Saturday, October 26, 2019
I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING
Pretend you want to be a writer.
You have a great idea for a story and you've begun to bang it out on your computer.
But you have some questions.
How do you publish your story once it's complete? Where do you publish it? Should you publish an eBook, paperback, hardcover, or all three? How do you format the final product? What font should you use? How do you do the cover? Can you do the cover yourself or do you need to hire someone to create it for you? Where can you find a reputable, dependable, and experienced cover artist? Should you hire an editor? Where can you find a reputable, dependable, and experienced editor? Should you just hire someone to put it all together? How much is all that going to cost? Can you reasonably expect to make enough money back on sales to cover that expense? Is it possible to make a living out of writing? Should you quit your job and dive right in? Do you need a website? How about a blog? What kind of content should you include on your blog? How often should you post that content? Won't that take you away from writing more books? How does social media come into play? Should you forget all about the self publishing route and shop your book to publishers? How does that even work?
So yeah, that's a lot of questions. But here's the thing, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
What you'll find when you start asking questions is that there are a crap ton of people out there who have the answers.
Many of these people are happy to answer your questions for free. Just as many demand payment to impart their wisdom.
The problem there is that for every one of those questions, there's three to four times as many answers depending on who you ask. And what makes things even more difficult is attempting to figure out whose answer you are going to put your trust into.
The folks who are quick to offer their advice for free are great. But do they truly know what they're talking about? Some do, some don't.
What about the people who charge a fee for advice? Can you trust that they are steering you in the right direction and not just trying to make a buck? Again, some can truly help, while the others are there to line their pockets.
It can be enough to make a person want walk away from the whole thing without even trying.
Myself, I'd turned on the flood gates and let all the free advice that was out there drown me. In time I've come to just ignore it all.
Of course what that means is that I have no idea what I'm doing.
Take this blog for example. First off, it's on Blogger. I see nothing wrong with that myself, but i know that there are a lot of people out there that would just love to line up and tell me what a moron I am for using the free service. They want to tell me that I can't trust that all my content will still be out there in a year if Blogger (or any site like it) decides to just up and pull the plug on things.
Of course, I don't worry about all that. I have backups of everything.
But the fact is, I don't use Blogger for the ease of use (and after a number of years using it, I do find it easy and comfortable). No, I use Blogger because it is free, and free is all I can afford.
It's tough being a writer trying to get things done when you have no money. I once saw a post on one of the various social media sites in which a fellow self published writer degraded the book covers of other writers, stating that they obviously did their cover on the cheap and if so, why bother.
Well, I made the mistake of responding. I asked what is someone supposed to do if they want to write and self publish but just simply can't afford to hire someone to create a professional looking cover for them?
I was told at that point that anyone not willing to put some money toward their book is disrespecting their readers. I tried to explain that not everyone has money, even a little. Again I was told that you have to spend money to make money. If you can't buy a professional cover, if you can't hire a professional editor, then you shouldn't even be a writer.
And while there were a small handful of writers who offered suggestions for how a writer with no money could get these services through trade or other means, the resounding majority message was: No Money? Don't Bother. You Suck. Die.
Well, that certainly depressed me for a few days. I had a really hard time with it, and one question kept coming to me, pounding through my head over and over again:
The only people in the world who are allowed to try and follow their dreams are the ones with money?
The answer I found was, in most cases: Yes.
And yet, with that answer wedged firmly between the cockles of my heart, I decided that I didn't care. I was going to continue writing. When I finished a book I would put together the best looking cover I could. I was going to edit it myself, as best I could. I would put it out there and market it as best I could.
Maybe, just maybe, people would stumble across it and buy it. Maybe, just maybe, I could then take that money and put it into my writing.
Or maybe no one would buy it.
I had to face that possibility as well. And frankly, I decided that I didn't care.
Okay, that's not true. Of course I would care. It hurts when you spend time creating something from scratch, something that literally came straight out of your brain, something you put your heart into, something you love almost as much as your own family, and you put that creation out there into the world only to get nothing in return but silence.
So yes, I care. But I decided that I was just going to have to suck it up and put it out there anyway.
And so yeah, I have no idea what I'm doing. Am I using my blog the correct way? Is releasing a book of four novella's a mistake? Should I never say anything to anyone about what I'm writing until I have an actual book out there to sell?
I. DON'T. KNOW.
Because I just don't have the time, or the energy, to spend pouring through the blogs, the podcasts, and the tweets that pretend to tell me the right way to do it and how to avoid the wrong path. Not anymore.
9 Mistakes You Are Making With Your Author Blog. 10 Ways To Build Up Your Mailing List. 6 Pronouns You Should Never Use.
I just can't.
All that stuff does is slow me down and make me doubt myself. And it is everywhere.
But here's the thing. I think it's great that that stuff is out there. I do think that there are some truly great people out there who have figured out how to make it and have decided to share their experiences with others. I thank them for that. Much respect.
But I think I'm just going to do my thing. I'm going to continue to shout into the hurricane of indie publishing, of indie marketing, of all the people out there with something to sell, and hope that someone hears me.
A few of you have. Thank you. You help make it all worth it.
But yeah. Again.
I have no idea what I'm doing.
This thing right here is just a quick reminder that I have a new book coming out.
Then A Penguin Walked In and Other Tales Tales lands on Wednesday, December 4th for $4.99 for all of your eReading devices.
You can pre-order it now for just $2.99 at penguin.steevenorrelse.com
Another reminder: Join me on the Just Another Fanboy podcast every Monday through Friday, as I celebrate all the things I love in life such as comics, TV, movies, music, books, writing, and even other podcasts. You can find the show wherever you get you podcasts.
But just in case, here are some handy links:
Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Website