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Self-Publishing and the Many Hats

This is probably the least original post idea there is for a self-publisher, and I’m sure if I googled “self-publishing hats” I’d be inundated by articles just like this one will turn out to be. But if the shoe fits, wear it, which means I’ll be throwing my hat in the ring to both mix and abuse some more metaphors.

I decided to write this post because I was suffering from a bit of the blogging block at trying to figure out what to write about this week. I have my usual blogging topics: Bugbear BBQ, Screenplay Techniques, Odes, and the return of Payday Stories, but none of them were really tickling my fancy. And, as any self-publishing guru will tell you, you need a blog for potential readers to get to know you if they happen to stumble across you online.

And there be the rub: You need to be doing all sorts of stuff to supplement your online presence if you’re a self-published author. But that’s just the forward-facing additional author tasks people can actually see and doesn’t take into account all the major iceberg of tasks waiting beneath the water.

Case in point, before writing this blog this evening, I was:

  1. Hunting down keywords for more popular authors to build an ad

  2. Coming up with copy for two ads

  3. Putting up those ads

  4. Interacting with book bloggers/ influencers to gear up for the release of my third book in two months

  5. Prodding my cover artist for my damn book cover

  6. Facilitating a review copy for one of my guild mates

  7. Would have been a guest voice on a podcast had it not been rescheduled

  8. Wracking my brain for what I could possibly blog about

A little over two years ago before my first book came out, I didn’t have a social media presence at all. Today I used the following: Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Reddit, Goodreads as well as a few forums. I followed exactly zero fantasy blogs, but today have 10 on my RSS feed alone (something else I didn’t have two years ago), which is in addition to the ones I follow on FB/ Twitter. I have designed and put together two websites, which I update regularly, and which automatically update based on data gleaned from Google forms. And a newsletter now that I think about it. Two years ago I didn’t even have a Facebook account, let alone know the first thing about running an A/B test ad targeted by age and country.

And now that I type all that out and look at it, it seems a lot. But the thing is, I kind of love it. Sure, it would be a lot nicer if I could do all this ancillary stuff during the day and write at night, but all this is fun and breaks up the lonely act of sitting in a dark room and typing out your thoughts. This is the cool stuff where you get to interact with other fantasy fans and authors.

The ads are significantly less cool but equally necessary. So I hear at least. I’ve also heard it’s not financially feasible to run ads until you have three books out, which means I’m finally putting some actual effort into this, but I’m digressing.

That was the long way of saying there’s a lot of things I never thought I’d have to do when I sat down and decided to publish my first novel. And, if you had told me that two years in I’d being all this extra crap, I’d probably never would have hit the upload button. But like the frog in water slowly being brought up to boiling, each of these tasks came on one at a time until I didn’t even realize I was doing them all.

No, there’s no real point to this post. No real insight except that if you go self-published be prepared to do a lot of extra work. And as much as this extra work is daunting and probably drives aspiring authors into the arms of traditional publishers with the mistaken notion that all this will be taken care of by someone else and they can just keep their heads down and write, it’s totally worth it in my mind.

Because a man can never have too many hats.

And because I couldn’t think of a pithy way to end this thing…

And as to the pic, I was googling "dinosaur mammal war" for some reason for an image before I got to drinking and forgot why I needed that pic (link to the artist to made it if you click the image). Perhaps because the dino is wearing a hat? Either way, I might need to own that for my wall...

Author Image.jpg

MD Presley is a screenwriter, blogger and occasional novelist… which basically means he’s a layabout.  He has written two books on fantasy worldbuilding, and teaches worldbuilding techniques, tricks, and tips at Forging Fantasy Realms once a week on YouTube. 

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