That's a snap of one of the inspirational pictures, quotes, drawings and other bits that I have hanging around my desk to keep me going when I want to say, it's too hard, maybe no one wants to read my stories, maybe I'm fooling myself, maybe my stories are just ... not that good. The route of the self-published author is paved with self-doubt. We don't put the self-doubt into our tweets ("5* on Amazon!") or our FB posts ("Check out this great review from BestReviewerEver...") or on our Goodreads bios ("[Author name] loves to write stories that inspire...."). But it's there, nagging us, giving us sticky feet and toes, whispering in our ear that it's all for naught.
But I'm here to tell you, it's real, it's a thing, and it can affect your writing in the most fundamentally negative way: by sucking the joy out of the thing you love the most--telling stories.
I have my first novel out (woohoo!), it has received uniformly positive reviews from readers (WOOHOO!), and now that I'm writing the sequel, I find myself facing deeper self-doubt than when I wrote the first book.
So I hired a professional support network.
That's not what they call themselves, but it's what I call them. They cheer me on, navigate the ever-shifting world of self-publishing, keep me up-to-date with the current sales platforms, make my book gorgeous, and cheer me on some more.
I didn't get into this business to become a whiz at social networking. I'm not now and never will be a master of marketing. I can bang out the formatting and layout requirements to a manuscript with the best, but I can't make it look like the pro's do. I'm a writer. I tell stories. I spend hours and hours on the research, and then it has to soak for a bit while the story starts to take shape, and then I research some more and start to write. After that, I need to hand it over to the professionals.
I felt bad--really bad--about hiring my support network. And then it occurred to me that this is exactly what the pro's do. Publishing houses put a real investment into their books. Some make it big, some barely make a ripple, and that's just the nature of the business. Why had I had it in my head that I should be able to achieve success while literally nickle and dime-ing myself? I read posts on the author networks and blogs bragging about not spending any up-front funds on getting their books published, and I think, why is that a great thing? Are they really achieving the success they want? Is that what they figure their book--their future career as a writer--is worth?
I read an article recently (got to run pick-up the kids but I'll post a link to it in an update) saying that the days of self-pubbed authors being able to just show up without a marketing plan and a professional team of helpers are over. I believe it. I have learned a lot going through this process with my support team, but I'll be honest: part of what I've learned is the power of choosing to respect myself and my work as a professional. Of course the self-doubt is still nagging me, sometimes even more insistently now that I have real "skin" in the game, but didn't I already? And isn't my future worth giving the best shot I can? Good lord, what did I invest in graduate school in my first career before it began to pay off?
So, here goes, stronger than ever, and yes, the sequel is on its way. Success is a twisty twisty road, but I'm hanging on.