It's been a couple of years since A Foundation in Wisdom
was released, so I thought I'd drop an update on how things are going. It turns out, there's no easy route to publishing. Fortunately, I already realized that long before jumping in the pool. But it's important to reiterate to anyone else who has caught the "I want to publish myself" bug--it's not easier--or harder--but it is different
. So, know what to expect. Of course, that's good all-around advice.
I'm actually not doing too bad in Eastern North Carolina. Publishing is a business. And, like any business, you can expect to lose money while it grows. Somewhere I read that the average business takes three years to become profitable. I'll be entering that third year in a couple of months. While the financial side of things is not where I'd like them to be, all the indicators for the future are definitely pointing in the right direction--which isn't a bad state of affairs at all.
I've done three book signings recently, had my books featured in the newspapers on multiple occasions, and have consistently made sales since An Ember in the Wind
The downside--almost all my sales have been in Eastern North Carolina. It just goes to show that results are proportional to effort. I've recently started making a stronger effort to spread the word online. It's too early to see how my efforts will pay off, if I'm doing the right things, etc. Unfortunately, time spent marketing is time not spent writing.
Hence, I've learned one of the keys to succeeding is to be very efficient with your time. It helps if you have multiple talents, skills, etc. At my last book signing, I was surprised by how well my artwork was received. I never considered myself more than a "hobbyist" artist, but I was invited to show some of my digital paintings at a local gallery.
I'm also a programmer. My latest endeavor: I wrote an app--a sliding puzzle game
--for iPhone/Android devices. I was then able to set up my own "advertising network", which advertises my books. We'll see how that goes.
I once read that the biggest contributor to success in self-publishing is to publish... a lot
. And, now that I've started publishing apps, the same advice applies. If you want to get noticed, you have to produce--which leaves less time for procrastinating. (Hence, my absence as of late).
It seems difficult to think of good answers to the question "Why should I self-publish?". After all, there are plenty of bad
answers. (Avoiding rejection is probably the worst answer. It'll find you one way or another; If you're not laying your cards on the table, then you're not playing, and you'll never win).
So what's a good answer? Well, I'm still happy with my decision. It's a lot more work--but it should be. After all, I'm reaping all of the reward. Why should I expect an easy route that nobody has noticed before?
But I also still consider myself a "hobbyist". I'm a mathematician and educator first, and have no plans for my priorities to change. If anyone ever asked me for advice on whether or not to self-publish, or go the traditional route, my first response would be to "identify your priorities". If you self-publish, then you're also the publicist, marketing department, etc. If you like
doing those things, then go for it. If you don't, then maybe you should let the experts help you with that. Of course, you'll be doing a lot of that work yourself--but I imagine it's easier when you have people telling you how to do it, then trying to figure it out on your own.