Guest post by Ryan Hanley.
It’s easy to romanticize self-publishing.
Indeed, self-publishing is an amazing experience for sure, but romantic, it is not.
I’d like to share with you a few realities of self-publishing learned while producing my first book, Content Warfare: How to find your audience, tell your story and win the battle for attention online.
Writing Content Warfare was my side hustle. I have a full-time job. I’m the managing editor of Agency Nation, a digital publication for the insurance industry. Not to mention maintaining my own podcast and blog.
Self-publishing is a side hustle for many first-time authors. But as a first-time author, there are aspects of self-publishing you haven’t experienced yet.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t self-publish, but understand that…
1 – There will never be time to write
One of the first questions I receive about writing is always, “How did you find the time?”
You’re never going to have time. Never.
All writers have a troubled relationship with time. The reality is, you have to make time or there will never be time to write. It’s that simple.
Writing Content Warfare, (did I mention a one-year old son), meant writing till I passed out, then turning around 4:00 am writing sessions.
If you want to self-publish, you have to write.
2 – You need to pay professional help
I don’t care how talented you believe yourself to be. To publish the best possible version of your work, you’re going to need help.
This means an editor, cover designer, interior designer, etc.
Is it possible your spouse is great with words and nephew has a bootleg copy of Adobe Photoshop? Sure it is. And maybe their work will be good enough.
My recommendation is you don’t go budget. Pay professionals to help display your message in a format worthy of the time you’ve put into crafting it.
In particular I’d say an interior designer is money well spent. This is the person who’s going to make sure your book is easy to read and fits the various publishing formats.
Put your message on display.
3 – Other projects will suffer
As I mentioned in the intro, besides my work at Agency Nation, I also have a blog and podcast. I’ve been blogging for more than six years and podcasting for over two years.
When it came time to write Content Warfare, there was no realistic way for me to keep pace on the blog and podcast. Fat had to be trimmed.
If you’ve just begun to plan your book, think about stockpiling content for your other projects. This way you don’t feel the pressure to take time away from your book to publish content elsewhere.
The other option would be to let your audience know you’ll be dialing it back for a while as you work on the book.
Your True Fans will understand.
4 – No more TV
Your DVR is going to fill up with Archer, Parks and Recreation and Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Same goes for video games, leisure reading and any other hobbies you might have had. Side hustle self-publishing is going to consume every hour not spent on family or your full-time job.
Here is a quick tip for breaking yourself of the TV habit.
Every time you turn the TV on, slap yourself across the face.
Unless you’re a complete masochist, your TV watch time should diminish in short order.
Less TV, more writing.
5 – Your loved ones will hate you a little
Your self-publishing journey is going to become all consuming.
You’re out of bed early and in bed late. You’re going to be distant.
You’re going to be distracted. You’re going to be tired.
You’re going to be happy for no reason. You’re going to be pissed for no reason.
You will be on an emotional roller coaster, all by yourself. This will be tough for your friends and loved ones to handle. They are not going to understand your journey.
Take this as inevitable and keep pushing.Your self-publishing journey is going to become all consuming.
6 – Things will go wrong
No matter how well you plan your self-publishing journey, things are going to go wrong. In all reality, more than one thing will go wrong.
A file will get corrupted. Your cover design won’t fit the Createspace template. Your editor will miss a deadline.
Things will go wrong and you’ll have to carry on. You are the only person who is going to make your self-published book happen.
No publisher will be beating down your door for chapters or edits. No literary agent will be coordinating contractors to make sure everything gets done.
Things will go wrong and you are the only one that will fix them.
Get it done.
7 – Your first feeling will be relief
When you’re finally done and the book is published, your first feeling will not be pride or joy, but relief.
Relief that its done.
Relief that you don’t have write anymore. Relief that you didn’t give up. Relief that you made good on all your promises.
Relief that you didn’t risk your relationships, audience and job for nothing.
Before you ever feel the pride of self-publishing you will feel relief.
Let the relief wash over you. It’s natural to feel relief.
Now get excited. You just self-published!
Self-Publishing is Worth It
Despite the realities, self-publishing is 100%, without a doubt worth it.
Whether the Content Warfare book becomes a bestseller is yet to be seen. Even if no one were to buy it, the process was worth every bit of energy expended, every tick of the clock and every stress felt.
I’m better today for having self-published my book.
I’m better at research. I’m better at strategy. I’m better at budgeting. I’m better at setting expectations. I’m better at building hype. I’m better at selling.
Self-publishing isn’t a tactic. You leave a piece of your soul inside your book. It becomes a part of who you are (or at least were at that time).
Self-publishing is a pain in the ass, but it’s the most rewarding pain in the ass you’re ever create (outside of maybe children).
Now get to work.
Thank you and good luck,
NOTE FROM DENISE: Last year on Adventures in Visibility, I interviewed Ryan Hanley about his crowdfunding project for Content Warfare. If you’re contemplating the self-publishing route for your book, the interview is worth watching (or listening to) to learn how Ryan exceeded his crowdfunding goal.