Thursday, January 10, 2013

Process. Also Hello.

"It’s all a process.”  Since I started self-publishing, I think I’ve told myself that four or five times a day.  Usually, I think of the word "process" as one of those meaningless corporate catch-phrases, adored by bureaucrats and middle-management stooges.  Surely I, the great Lilia Ford, must have a grander, cooler, wittier word for describing my experience becoming an author and part of the self-publishing community? 

Apparently, my inner self is nostalgic for my years as a paralegal/administrative assistant. 

Rather than striving for impressiveness, I will try for candor.  So why “process?” I’ll give two reasons.  First of all the word actually works as a kind of mantra, a source of calm and comfort when I approach the "vortex of despair." Just watch: I knew nothing, and I mean nothing, about self-publishing before I started.  Therefore, I make mistakes.  Sometimes I beat myself up and call myself dreadful names like “loser” or “incompetent” or “vile idiot who is worse than Voldemort.”  This is the "vortex of despair."  Enter the Mantra.  This is a process, it says soothingly.  I am learning as I go. Mistakes are inevitable.  Other people make them too.  None of my self-publishing mistakes are threatening the lives of my children.  Sanity is restored. 

Why does it work?  Well, that's the second point.  Process implies incremental: I’ve always known writing is an incremental process—I spent seven years on my dissertation.  It turns out, so is learning an entirely unfamiliar business.  I finished a draft of my book: now what?  Here’s an incomplete list of things I had to do:  Find an editor. Find a cover designer. Figure out how to format an ebook for Kindle.  Figure out how to upload the book. Figure out how to get the chapters to click and upload it again.  Figure out how to format for Barnes and Noble.  Figure out what Kobo and Smashwords are.  Figure out how to format for Apple ibooks.  Discover I need ISBNs for my books and figure out how to get them. 

Books are uploaded--hurrah!  OMG: I have to get people to buy them! 

Introducing a concept called “publicizing”, otherwise known as HOLY SHIT!  Get on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads.  Figure out where to advertise and then design ads!  Reviews!  Kindle Author Page! Get a domain name and then design a website!  (I designed this website all by myself!  With no help!  It shows?  Well duh!)  Discover there is something called "branding."  Try to get over my complete skepticism at the idea of a "Lilia Ford" brand.  Wonder endlessly what else I should be doing.  See Mantra above. 

Bottom line: It’s been a nerve-wracking, exciting, tedious, useless, necessary, wonderful, time-wasting, fulfilling, humiliating, glorious, never-ending PROCESS. 

A few high points: exchanging advice and support with other authors in various Yahoo groups; just about everything to do with Goodreads; selling twice as many books in November and December as I did in September and October; having readers reach out and say they loved the book. 

A few low points: trying to figure out how to get my chapters to “click”; learning how to design a website (sort of); selling lots of books based on my Facebook ads, only to have the ads banned because of complaints that my book cover was too steamy; proudly opening my book on my new Kindle Paper White and discovering I had to completely reformat it. 

Soooooooo… to get to my ultimate point.  In this latest stage of “the process,” I have decided to add a blog.  I don’t have an agenda for subject matter.  Posts will likely include book reviews, hopefully updates on the WIPs, musings on reading/writing/self-publishing, and maybe even my recipe for the MOSTDELICIOUS whole grain chocolate chip cookies in the solar system if not the galaxy.  I also don’t have a hard plan for how often.  Once a week?  (Should be doable.)  Twice a week?  (Within the realm of the possible.)  Once and then again in May?  (Also within the realm of the possible: in the history of blogs this has happened.  It's even happened to me.)

I hope you will stay tuned for this stage of the process.  And the cookies really are delicious.

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