But I always learned from them.
It recently occurred to me that this May will be 5 years since The Spider’s Web was first published with Torquere.
That publisher folded six months after my first book was published, and I was never paid for it. I did get the rights back (obviously), but it got me thinking of all the things I’ve accomplished in the past five years, and the things I would have done differently.
Below, I’ve listed out five things I’d have done differently in publishing, and next week I’ll share 5 things I’ve done right.
- Not reading nonfiction sooner
I didn’t start reading nonfiction for fun until 2012. Nonfiction books were a chore I had to slog through when writing papers for school. I much preferred the escapism of novels. That finally changed when I discovered narrative nonfiction, particularly The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Eighty Days. Books like these brought history to life and got me reading more broadly, including biographies, books on science and technology, and especially medical history.
- Not researching self publishing sooner
It’s always been my ambition to be traditionally published. While I do like the control of self publishing, I also recognize that I’m not suited to all aspects of it, and that it takes money to get started in. Amazon has been a blessing, in a way, because the start up costs are zero unless I need hard copies for an event. I’m lucky in that I live with a fellow writer and graphic designer, who provides editorial support and cover art. But I wish I’d known more about what I was getting into before my publisher collapsed.
- Not hiring professional editors
This is something I’m working on rectifying, with help from my patrons and Ko-fi supporters.
Editing services are expensive, but necessary. While Ash and I frequently edit for each other, I do like having an outside set of eyes. But publishing 2 books a year, it’s hard to put together $300-$500 for each book.
Now that I’m finally making enough to live on, I can start investing in my business instead of just ramen.
- Getting caught up in the “should haves”
How does one learn?
By researching, and watching others.
In writing and promotion, though, one has be be very carful not to imitate bad habits or things that don’t matter. I started a Facebook paged because I was “supposed to.” I spent far too much money on hosting a site that never worked correctly. But then I learned that I hate Facebook, and paid WordPress.com sites just don’t work well and aren’t worth the bill. So I deleted my Facebook account and in March when my license is up, I’ll go back to a .wordpress account instead of a self hosted site, and work on building up traffic to my Gumroad shop, which is easy for me to use, has reasonable fees, and far more options than either WordPress.com or Amazon have allowed with my previous shops.
- Underestimating chronic illness, and overestimating myself
This lesson was the hardest to learn. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness a couple of years ago, and lost six months to brain fog and chronic fatigue. It was another year before I recovered enough to write regularly again, and I still struggle with fatigue and other issues on a daily basis. This isn’t exactly something I did wrong, per say, but I learned very quickly that I needed to add more leeway into my production time and drafting. I think my days of producing 3 books a year are behind me now, which is unfortunate.
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