Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Self-published: Moral Support

As I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to compile a list of things I wish I had known before I self-published for the benefit of those who are considering it and even for those who will choose the traditional route. What started as a list has turned into a four-part series in which I will discuss social media, finances, moral support and resources. On Monday, I started this series with a post on social media. Let’s move on to moral support – not your family or friends, but other writers like you.

Where I Started

I love music and I read a lot of band interviews when I was younger. One strategy many bands used to get discovered was to make a demo and send it to agents and recording companies. They also sent it to radio stations and sold it to local fans at their shows. It was a way of raising money and creating a fan base.

As I sat alone at my computer working on Masks, I decided this would be my strategy. So, I went ahead and self-published. Only later did I discover that agents and publishers think “self-publishing is cheating,” as one agent said in a magazine interview. Funny thing about her point of view is that self-publishing is becoming so lucrative and so popular that some best-selling authors are foregoing the traditional contracts and hitting the upload button.

When I was getting close to publishing Masks the first time around, I was old enough and smart enough to know that the book wouldn’t sell itself. I went online to find some guidance and discovered an endless list of networking possibilities. Where to start became the question.

What You Need To Do To Keep Up Your Morale

Writing is a lonely business. It’s important to:

  • surround yourself with other writers
  • learn your craft
  • learn from successful authors
  • make some sales

Where To Find Moral Support

Join local authors’ associations

  • Get yourself some business cards because no one will write your name and phone number down. If you join a general writers’ association like Canadian Authors Association, there will be all types of writers there from the unpublished journal-er to the screen writer. This is a great opportunity to network, support other writers and find support as well.
  • The association  will most likely host meetings with guest speakers from the publishing world so you can learn from the pros (They were you once).
  • If your writing is of a specific genre, then also join an association for that type of genre.
  • Bonus: once you’re published, your fellow members will support your efforts through sales.
  • Writers’ associations also publish newsletter. You can find out about launches and readings, courses, conferences, writing contests, book fairs, and so much more. Attend a launch party, so you know what to do when it’s your turn. Go to a reading and support your fellow authors. Take a course and learn something. Attend a conference and learn a few things. Enter a writing contest; maybe you’ll win and get published (it helps to create that fan base). Volunteer for a book fair. It will give you a different perspective than just being an attendee.

Learn how to write

I am struggling with this one myself. I would love to take some writing classes right now, but time and money are my obstacles. I have come to realize how important my writer’s education is. I know that if I understood novels in a technical sense then I would be a better and faster writer. I have settled for buying some books. Still, your writers’ association, like Writers and Editors Network, might offer some free workshops hosted by a fellow member. Why not go for it? The better a writer you become, the more confident you will be, the less reassurance and approval you will need. Self-doubt isn’t going to help you get that book published.

Learn from successful people

  • Reading about successful authors can be encouraging when you learn that many authors did not become best-sellers over night. The important lessons to learn from them is how did they keep up their morale and how did they finally succeed.
  • You can learn so much about writing, publishing and marketing from the right blogs. Here are two blogs I follow: There Are No Rules and Kristen Lamb’s Blog. (By the way, leaving intelligent comments on blogs can get you attention from readers and therefore more blog readers for your own blog. Again, fan base!)
  • Find industry publications you like and read them regularly. I really like Writer’s Digest but there are so many available online. Again learn about writing, about your genre, and about the industry! The more you know when you are ready to publish, the easier it will be because you will know what you are after, how to do it, and where to find it. Ultimately, you will optimize your time and make fewer mistakes.

Sell your work

Sales would be great but if you haven’t published yet, that’s not going to work. When you make some sales, you’ll get a little external validation buzz going on inside. To sell your work, you need to know where the fans are, what they want and how they want it. The answers are all within your moral support group. All you have to do is slowly develop it.

I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

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  1. #1 by Learning to drive in Ireland on July 23, 2014 - 5:43 PM

    I’m curious how creative writing instructors at colleges and universities handle students who write about really disturbing things and who seem potentially dangerous to themselves and others? Are instructors privy to students’ mental health records? Do they let such students get away with violent or disturbing writing in an effort NOT to stir too much trouble? Do you become proactive in trying to help these students? Do you undergo training to deal with problem students? As a creative writing student at a university, I often see disturbing stuff brought into workshops. I’m wondering what the profs think of all this. Thanks to any answers!.

  2. #2 by Patricia Sands on April 25, 2011 - 9:58 AM

    Thanks for all the important information you are sharing in these posts!

  1. A Sense of Belonging « Masks' Blog
  2. Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Self-published: Finances « Masks' Blog
  3. Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Self-Published: Contacts « Masks' Blog
  4. 8 Tips From A Successful Author « Masks' Blog

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