Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On the Flat Ocean

I'm past the tran- sition. I've gone though the wilder- ness of crea- tionism. Yes, the book is out, pub- lished and at the distributors. I've made it through and there is nothing but flat glass ocean before my sailing ship and the curve of the horizon with no land in sight. My compass is spinning, the wind is brisk and the sails are full of wind. And yet, I am not done. I don't feel at this point that I will ever be done. There will never be an end to this journey. It's a trip across the ocean that has no landfall. Ever.

The transition. I covered it briefly earlier. The second third of my three fold plan. I'll go into it a little here. Once the book is finished, it has to be polished and cut, like a rare diamond, it needs to be clarified and changed before it can go out to the public. That's why you need a good editor. An editor that you can trust and that will be fair and yet clear with your book. Someone who polishes your writing and can make unclouded what you want to say to your readers. Where you are muddy, the editor can make crystal. You cannot do this yourself, no matter how good a writer you feel that you are. You can imagine yourself as a (and you can just as well be) a professor of English and a student of the written word, you are still too close to your manuscript. You are in effect performing surgery on your own baby, and I know you can tell, that's not a good idea. Much worse, it's performing surgery on yourself which is more tantamount and even worse.

Let another professional go over your work. Let them take out your errors that you don't feel are errors. Let them shed new light on your prose and gain the benefit of having a second pair of eyes go over your work. You will do fine if you allow the clarifying of your gem to be done. But this is not the only professional that you will need. There are more. There is a proofreader that is needed, to make it even more perfect, to root out all the typographical errors, and then a beta reader, if you can. A beta reader will look at the story and find errors in its construction, locate weak plot-lines, check continuity and do some fact checking. Also they will outline the plot, find themes and archetypes and point out where things work or do not. A beta reader is invaluable if you want to give your readers something different and are willing to take criticism from a stranger that is looking over your story as one of your readers would.

Then you have to go to a formatter and a book cover designer. Two people that are invaluable to the process. A formatter will take your manuscript and find the proper font, spacing, header, footer and the so forth. They move the work to publication. A good formatter is important. Then a cover designer is vital, because they make or break your book. A reader only looks at your book cover for a second or two; very briefly, and then it's over. If your book cover does not grab them by the throat and make them stop to check out your book, you have wasted all of your time in putting together your manuscript. Traditional publishers have scores of professional cover designers that sit down and work out the most striking cover for your book. You need to do the same. Maybe not find scores of designers, but find a good one and help them help you to make the best cover you can afford.

You have to take the time to find the best that work for you and your price range. Once you get through this field, once you've gone through this task, you will have an e-book and a file to upload to the distributors. From the distributors you go onto the third/third of the project. The part of the project that will last for years and years, which is marketing.

Marketing will take forever, and is multifaceted. It's on the other side of the transition and is the only one of the three that is without end. It will go on as long as you want it to, and you'll never want to stop once you get started. It'll flag, it'll wane, just like wind in the sails of a ship, but it will also pick up and billow, snapping your sails loudly and forcibly. When you tire, it will continue, and when you continue, it will tire. Marketing is one aspect of being a writer that will never go away. Unless you get a large multinational traditional publisher to fund your novel and they'll take over the marketing beast for you, they will also take the lion's share of your income that it makes. But here, if you are the master of your own destiny, the captain of your own ship, you will reap untold benefits if you do it yourself. It is what it is.

How do I know this? How do I know this when I've never done it before? I've listened to other writers, other self published authors that have done this on their own. They pushed their books and watched as the number of book sales rose. They cultivate their sales like a farmer would a field of wheat or corn. That is the great thing about working your own marketing plan is that you can watch it grow from nothing to something over the span of time and effort that you put into it.

I am doing my marketing plan now. I have book blog tours, did Goodreads and Facebook campaigns, have done a show on BlogTalkRadio, I have put out press releases and given my book to book reviewers. I've caused a big enough splash for the months of June and July and I will eagerly watch my book sales. They will either go up or don't move at all, but I suspect that they will rise somewhat. As the book gains more and more eyes it will find it's fans. I don't doubt that. It will find those who want to read it and will take the time to do just that. The book will find them and they will find the book. You have to convince yourself of that fact. You will find your fans and they will find you.

Much of it has to do with belief. You must believe that you will, through your writing, touch the souls of others. You will find your fans and they will find you. It may take months, it may take years. But they are out there, and it will only be a matter of time.

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