“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”
“All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?”
Confession time: the latter half of the summer was slow for me productivity-wise. As difficult as it can be to read a quote like this I always appreciate the solid kick in the ass that it brings. Writer’s block is a myth, an easy excuse for the struggle that comes with the work. No one says writing will be easy. No one says writing will be fun. But when it’s all over there is no denying how rewarding it can be.
This is not a pity post. I say that because I know some folks will read emotion into blog posts like this and I’m not looking to garner sympathy. My intention is to share my own experiences and inform people about the work it takes to launch an indie title. It’s no secret that indie publishing is hard work. It requires a lot of time and intense dedication, the cliche “blood, sweat, and tears” applies. I want to help in that regard, I want to let you know what the book-launching part of indie publishing entails so when you face your own launch you are better equipped.
First, a little bit of background. For those unaware, I work two full-time jobs. There’s my day job (UX designer) which I have been doing for a long time and I love. It helps support my second job… which is being this writer here, the guy who writes books, blogs blog posts, tweets tweets, etc. It’s another job that I absolutely adore. Both are incredibly fulfilling, and every day they take me down different paths creatively. I have mentioned before that I chose indie publishing because I didn’t want to give up control. I wanted to be responsible for my books from start to finish from the moment a reader hears about it on the web, to the moment they crack open the paperback. I wanted to curate the reader’s experience by making the story of The Bell Forging Cycle to be as cohesive as possible. To achieve that I felt I needed nuanced control over everything. I wanted to have control over the design of my web presence, the covers of my books, even the interiors of the paperbacks. Many of those elements are involved in a book launch, and as the series has grown, so has each consecutive launch.
It’s easy to write, but in reality it’s tough. It makes for a lot of work. September for me has become crunch time. Right now, here’s my typical day: I wake up around 7:30 a.m., pour coffee down my throat, run to work, spend eight to nine hours at my day job, run home, eat a quick dinner with Kari-Lise, and then it’s into my office where I work until at least 12:00 a.m. (recently it’s been closer to 1 or 2:00 a.m.). Then when the day ends, I crash out. The following morning, I am back at it. While I enjoy the work, it has made most of September a weird routine of cycles. I also haven’t done much writing (or reading for that matter). Life right now is the launch.
To put it in perspective, here’s my list of things that I need to get done before Red Litten World’s launch. Some of these take more time than others, some less, but I feel each of them are an important part in making the launch of Book III as successful as it can be.
Finalize edits & copy edits(Yay!)
- Finalize paperback interior (I think I’m real close)
- Finalize paperback cover (Again, real close)
- Finalize ebook interior (Close, if not done)
Finalize ebook cover(Aww yiss)
- Deal with Nook layout (Yeah, it gets its own line item)
- Finalize bookmarks
- Finalize stickers
- Product photos
Finalize buttons(Yay, done!)
- Prep redlittenworld.com for launch
- Prep bellforgingcycle.com for launch
- Prep kmalexander.com for launch
- Prep updates for store.kmalexander.com
- Prep [REDACTED] (Got to keep some things secret)
- Finalize [REDACTED]
- Work on [REDACTED]
- Prep launch blog posts (I usually write posts in advance)
- Prep advertising (For the sake of brevity I am listing this as one line item, on my real list it’s four or five due to the various ad networks and their various requirements)
- Finalize new contests
Set up Goodreads page(Done! Add RLW to your To-Read list)
It’s a formidable list, an it’s just the start, my to-do list continues to grow and deadlines approach. There’s a misconception out there (one I have spoken about before) that indie publishing is easy and cheap. But it’s not. To do it right takes time, money, and will. All those things have a cost. Not everyone wants to spend the effort, and that’s okay. Thankfully there are other alternatives for people who aren’t as insane as folks like me. (Traditional publishing, while stressful in its own way, removes a lot of this labor.)
As I said at the start, I’m not looking for sympathy. I love this. I love the thrill. I love being able to insert little secrets and details, not just in the books themselves, but throughout the experience as a whole. For me, it’s a rush. I’m lucky I have an understanding partner and I’m blessed (#Blessed) that I am able to carve out time to do all of this. (Usually this comes at the expense of time-sinks like games, movies, and television. Try cutting back yourself, you’ll be amazing at how much time you have.) I share this because I like transparency, I enjoy telling of my journey to publication. It’s why I started this blog in the first place. I hope my experiences can help others learn and grow in their own lives. I also hope others are able to understand what it takes to “do it right” as it were. I think some of the usual shade thrown at indie publishing comes because there is a group who dive into the deep end and don’t fully understand the work involved with launching a quality product. Our collective reputation grows the better we all strive to become.
The best part about all of this: it’s all totally worth it. Whenever I hear from a reader, talk with a fan, meet someone at a convention, or see a new review, all the effort fades away. I tell stories to entertain, to enrich, to challenge, and to thrill. If I can do any of those for even one person, I’m a pretty happy writer.
Now, back to it, Lovat awaits and the launch is near.
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Found this quote as encouragement for a friend of mine and I figured I’d share it here with everyone. Stay away from the small people, their opinions are useless to your journey. Twain, as usual, is right. As I wrote to my friend: keep your head down, lock those shoulders forward, press through. You got this.