In the little over a week since I clicked publish on my book, I have learned a lot about being in the indie author community and the overall environment around publishing a book on your own. Or at least, the pieces I have seen or attempted to interact with. Some of those lessons aren’t even things I’ve really learned, but rather things I already knew and got pretty emphatically confirmed.
The most prominent lesson, one of those I kind of already knew, but has been driven home quite forcefully… I am a raging introvert and I do not do well when forced to try to really interact with people, especially when trying to insert myself into groups or situations that I’m new to. It brings up all those ugly feelings of being a bother and a pest and that does not mix well with needing to actually be out there promoting yourself. I’m mostly comfortable here on my blog because the space is mine. Go outside of this space and one or two others and things get grossly uncomfortable.
I dislike twitter with a passion. Several years ago, I walked away from a lot of my online homes because of drama and BS that just caused an inordinate amount of totally unnecessary stress. Being on twitter has reminded me of many of the reasons I made that decision even though I’d never used it before. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of other benefits to twitter. I have picked up information there that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. But it is just way too easy for people to say/post all kinds of garbage that causes all kinds of drama and ugliness. None of it surrounding me, but being on there, I still have to witness it. I’ve tried to eliminate as much of it as I can by being selective on who I follow, but that also kind of defeats the purpose of that platform. I don’t know what I’ll do about it going forward. I’ll have to wait and see on that one.
The indie community is huge. It is massively diverse. And it kind of reminds me of high school with all its cliques. I will give this a massive caveat that I’ve only really seen the twitter side of this as I haven’t dug too deeply into it yet, so that statement is probably heavily biased. I also know that it is a very preliminary observation. What I’ve seen is a lot of “we help each other out” but that only applies if you are in the clique or jump through a thousand hoops like some medieval hero on an impossible quest. Given that observation and the “raging introvert” fact, the feeling of oil and water comes to mind.
Attempting to promote a book is like having a full time job. Quite possibly, with a part time job on the side. It is a lot of work. This isn’t something that comes as a shock. I knew this going in. It is still a bit daunting to actually experience it. It is also something that strains patience to nearly the breaking point. I have to keep reminding myself that not only is this not a sprint, it isn’t even a marathon. It is more along the lines of a long term exercise plan that is a requirement for maintaining good health.
I have learned that my artistic side wants to scream in offense sometimes. Loudly. Then I remind myself that beauty and art are in the eye of the beholder and… walking away with my mouth firmly shut (or hands off the keyboard) is the best course of action. No one asked for my opinion.
Having a large network of people behind you sets you far ahead of the crowd. Being that raging introvert with a quiet little handful makes all of that work about a thousand times more difficult. There are little to no resources for indie authors and self-publishers once your book is out there. The same goes for those that want to support that community by reading those authors. From what I’ve been able to find, there isn’t any way to find gathered, curated sources that make it easy to find those authors and their books. I even doubled checked to see if Amazon had some way to break out those books, but it doesn’t exist. It is even harder to find a book by an indie author in a genre you are interested in, especially a smaller, less popular/trendy one. If there is something out there that is just for indie authors in a similar vein to something like Goodreads, I have yet to find it.
All of the above makes it incredibly easy to get discouraged, because it is so insanely hard. Again, I knew it would be going in. Some days have been pretty awesome, though. I will keep reminding myself of those days and the fact that it only took me a week to reach a couple of my goals. This is not a hobby or a job for the lazy or the easily discouraged. So… deep breaths… keep moving forward.