With a new year comes new blog posts. So what better way to start off right than by talking about last year, right? Granted, I tend to resolve to update more almost every year and have yet to follow through past April or so. I’m beginning to believe we should make resolutions on a different holiday. Perhaps during harvest season or something later in the year.
I wish I could say that 2015 was a great year, or even a good one, but it was by all accounts a terrible year in most respects. The one major positive, however, has been in writing. It was the year I released The Sky Thief after years of work, learned about the querying processes, had my first short approved for print, and really started to take the whole thing seriously as a career more than just as a fun hobby.
With that said, here are a few things I learned over the course of 2015 about the field.
1. Publishing a book is extremely satisfying.
This should be a no-brainer, but it deserves to be said. After years of work and countless hours, there’s something special about being able to release your work and see others reading it. I’ve done a few artistic endeavors over the years, but a novel is particularly gratifying. Perhaps it’s the time investment or the emotional one. Whatever the case is, finally looking at a piece and going “It’s done” is thrilling and worth the effort.
Are there things I would change? Sure. I don’t think any artist is every completely happy with the end result. I would have loved to go traditional publishing, or get a better cover, or nitpick at the words. But, it’s over and out and the readers seem to enjoy it. That ending is probably the hardest one for most authors to achieve, as we are fickle towards our own work, but it needs to be done.
2. Query letters are really difficult.
Before finally releasing The Sky Thief, I tried querying it through traditional means. Unfortunately, writing a query letter is probably as difficult or even more so than writing the book itself. Understanding what agents want and how to condense tour story into three paragraphs is enough to drive an author crazy.
Doing the traditional process wasn’t all bad, though, and it gave me insight into the industry. I’ll write a deeper post about my experiences between self and trad publishing later, but for now, I’ll just say that it was worth the effort to try. If life situations had allowed me to keep querying TST, I probably would do so. Instead, I’ll have to keep in mind for other projects outside of The Sky Thief.
3. Hybrid-publishing is both easy and frustrating.
For The Sky Thief, I went hybrid. For the most part, it was extremely easy. When using Scrivener as my main writing tool, formatting and converting my words into an e-reader format was no trouble at all. Uploading to Amazon and setting up the page took less than an hour, and it’s easy to see why authors enjoy control it provides.
That said, there were parts of it that frustrated me, largely in dealing with the physical copies. I went through CreateSpace and designed everything on my own. However, understanding the formatting for print took considerably more time and effort than the digital copy, enough so that I can’t really recommend doing it entirely yourself unless you are proficient in graphic design and typesetting. Given that it takes roughly 12 hours for CreateSpace to approve ANY changes to your book, it took nearly three weeks to completely set-up my book the way I wanted. It should take less time the second go around, but it may be better just to outsource it with the time involved for proofing.
4. Print is still king.
It’s not a fact many self-published authors want to hear, but it is a fact. While I enjoyed the creative control offer by releasing The Sky Thief myself, I would not hesitate to traditionally publish it whatsoever. Many look at the royalties for self-published authors, which i admit are nice, but outside of a few select genres (mostly Romance/Erotica), it is very clear even in my small sample that people want physical copies of books.
At nearly every phase of creation and release, I had people asking for paperbacks or physical copies. Everyone kept saying “I don’t have a Kindle,” or at least would not pay less for a book for a phone version when they could have a real copy. My sales reflect the recent numbers given for 2014 readership that only ~25% of U.S. readers read an e-book versus nearly 75% that read a book in general. Given what I’ve seen, I really do not think I could release a digital-only book anytime soon; my readership needs something to hold. Whether it’s through traditional publishing or hybrid self-publishing, real books aren’t going anywhere.
5. The future is bright.
Getting some experience in publishing in has given me some hope for the year ahead. Now that I know I can do, I have no reason not to keep doing it so long as I love writing. I’m currently in the thick of writing the second book for Ghaoithe’s little adventure, Sand Hunter, though I have no idea if it will be done before the end of the year. But, at the very least, I’ll have more confidence in it than I did for the first book. Plus, I always have a couple other projects mulling about my head to try my hand at querying again when the time comes.
So, enough about the past. On to the future. 🙂
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