10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1. Blast off!
If only it were so easy. But as anyone who works at NASA can tell you, getting to launch day is no picnic. And the same goes for launching a book. For indie authors the trick is holding down two jobs at once: the writing side and the publishing side. The key is to be agile—move between two worlds, toggle back and forth the way teenagers with a laptop toggle between their homework and YouTube with the subtle finesse of a ninja.
How is this done?
Good question. I’m not a ninja (yet) but I’ve learned a few things.
- Make lists. I am not an overly organized person. I’m a creative type. I do know some creatives who are also extremely organized, and I bow to them. However, the universe did not see fit to dole out both of those qualities to me when I made my appearance on the planet. Fortunately, I do know how to write lists and check things off them. I keep daily lists in a notes app and a master list of everything that must be done to write and publish my novel on a spreadsheet, with separate pages for the writing/editing process and the publishing/business side of things. The size of these lists is totally daunting and ridiculous. On the plus side, I LOVE checking off boxes.
- Create deadlines. This one is excruciating. But as long as you don’t have a deadline, you have the option of revising your book until you’re 87. Will it ever be done? Every time you open up your manuscript, you spot a dozen obvious fixes. This is an endless cycle that begins in a place of hope and joy and optimism and slowly grinds into terrain riddled with angst and despair and misery. Just say no to the next 40 years of your life being spent tinkering with one manuscript. Make a deadline for launch day (or week, or month) and stick to it. If your book isn’t perfect, who cares? That leads me to the next point.
- Your book will not be perfect. This is an anthem of freedom. Some people will love your book. Other people will criticize your book. But nobody will think anything of your book if you never publish it! I keep this in my mind every time I despair over the ‘historical novel police,’ the grumpy, frowning experts who loom over my shoulder every time I write down a specific detail about setting, language, clothing, food, transportation, or any other description of the 15th-century world I am creating in The Girl From Oto. Yes, I’ve researched exhaustively. I love research. I spend way too much time on research. I agonize over it and I revel in it. But there will inevitably be a mistake, and it will inevitably be seized upon and noted by someone. That’s OK. I know I’ve approached this project with love, integrity, and discipline. I’ve done my best. And yes, mistakes will be made. I’ll learn from them for my next book. That is a fine transition to my final point.
- Mistakes are great teachers. Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Great leaders know failure is necessary to success. So why fear it? There are so many roadblocks along this path of indie publishing that I’m not even aware of yet. Bring ’em on. I am in this for the long haul, and I see publishing this first novel as a great and exciting experiment. Will I make mistakes? Absolutely. Will I learn from them? At every step along the way.
- Let’s sum it up. Make lists and check things off. Create deadlines and stick to them. Accept that you’ll stumble along the way, with mistakes ranging from annoyances to epic fails. Learn from those failures, and keep going. Life is short, and you have a lot of words to write.