As we round out 2010, I can’t help but to think of some of my goals. Even if you’re not a “resolution” type of person, I think the end of the year naturally brings with it some time for reflection. Lately, I’ve been thinking about publishing.
The publishing world has changed a lot, even from the time I first did it back in 2003. Today, we can literally write an ebook today and sell it tomorrow. Books take slighter longer, but not much. And when I say “we,” I mean all those people who want to publish themselves. There are times when that is beneficial, and times when patience is a publishing virtue.
The concept of patience, when you have the ability to just whip something out there on the market tout de suite, might seem incongruent but I can assure you it isn’t. There are times when patience is prudent. Not every brilliant word you crank out should be published today immediately or even tomorrow or next week. Sometimes you have to look at timing: of your career, subject matter, publishing method, etc.
I’m no stranger to patience. In 2002, I decided to publish a book of poetry. The poetry, even then, was reflective of times from my earlier life. I was in such a different place that it almost felt odd publishing it. But I wanted to do it for myself. For that reason, I never sent out queries to traditional publishers. I don’t look back on that now and think, oh I should have done it this way… because the point was that I chose to self-publish because it was for myself. (At least, that’s what I thought at the time. I’ve learned since that publishing is for the world. Writing is for you.)
I really hem-hawed with publishing my first book. I was clueless back then as to how to go about it. Sure, I created ebooks and pamphlets for the people I worked for in the corporate world… but that wasn’t the same as publishing. Was it? Turns it, it wasn’t too far off. But in addition to the physical act of publishing a book, there are other things you need to do as well, like promotion and market research. That is, if you want your book to have any kind of success. (And by success, let’s be clear, it means selling copies.)
I wasn’t worried about selling copies of my poetry book, because no one buys them! LOL! I felt no pressure whatsoever, and I think that helped me. Still, I was ready to publish and then held off. I felt like I was rushing it. I felt like the timing wasn’t right for some reason.
I held off until 2003. Then, I talked with a representative from iUniverse. At the time, they were a good option for me. They used Lightning Source, which I learned more about, and they formatted everything and put it up at their store, and then sent you royalty checks. I signed a three-year contract with them. I learned a ton and don’t regret it. The interesting thing is, once again I held off. I was getting married and wanted my new book to be in my new name. So I asked to have my book shelved for several months, until I could release it at the same time I got married. I went through final edits of that book on New Year’s Eve 2003, and it was released in 2004. Even now, when I think of New Year’s Eve, I remember that night when I sent my notes and my final version to them. I remember my (then) boyfriend (now, husband) making us dinner while I worked on my laptop. I remember the feeling of anticipation, and yet, I also remember being glad I waited.
If I had published in 2002 as I originally planned, I wouldn’t have been as educated about the publishing industry and book marketing. When my book came out in 2003/4 I was prepared. I got interviews in some online magazines, I was in the paper, I sold a bunch of copies on Amazon (400 in one month, which is great for a poetry book) and even did a book signing (something I don’t do too often today – because I’m a dork) and at the end of the first year I had sold 1,000 copies. Now for a poetry book? That was really good. I was glad I had waited.
Even then, I had people yelping in my ear about hurrying up to be published. Today, I still have that, only this time it’s for my fiction work. Once again, I’m entering a new publishing area and I’m feeling my way along. I have my own little publishing house now so I could publish my own fiction, but I don’t want to. I have two novels written, one that is mainstream and one that is Christian fiction. I’m exploring options, praying, and reflecting on what I think is the right path for my book, and which will work out best for me and my family.
I’m searching for an agent, but what’s more is I’m searching for the right genre and market place for me. I’m not just looking at trends, or what I can make money at, but what’s right for my brand – the things I represent and am passionate about. I’ve had some wonderful assistance with that this year, and I hope it all continues in 2011. But one thing I know is for sure, I’m willing to wait it out and determine not just the best way to publish, but the best time.