.
You don’t have to pay for your book completely on your own, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work for it!
If you don’t have the savings to afford your chosen publishing route, here are some ideas:
- Sell some stuff. This one seems obvious I know, but its funny how many people don’t think of having a yard sale. Advertise to your family, friends, and community that the proceeds are going directly to making your dreams come true! Some of your stuff might be worth some good solid cash too! When was the last time you played that saxophone from middle school, or rode that bike? Instruments can be sold to music shops for a lot more than you’d get at a yard sale, so make sure you sell your old stuff at the right time and place, but make sure you sell it!
- Find additional forms of income. You’re a writer, with a promising book, so I know you can get creative here! Here are some of the things I did:
- I picked up some house/pet sitting gigs. I literally get paid to stay at someone else’s house and play with their dog… I make money sitting and working on my book in someone else’s kitchen. I mean come on! Does it get any better than that? This one is probably my favorite. Word of mouth gets around, and I have been able to do this pretty consistently for several different people.
- I have booked side gigs making paper flowers for weddings.
- I have taught swing dance lessons at day camps for kids.
- I have sold paintings.
- I have saved a lot of money just setting aside my tips when I worked in coffee shops and ice cream stores. If you work in the service industry, try and pay most of your bills with your check, and set your tips aside. Or vice versa, live off your tips, and set your checks aside, whichever works for you.
- Any skill you have that could make you some extra cash on the side that you can dedicate specifically to your book, do it!
- Crowdfund. There are so many different sites and ways to do this, I will just list a few, but know that there are more. They all work a little differently, but the gist is this, you have people who love you and want to support you, let them. There are also complete strangers who will like the sound of your book and want to read it, and they will be willing to pre-order a copy for the chance to. So look into these!
- Kick Starter: Kick Starter is a crowdfunding website where you can pitch your project and share your campaign through social media to raise money for your project. If you don’t reach your goal, all your supporters will get a refund.
- Go Fund Me: Like Kick Starter, you can raise money through a campaign you can share all over social media. But unlike kick starter, you get paid as people donate, so you don’t have to worry about reaching your full goal, or not getting paid. This is the one I used.
- Publishizer: Publishizer is a multi-functional crowdfunding tool. You pitch your idea for your book, and prospective readers can pre-order copies. Your pre-orders make you money to go out and publish your book, but it also gets you in the direct line of vision of publishers. So, if the idea of querying to try to find an agent to find you a publisher seems daunting, skip it. Let your publishizer proposal be your one query to all. I was planning on self publishing from the beginning, but I had 6 publishers interested in my book in the one month that I was collecting pre-orders and making money for my book! So publishizer could be your best friend for getting the word out, making money, and getting publishers interested in your project!
Note that crowdfunding sites make their money by keeping a percentage of what you raise, but most of the time the percentage is pretty small.
How to Pole Vault
Whatever road blocks you’re facing, sit down and call them what they are. (Hint: They aren’t reasons not to publish!) Break them down and determine what it really is that’s standing in your way.
Once you figure out what it is in front of you, look at it realistically. Acknowledge that this wont be a cake walk, but it isn’t unrealistic or infeasible. Come up with a plan, and start running!
Stick to your plan. Don’t lose momentum or excitement. Run hard toward your goal. That momentum is going to be what gets you through your book launch and into your career. That excitement is going to be what gathers interest, and followers/readers.
Launch your book into the world. Release it into the hands of readers. Have faith. See what happens! 😀