Saturday, June 12, 2021

In Defense of Screwing it up

Yes, my last post was about how I quit my job in favor of writing full-time, but I swear that's not what I'm referring to with the title, at least not yet.

The Point (complete with metaphor!)

Trying to get everything done as an independent publisher can feel like that day you first went in the ocean. It was cold (my memories are of the Pacific Ocean), and smelled weird, and just when you started to understand what the waves were doing, you turned your back on them for a moment and you got tumbled under the water until you didn't know which way was up.

Here's an incomplete list of things you will have to deal with to get a book published, in no particular order: knowing the different types of editors and figuring out which you need, how to get a cover for your book and how to make sure it is one that will help the book sell, getting a domain, creating a web site, setting up a newsletter, authenticating your domain, what affects deliverability of your newsletter, reader magnets, sales copy, reviews, street teams, ARCs, advertising, book categories, pricing, taxes... The list goes on.

And all of that is after you manage to write a book in the first place.

No, you can't really farm this out to someone else. I mean, you might be able to find a virtual assistant to do some of it, but unless you're really lucky, you're going to have to train that VA in those tasks, so you still have to know about it. Some of the things on the list you can ignore for a while (or forever), but you'll probably have to face them at some point.

But the good news is that you are absolutely allowed to screw it up.*

Is your sales copy terrible? That's okay. You can fix it later. Are your covers making readers think the book is urban fantasy instead of space opera? You can fix it. Did you end up with typos sprinkled liberally throughout the text despite proofreading? Not ideal, but you can fix it. Did you send the world's most boring newsletter and everyone unsubscribed? It didn't kill you and the next one will be better.

The beauty of ebooks and POD (print on demand) is that everything is flexible. There aren't 2,000 copies of your book with a typo in the first line that have to be sold before the next printing. Nothing is permanent.

Yes, it's better to get it right on the first try, and you should certainly put in the effort, but if making sure everything is perfect before you publish is keeping you from publishing, get over it. Make the mistakes. Fix them. Learn from it. Do better next time.

* It's probably better not to screw up too badly on the taxes.

Obligatory Pet Photo

Here's an old photo of the big dog at Putah Creek. Even he occasionally messes things up. And he's perfect.
Shows head and shoulders of alert and happy Alaskan Husky mix in front of a large river with green trees lining the banks

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