Five Reasons I Love Self-Publishing

With my book, The Illuminator’s Gift, releasing on Amazon in just 9 days, I’m almost done with this whirlwind publishing process. Not much time to sit back and relax yet, but it does give me pause to ask myself: is the self-publishing journey worth it?

Cover preview 1
A sneak peek at the book cover! Credit: Amalia Hillmann

Though the process isn’t yet finished, I’d say quite confidently, yesHere are five reasons I’m happy (so far) with the decision to self-publish:

1. I like a job where I get to wear a lot of hats. As you may know, when I was in kindergarten, I wanted to grow up to be EVERYTHING. Little did I know that I’d get my wish. Since jumping into self-publishing, I’ve gotten to dabble in tax and copyright law and dabble in typography, write contracts and write PR materials, learn the difference between a domain name and a web host and learn the difference between watercolor and acrylic paint. I’ve found myself good at some of these things and bad at others, but it’s all an adventure.

2. It’s been a real blessing and privilege to work with friends instead of New York businesspeople (nothing against them). And this is not only because it’s nice to have a say in the final look and feel of my book. It’s also nice to take breaks from spacing ellipses and evaluating thumbnails to chat about church, relationships, travels. To compare coffee flavors and car gas mileage. To make excited noises about the beauty we’re co-creating. To work alongside other young creatives looking for a place to penetrate the forest canopy.

Cover preview 2
Credit: Amalia Hillmann

3. Going to “the publishing house” in my pajamas is a pretty cushy perk! Especially when I contract a very obnoxious illness just weeks before the release date.

4. I’m watching myself develop new traits, from learning the art of the diplomatic e-mail, to accurately budgeting time and money, to negotiating mutually beneficial agreements, to multitasking effectively, to making important decisions without dwelling or worrying. Some of these new skills go against my natural grain. But self-publishing a book that’s very close to my heart has given me the necessary push to face some fears and grow up a little more.

5. On December 2nd, I plan to be viewing my published book on Amazon.com. With a traditional publisher, my five-years-in-the-making manuscript could have waited an additional year or more to see the light of day. Publishing a book in seven weeks is definitely not something I recommend trying at home or plan on repeating, but with self-publishing, it can be done. All the concentrated labor and anguish will be over very soon, and it will be worth it to hold that sweet, 6×9 rectangle of paper and fresh ink in my hands. 

Cover preview 3
Credit: Amalia Hillmann

The Illuminator’s Gift will be available on Amazon.com December 2nd! In the meanwhile, I’d be delighted to have you sign up for my e-mail newsletter, like my Facebook page, or follow on Twitter using the buttons in the right sidebar 🙂

Turning the Page

Well, good morning, 2013. I’ve been underground for a while. Nice to see you.

Time to get a new year of blogging up and running with a post about New Year’s Resolutions. Someone told me recently that they don’t bother with resolutions at New Year’s–if they see a need for change in their life, they’ll get on with changing it immediately. I respect that, and I don’t hold much stock in resolutions either, but last year I talked a bit about my philosophy about resolutions vs. goals. I do like the opportunity afforded by a new year to turn a page in life. If 2012 beat down your idealism and best efforts and dragged you through the mud, it’s okay. Wipe the slate clean. Cancel the debts. Start fresh. Tomorrow is another day.

I like to start by glancing over my shoulder at last year’s goals. It’s a bit encouraging, a bit dismal, and a bit amusing to remind myself of what I set out to do in the last year:

1. Get to know God better by reading the Bible through in chronological order

Status: in process (forever). I made it about halfway through the Bible before this year’s hurricanes got in the way. I’m hoping to pick up the other half and finish it this year.

2. Have the second draft of my novel completed and be ready to start looking at literary agents by June

Status: in process (hopefully not forever). The second (and third) drafts of my novel are done (yay!) but I’ve learned a lot about the process of publishing since last January. I decided to recruit a squad of test readers, primarily 9-14-year-olds, to read the manuscript and help me identify its weak spots. That process is now winding up, as the last few of these loyal secret agents send me their invaluable files of comments. Armed with these, I plan to troubleshoot the manuscript one last time and then apply to some literary agents. I’ve also learned more about the increasingly attractive and accessible process of self-publishing, which may be another possible route for my book.

3. Take a 2-month class on blogging and social media for authors

Status: done! One down! I learned so much from this class, taught by Kristin Lamb. We may not agree on every issue, but it definitely got me thinking about writing as a business, kicked me into gear on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google+ (yipes!), and most importantly, got me connected with a network of other writers who are working toward the same goals.

4. Buy a car

Status: also done! My sweet silver ride still makes me smile. Ever since we met back in July, it’s been love for Baby and me 🙂 Incidentally, I’ve also learned how to check PSI, buy a pair of windshield wipers, and refill wiper fluid in the engine (hint: you can use plain water :)).

5. Read Gone with the Wind, Othello, and The Kite Runner

Status: 2 out of 3. None of these are especially happy books, but The Kite Runner was just too intense for me by the time I thought about it in mid-August. Othello–forgive me, Shakespeare–was not my favorite play ever. The conflict felt contrived and the female lead was just downright wimpy. Othello wasn’t exactly a genius, either. I think the best role went to Iago’s wife, who told everybody what was what (before dying in the last scene, of course). Gone with the Wind was the best of the bunch–a soaring, operatic panorama in a style that reminded me of Les Miserables, but was much easier to read. The characters are fiery and unforgettable, and the portrait of the antebellum South was detailed and dramatic. A great book, if you’ve got time for a long one.

And now for some new goals. We’ll see how these fare in the year to come 🙂

1. Grow closer to God

2. See my novel accepted for publication or self-published

3. Work up to a monthly income I can live on

4. Learn the craft of bookbinding. Okay. How cool would THAT be??

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What are your goals for 2013?