Today’s post is a guest post for contemporary romance “Entangle” by Veronica Larsen. I hope you enjoy the guest post, and if you have time, please check out the book.
Seven Things I’ve learned From Self-Publishing For The First Time
By Veronica Larsen, author of contemporary romance novel Entangle
It’s been a life long goal of mine to write a novel. When I first embarked on the task, I was just a kid and I thought it would be simple: take the idea, put it to words, write ‘the end,’ and…done!
The reality of writing a novel, of course, is neither simple nor is it a linear process. At least not for me. As it turns out, finishing a novel was just the beginning of the battle. The self-publishing process is intimidating all on it’s own. Here is what I’ve learned through all of this, so far.
- Finishing A Novel Takes Persistence
I spent most of my life trying to finish a novel and each time I came up short. It wasn’t for lack of ideas, lack of desire, or even lack of time.
Each time a novel idea came to me things went like this:
- Surge of inspiration
- Writing binge
III. Dwindling inspiration
- Self doubt
- Setting project aside “for later.”
- Next surge of inspiration—for a different story.
And..repeat. The result was countless of unfinished stories and a growing disappointment in myself for not achieving what should have been a simple task. Write the beginning. Write the middle. Write the end.
Why couldn’t I finish a damn novel? The reason, I think, is that I underestimated the lows and over estimated the highs of the creative process.
Looking back at it now, I realize my biggest mistake was allowing myself to become discouraged when things got hard. The truth is, inspiration will dwindle. Self doubt will set in. It’s a part of the process. It’s the wall I’ve got to push past to reach my second wind. A finished novel, as it turns out, is right on the other side of that wall.
This is what it took before I could finally finish a novel: I turned off my inner critic/editor and I wrote. Every single day. I wrote when I didn’t feel like writing. I wrote even when I doubted everything I’d written. I just wrote. Period.
Then, one day, I typed ‘then end.’ Just like that, in a matter of months, I finished a novel I’d spent years merely trying to write. Finishing it felt like conquering an inner enemy.
Something shifted in me. Writing a novel was suddenly something that was possible for me. I knew I could do it because I’d already done it. So I went on and did it again. The second novel I wrote is called Entangle. It’s set to be my debut novel, releasing on December 1st.
- The Road To Self Publishing Is Daunting But Everyone Starts At The Same Place
Self-publishing has been a ride, not too different from the process of writing a first novel. It starts with a surge of motivation (I’m doing this!), quickly trampled by the overwhelming realization of the task at hand (Can I really do this?). I’ve learned that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The internet is an amazing resource of information. Use it. Just make sure you weigh the advice, because there is a lot of contradicting views out there.
- Letting Go of Your Novel Is Hard
I did not anticipate how hard it would be to set the novel down and say, “I’m done. I did everything I could for this story. I need to set it down and put it out to the world.”
Entangle feels like an ex-boyfriend I’m trying to get over. I don’t want to think about it any more. I want it out of my head, but I’m reminded of the story in some way throughout the day. It’s not a fuzzy feeling, either. It’s an uncomfortable squirming in my stomach, a whisper of self-doubt behind my ear.
“Maybe I can tweak it. Maybe I can move this. Maybe I can change that.”
I told a friend this and her response was simply; “Do you really want to change it?”
The truth is no. In my gut, I know the story is what I intended it to be. It’s a sexy, angsty, character driven lust-to-love story. Is it perfect? No way. I don’t think a story can be. Besides, fixating on perfection will only truncate my growth as a writer. All I can do is move on to write other things and become a better through time and, most importantly, experience.
This is easier said than done, of course. When you are self-publishing, no one takes your novel away from you. No one tells says: “No, you can’t make any more changes.”
So, I’ll admit, I have fallen into temptation and tweaked the novel long after I claimed it was done. Do I feel better about it? Is it perfect now? Of course not. Tweaking it did nothing but scratch an itch of self-doubt that moved elsewhere. I know from experience I can spend years tweaking a novel (as I did with my first novel—which, despite my endless tweaking, is still not ready for the world). Hopefully next time I can remember this: Do your absolute best. Take every aspect of the process seriously. Create a professional product then cut the cord.
Time of death: whatever your deadline is.
That’s it. Walk away. Move on.
- Marketing Feels Harder Than It Is (Just as this title feels dirtier than it is.)
Marketing a book, I’ve learned, is simply about making people aware that your book exists. It’s not about convincing people to buy it. People will make up their own minds about it. All you can do is present your novel’s existence in an entertaining, engaging and non-spammy way. Graphic teasers, for instance, give people scrolling through social media an interesting picture/quote to look at. Entertainment for them, exposure for you. Win-win.
- Make Friends In Self-Publishing
Have someone to talk to that can relate to your ramblings about the writing process and self-publishing. I don’t know what else to say, except for this: having fellow indie-author friends has been invaluable not just for my creative spirit but also for my sanity.
- Don’t Rush Publication
You finish your novel. It’s edited, formatted, and the cover is ready. Naturally, you want it published yesterday. Right? I know the feeling. I think it’s the part in us that’s afraid if we don’t publish ASAP we never will. We will chicken-out, hide the novel under the bed and pretend it doesn’t exist.
The only reason I didn’t fall into the temptation of rushing the publication of Entangle is I wanted to promote it before release, through a blog tour. This forced me to have the novel publish-ready two months before my release date. That’s weeks and weeks of having this finished novel on my lap. It’s been torture.
On the other hand, I’m glad I deferred publication. I was able to get reviews on advanced reader copies, run giveaways and generate awareness of my novel’s existence (which is all you can hope for as a first time author). I could’ve done all of this post-release, but I imagine it’s harder to build momentum after the fact.
The other reason I’m glad I gave myself months between finishing the novel and actually publishing is that I’ve allowed myself a head start on future projects.
The way I see it; the clock starts ticking towards your next publication date the moment you publish a novel (that’s assuming you’re looking to make a long term career out of this). If you wait too long to put out your second book, readers may forget you and any promotional efforts you made the first time around will have been in vain.
This did not occur to me until after I signed up for the blog tour. If I could do things differently, I’d wait until I had two completed romance novels at minimum before even publishing one. Doing so would allow me a lot more time to spend on each future project while still keeping a steady pace of new releases.
- Have a realistic measure of success
Next to no one gets rich writing novels. Being a self-published author isn’t a lucrative business venture. Writing a novel is time consuming, publishing a novel is costly, and there is no guarantee of return of investment. Most Indies are lucky to break even on the money they spend getting their book to the public. It takes many, many published novels before an indie-author can start to see any significant monetary return on their time and work.
To me, this fact isn’t discouraging simply because my measure of success isn’t monetary. My measurement is longevity. What I mean is, I want to build a reputation for publishing consistently good novels. I want to have many novels out, each improving upon the last. My hope is to gain faithful readers as I go and deliver to their expectations.
This is what I’ve learned so far. How many more lessons are there to come? A crap ton, I’m sure. This is the beginning of a long, winding path.
I’d love to hear your story. If you’re an indie-author, leave a comment below and tell me about your self-publishing journey so far. How did you prepare for the release of your first novel? Do you have any tips for me in the days to come?
If you’re a reader, I’m curious to know if your opinion of a book is affected by the knowledge that the author is self-published
About The Book
Author: Veronica Larsen
Genre: Romance (Adult, Contemporary)
Happily ever after? It doesn’t exist.
I wore the big white dress and rode off with Prince Charming. Then Charming changed his mind.
These days, I don’t put my heart in anyone’s hands because I don’t even know where I’ve left it.
So when a ruggedly handsome, blue-eyed man stirs my desires awake for the first time in years, I tell myself it’s a one-time thing.
And now? I’m hooked. Nothing could prepare me for Leo. He weaves simple, deliberate movements into pure, gilded pleasure. Like a sensual alchemist.
I’m so blinded by lust I barely notice the gaping hole opening underneath me, the one that’s sure to swallow me down. Because every time I’ve dared to get close to someone, they’ve cracked me wide open.
Why should this time be any different?
Facebook: Veronica Larsen