Where do I begin?
Perhaps I should start with my goal ten years ago. I always enjoyed writing and reading my own stories when I was younger. For me, it seemed I was recording my thoughts and my imaginations, and these fictitious characters in my head. I hoped people would read what I wrote, but I didn’t have the courage back then. I didn’t think I wanted to be so open to the world; I am afraid people would laugh at it, judged my works and say it is not good enough. I kept it as a secret, and so notebooks filled with my stories written over the summer were only read by my younger sister, and then they would all be stashed away, hidden where no one else could find them. I wrote love stories and witch stuff, some poems or things that happened to me every day. There were so many thoughts in my head and writing them down was therapeutic. I later found out that, should I invest more time polishing my stories and essays, I actually can let the world to read it, and I won’t feel that alone anymore. Until today, I believe that sharing my stories helped me a lot to be a better person by boosting my confidence, helping me to articulate my thoughts, having a stand and making friends.
When I started publishing my works online, there were no rules to follow, and I didn’t know whether I was doing the right thing the right way. We got a page with a thousand readers who sent us feedbacks. We all tried submitting our manuscripts to publishing companies, but they were rejected, so we gave that up. Besides, we don’t want to be tied to a contract where we basically sell the rights of our work of art. We decided to publish our book. No one else in our radar had done it, so there was no one to ask. We did everything ourselves. What do we need to produce this book and make it a hit? Making it a hit means people will talk about it and buy it. That was a big question mark, and you can say, we tried all different ways, all possible channels. It worked. We sold more or less 300 copies in 3 months. Earning from what you have written is a good sign. It means people read your work; they are interested in you and stories. Therefore there is a higher chance of them buying your next book. Your imagination now has a VALUE, people think your stories and what you have to say are worth their time and money.
The rest is history, but the lessons we learned remains. Nowadays, a lot of author friends who have existing readership had struggled to sell even ten copies. Writers thought if they keep on writing and announcing it on social media, they would eventually turn it into sales. They failed taking other essential steps to make their book successful. Here are two of the most overlooked steps in indie-publishing.
1. Stephen Kings wrote in his memoir entitled On Writing, that once he finished a manuscript, he would show it to his wife and ask for her comments. Her wife is one of his most trusted person in the world, and whose comments he valued a lot. He would listen to her comments and criticisms and discuss the changes he would do. Having another set of eyes to read your work without bias is a big help. These people can spot mistakes and inconsistencies you may have missed. He also mentioned letting the manuscript sit for a while, let it breathe for a few months, then read it again, this time with a fresh perception where he can spot his errors. If you do not have the time, there is always the option of getting an editor. An editor is who you paid to review and edit your manuscript.
2. This is marketing your book even if your MS isn’t finished yet. You can talk about your characters, and the settings, and what makes them special yet relatable. You can also post about the creative process you are going through and why people should be excited about the finished product like you do. You create hashtags so people can search for it easily. Create attractive graphics and videos relevant to your book. Though try not to do it every day, again to give space and to make your art breathe and have people digest so they will not be drowned with so much information. Post enough that can create anticipation, so when your book officially comes out, readers who have been invested in the free content you were sharing, they would want to buy the finished product.
Step 1 & 2 already sounds a lot of work, and actually, there are more things you need to do, that you need to be physically, emotionally and financially ready for this BIG PROJECT. You need all the guts in you in this journey of getting your book out there. Yes, it is worth it and truly rewarding.
If you are interested in the process of indie publishing in the Philippines, we have an event on April 2 in Diligence Cafe, Manila where we invited speakers who managed to get their indie published books into bookstores. You can sign up here: https://goo.gl/gHTa8z
That will be all from me for now. If you have any questions about indie publishing, feel free to comment below and I will be happy to help. Until next time! 🙂