Saturday, March 5, 2016

Before You Press 'Publish:' This Indie's One Regret

I've had a lot of time to think about this, and I finally know what I want to say.

Maybe it will help prevent another debut author out there from making the same mistake.

Since publishing my debut novel in May 2015, I've had a lot of people ask if I regret going the indie route.

The answer is a resounding NO.

I love the fact that I maintained creative control of every aspect of the process. I love that the only pressure I have to publish again is the pressure I put on myself.  I love that I get to set the price and can decide on a whim to have a sale.

The lingering stigma of being an indie author is sometimes a pain, but it does not outweigh the positives.

To be honest, there's only one regret I have about the release of my debut novel. I'm finally ready to write about it now.

The one regret is my lack of research on and preparation for "The Bang" of release day.

A few years back, I was well on my way to building a solid platform. I regularly blogged at least three times a week. I was part of this incredible blog chain of ambitious authors who were serious about their craft, most of whom went on to be traditionally published and are now fairly well-known in their genres. (Take my word for it, they're an awesome bunch.) I was building a local following on Facebook and just beginning to scratch the surface with Twitter, which was pretty new.

Then life got in the way. This blog and my Twitter account sat idle for a long time.

I'd all but decided not to pursue any sort of publication until a coworker said she had some downtime at her moonlighting job and needed to find something new to read.

Of course, I opened my big mouth: "Hey, Sarah, do you know I wrote a book?" 

That led to Sarah ask if she could read my book, which led to her lobbying for my book to be published as a serial on the newspaper's website, which led to me getting punched in the arm and getting called a not-so-nice name by the newspaper's ad director after she read Chapter 11.

What can I say? I'm a heartless bitch who likes plot twists that piss people off.

It was encouraging to see two people become so excited about the story, but it was terrifying to think about the next step they were urging me to take.

My book? Out there for the world to see? What if people hate it? What if I suffer in comparison to other authors?

I spent a lot of time in prayerful consideration about the offer to publish as a serial and on other platforms. After all, "Long Road" was my baby. It's the story I had slaved over for years; the story I poured my heart and soul into. Was this how I wanted to send it out into the world?

When I finally decided it was time, I had about four weeks to pull everything together. Final readings. Cover development. Formatting. Proofing. Everything that goes into getting a book ready for its big day.

Everything, that is, except plans for the big day itself.

I didn't send out ARCs. I didn't contact book bloggers. I didn't grovel at the virtual feet of book reviewers. I didn't rejoin any online writing groups prior to the release date. I didn't do any pre-sale advertising. I didn't plan any appearances.

I'm not complaining. Really, I'm not.

Considering the serial was regularly one of the most viewed sections on a site that serves as a news hub for a 22-county area of Nebraska and I generated sales and readership across the country from that, I don't think I can complain.

But part of me -- the same part that wonders if I'll ever publish anymore fiction -- can't help but wonder what would've happened if I'd have had a more solid platform established and a better gameplan set for the day I hit "publish."

They say hindsight is always 20/20. My only regret about "Long Road" is I wish I would've at least squinted to gain better foresight when it came to creating a pre-publishing buzz.

Live and learn. Better luck next time. (Assuming there is a next time.)

***
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The Long Road to Heaven by Kathryn  Harris

The Long Road to Heaven

by Kathryn Harris

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3 comments:

S. T. March said...

I hope you do publish more fiction. I have just started to read your book, and I'm not sugarcoating anything when I say that your writing style is fantastic!

Kathryn Harris said...

Awww...Thank you. Your comment makes me so happy. I hope the remainder doesn't disappoint.

T. A. Peters said...

Thanks for writing this blog... I've gone the Indie route on two novels and a five book serial and wish I had known from the beginning what I know now about social network marketing and release publicity. Sharing your experience may help to keep some other first-time author from jumping the gun.