Self-Publishing — Making Your Bones
I guess analogy sort of makes publishing like the mafia. I don’t know if I would draw that connection too broadly, but there is this one similarity: If you sit on the sidelines and call yourself a writer for too long, eventually you’re going to be called upon to prove yourself worthy of the title.
Eventually, you have to make your move.
I set out to self-publish my first book knowing I would likely fail. A lot. But I was eager to do it, because I wanted to get the experience. I learn best from hands-on experience, and I am not great at relinquishing control of my creations, so self-publishing seemed like a good fit. I didn’t study English or writing in school, and I didn’t finish any of the six majors I started throughout my college career. Instead, I have always pieced together my education in life based on my passions of the moment, so when I got into the writing business, I was naturally anxious to dive into publishing.
Not surprisingly, my greatest lessons came from my greatest mistakes. For example, I quickly learned the hardest part of publishing is marketing. Writing a book, finding editors, formatting, cover design – creating the product was easy. (It was work, but it was easy.) Marketing, on the other hand, is full of nuances, tricks, methods, and surprises that I have only learned through trial-and-error.
On Becoming a Rich and Famous Author
I haven’t become famous – or even known – from that book, and it has not made me rich – or even “comfortable”. But, I have learned a lot, and that sort of overshadows those first two things at this point in my career. My goal is to be a successful writer, so I have to take leaps into this industry. Even though my first project is small potatoes, I broke the seal and made my first sale – and then my second, third, etc. – I tried something new, moved forward.
I’ll release my second book, The Hart Compound, on April 1, 2012. It’s better than the first. Isn’t that the point? I can’t do much more at this point than learn a bit with each step I take. Certainly the journey of producing and promoting The Hart Compound has been better than it was with the first book. I have a better understanding of my audience and my goals; I had more time to plan for this book’s promotion; I have more connections and more readers going into this one (mostly because now, I have some). That’s the best I can hope for, as I prepare for the next leap.
About Dana Sitar
Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and author of the ongoing memoir series This Artists’ Life. Her latest release, The Hart Compound, follows the writer to her journalistic roots as Senior Campaign Writer to a Mayoral campaign headed by two Madison, Wisconsin comedians. Dana shares writing tips and anecdotes at her blog by.dana.sitar. Follow her @danasitar on Twitter.