Like many new, struggling authors, I had no idea what I was getting into. Once I finished my 82,000 word “masterpiece” and read through it a dozen times, editing and fixing mistakes, it was ready to be edited by a new set of eyes. That task fell to my English Major brother. He found all the mistakes I missed, and now the manuscript was looking good. Now it was time to be proofread by an expert of the genre, my mother. She has probably read every fantasy and sci-fi novel ever written, so she would be the perfect judge of the content, the writing style, the characters, the plot, etc. Of course, she loved it. It was ready to be published. All I had to do was send out a few queries, and wait for the agents to call.
All joking aside, I will back up a little bit. During this entire process, I knew I needed a real, professional copy-editor. I desperately wanted that, and I knew my book would suffer without it. However, as most indie authors know, $1500+ for a copy-edit is basically impossible. My only hope was to find as many readers as I possibly could, and ask them to critique me as much as possible. A few readers did this, and it helped. My book was better than it has ever been, but that $1500+ still haunts me. My book will never be professional without it.
Writing and Critique groups have helped a lot. Every new person I share my book with, points out new things that really help. It is getting better all the time. I have also changed my cover and my blurb at least a dozen times. Each change was a huge improvement. The more I research these things, and see what others are doing, the better it becomes.
I quickly gave up on getting an agent. I knew that without a $$$ professional, for the manuscript, and the query letter, and the synopsis, I would never get past the slush pile. I turned to Amazon and self-published. At the same time, I began promoting myself on social media. I use Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, but because I also work full time, I chose the two that I thought would be the most beneficial – Twitter and Facebook. I still visit GR as often as possible, but I am not there as often as I would like. I try to follow the rules of Facebook and Twitter – 33% self promotion, 33% promoting others, 34% socializing. I am also starting to look into some of the lower cost advertising options on sites like Facebook, and the big book blogs. I know that will help, and many of the rates are reasonable.
Becoming an Indie author has also taught me that it will be a very long and slow process. No one knows I exist. I look at some of the Amazon bestsellers with jealousy, but then I realize, they also started slow. They had to promote themselves and gain readers and followers before they became successful. They had to do the work, and they all have multiple books available. I still only have one available now, with the second still two months away. When I think about it that way, I become more optimistic. I am slowly gaining more readers and followers, and I am getting more of my writing out there. I have a blog where most of my posts are original short stories from the world of Azenaria.
I still devour every article and blog post I can find about self-publishing, marketing and promoting, finding readers and reviewers, etc. I will never be too proud to listen to the advice of others. I know I have a long way to go, and that $1500+ copy-edit will always be my major priority. Make that $3000+ once I finish my second book. I love being an indie. It is hard work, but the camaraderie I get from all the other indies out there makes it fun and worthwhile.