5 Things Publishing Taught Me
1. Cover Your Costs!
When I self-published my first book, I was sure there was an audience for a Greek/English bilingual collection of short stories. There are huge Greek-American communities all across the country and thousands of students young and old trooping off to church for Greek School every week. Surely, I thought, some of them would be interested in quality stories to supplement their language learning! I was sort of right. I sold more books than might be expected for such a niche genre debut from an unknown author, but it wasn’t nearly enough to cover the costs I’d incurred by using a professional translator. I don’t regret it—my Greek definitely isn’t up to that level, and it was worth it for my family in Greece to be able to read my work—but I definitely learned from the experience. When the time came to publish my first novel, I ran a pre-order campaign through Kickstarter to make sure that my audience was at least big enough to cover my publishing costs. To my delight, my Kickstarter was successfully funded, and I was able to publish without putting myself further in the red.
2. Know your weaknesses!
I’ve always prided myself on my ability to learn new things, but it pays to be realistic about what you can and can’t do (like, say, learn Photoshop in less than a month). I’m not saying not to try new things, but definitely don’t put all your eggs in a basket that might break. Do your homework and try out new skills far in advance of when you’ll actually need them so that you can decide what’s worth a little educational investment and what’s not. Once those decisions are made, you can save up for the tasks that will require a professional.
3. Know your strengths!
Conversely, it also pays—or maybe saves—to know what you can do yourself. For instance, I could have done my own line editing for my first book and saved myself a pretty penny. I know some of you are probably gasping or rolling your eyes at my arrogance, but it’s true. I know this not only because I’ve been teaching grammar for close to ten years but because the editor I hired ended up bringing me on to her own staff as an editor just a few months after working on my collection. For my novel, I relied on my own skills and that of my eagle-eyed grammar nerd of a mother, and I have zero regrets (and a lot more money in the bank). I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t hire an editor. I’m saying you shouldn’t hire an editor just because all those articles and tweets and posts say you aren’t a credible author if you don’t. Similarly, if you’re a trained artist, why shouldn’t you do your own cover art? If you know you’re a damned good designer, why shouldn’t you design your own cover? Of course, in an ideal world an experienced professional is almost always going to be preferable to even a highly skilled amateur, but we don’t live in an ideal world where everyone has the money to hire professionals for everything. Most of us will have to make choices about where we spend our money, and by being realistic about both our weaknesses and our strengths, we can make those choices wisely.
4. Remember that no one can please everyone, but be prepared to grow!
It makes me proud (and relieved) that not a single reviewer has yet tried to diss my writing or editing technique. Many, in fact, make a point of praising the writing itself…which is how I make it through the reviews that critique everything else. Especially hurtful the ones that crap all over my protagonist. Of course I rail internally against those reviews and vent to my CP’s about how a character can’t show any growth if they’re already perfect and how (shocker) teenagers don’t always react like mature adults and how my precious protagonist is UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE, OKAY?! But then I calm down and remember that, if I’ve done my job, characters are like real people. Just like not everyone is going to like me as a person, not everyone is going to like my characters, and that’s okay. Instead, I pay attention to the reviews that have real critiques to offer. After looking for patterns in reviews across my different books, I have a better understanding of my weaknesses and know what I need to work on in my next book.
5. Come prepared to work, because this sh*t is hard!
Guest post written by Author Kassandra Flamouri
Check out her books by clicking HERE!