Dos and Don'ts for Self-Published Authors
1. Don't be in such a God-awful hurry to get your story out there.
Congratulations you've managed to string 86,000 words together to tell a story with a beginning and an end. But do you have something compelling, well-written and well-plotted between "Once upon a time" and "The End?"
There's more to storytelling than what meets the eye. Take your time to learn the craft.
2. Don't assume everyone will love your story.
I'll never forget the words of my high school government teacher: "Of course you'll think your paper is brilliant if you wrote it."
I guess it falls under the same basic principle as the phrase, "He has a face only a mother could love."
You're going to get negative reviews Need proof? Even J.K. Rowling, Harper Lee and JRR Tolkien have one-star reviews.
3. Do join a critique group/hire an editor/bounce ideas off of trusted confidants.
Writing may be the chosen pastime of introverts, but these connections are a necessity. Believe me.
4. Don't revisit your Amazon page every 15 minutes to see if your ranking has jumped or dropped.
They're updated hourly, so you're only wasting your time to check back that often.
5. Do learn the rules of copyright.
No, you can't use song lyrics unless you have written permission from the person who owns the song.
6. Don't bitch and moan when media outlets don't take you seriously when you're looking for publicity.
Yes, I know it seems unfair, but this is one of the down sides of choosing the publishing route you've chosen.
7. Do use creative marketing.
Taking out ads on Facebook and Goodreads might not get the response you want. You might have to resort to shaving your book's title in the fur above your dogs butt and taking him on a walk in a busy park to get the attention you're seeking. Have fun with it.
8. Do be aggressive in your self-promotion.
Now is not the time to be a wallflower. Go get 'em, Tiger. You're an animal.
9. Do write without apology.
This one takes what I said about negative reviews one step farther. These are YOUR words This is YOUR story. Someone might not like it. Someone might not agree with what you've written. You should NEVER have to apologize for writing from the heart.
10. Don't "settle" for self-publishing.
In other words, make sure you're choosing to self-publish for the right reasons.
I chose to self-publish so I could maintain creative control over the Christian/secular elements of my story and because I'm still toying with the decision of whether or not I want to write another book. My decision to self-publish came after years -- seriously, years -- of soul-searching.
If your dream is to be a traditionally published author, but you can't get the attention of an agent or a publisher then there's a good chance there's something about your writing or your story that's not quite right yet.
That doesn't mean rip up your query letter and make a B-line for CreateSpace. There's too many people who have already done that; it's how the self-pub market got its stigma in the first place.
Bonus: Don't let others make you feel inferior for choosing to self-publish.
I know that's easier said than done, especially considering what I said in No. 6. But there's a name for those who judge an entire group of people based on the characteristics of a few. It's not a very kind name either.
***Kathryn Harris is a journalist, a weekend blogger, a wife, a mother of two and the author of "The Long Road to Heaven," a novel about finding faith and forgiveness in the aftermath of addiction.