S is for Self-Publishing #AtoZChallenge

Post by Guest Blogger
Rachel Lynn Brody

Writing this blog has been killing me, because I don’t feel like I have the authority to tell an audience “This is self-publishing.” What I can do, having just self-published Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change, is tell you the things I wish somebody had told me at the beginning:

1. You’re setting your own schedule. Set a schedule that’s flexible, and works for you.

From day one, I knew that mid-March, around the vernal equinox, was a time when I wanted to be bringing this book to the anthology. There were times when working with so many different personalities was daunting, and when this happened, I reminded myself: I was working on my own schedule. The important thing was to put out a product, not adhere to an artificial deadline. (Don’t mistake me – the deadline is important, and letting people know when to expect your work is something every author should do.) When live overwhelms you, change your plans. When it became clear that meeting the full release slate was simply not something I could do on my own by the announced release date, we scaled back. Even having an extra five days to breathe as I worked to get versions on Smashwords, PubIt, CreateSpace and other more independent sites made all the difference in the world, letting me focus on one individual product after the other.

2. Respect the roles you’re playing on your project.

Editors make certain kinds of decisions. Writers make different kinds of decisions. And sometimes, each approaches a situation and comes away with a different idea of what should be done. Respect the role you’re playing in respect to your project, and try to only play one role at a time. When the editor makes a decision the writer doesn’t like, remember – the editor’s job isn’t to make the writer happy. The editor's job is in service of the final book.

3. Take the time to be proud of your accomplishments.

I’m exceedingly proud of HOT MESS. The business we’ve done since “Upload Day” has been steady and feedback has been largely positive. Through a twist of fate, as many as four of our authors may be in New York City this May for a reading, signing and discussion. It’s difficult, as all this happens, to remember that it really just comes down to a book about what happens to human beings when the climate changes. Then I look at my bedside table, where the proof copy we released last week now holds place of pride, and I smile. I made a book. And it’s good. And I’m proud of it.

What else?

Most of the rest of what you need to know about self-publishing can be found around the internet: Guido Henkel writes a terrific guide to formatting your e-books, Stunk and White have a guide you can buy that will teach you how to put words together. Stephen King’s On Writing is still one of the best books about the practice of writing I can recommend. Amazon Kindle Direct and Author Central, PubIt, and Smashwords are the places to start for e-publishing, while CreateSpace and Lulu are options for print-on-demand publishing. Build your social media platforms, connect with people who care, and write about things that are important to you.

I guess that’s all I’ve got to give you on self-publishing.

Rachel Lynn Brody is an award-winning playwright, as well as an author, blogger and theater critic. Plays include Post, Playing it Cool, Mousewings and, in late 2012, Millennial Ex, a ten-minute play about marriage equality premiering at Glasgay 2012. Later this year, look out for original web series Unfamiliar Lives, co-written with and directed by Eric Sipple. Connect with Rachel on Twitter at @girl_onthego, or check out (and subscribe to) her blog at rlbrody.com. Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change can be purchased at Smashwords, Amazon, CreateSpace and Barnes & Noble.

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