SYWTBAW X: Go Your Own Way

While there’s a whole segment of the getting your book out there story that I can’t give you a whole lot of insight into (as in: landing an agent and getting a publisher the good old-fashioned way), the reality for most of us is that after writing a book, we’re going to end up publishing it ourselves. That’s not to say there’s no chance you’ll ever find an agent/publisher. I have several friends whom I came up with in the writing world, back when we were still trying to figure out how to get the words on the page to do the things we wanted them to do, who have found themselves on the more traditional side of the publishing industry.

However, many/most of them have found themselves transitioning over to a self-publishing model over time, simply so they can control their stories and their own creative processes better. Which means, even if you find some success within the realm of traditional publishing, there’s a very high likelihood you’ll still wind up becoming your own publishing house.

Now, I’m not going to go into too much detail regarding how to publish your own books. At least not right now. If you’re looking for some advice on self-publishing now, however, I’m always willing to lend an ear and some info. You can send me an email at and I’ll give you all of the advice I have which can help you, too, become an author who once had his own Google sidebar…which is my greatest claim to fame as an author, I guess…

So, for most of us, the sheer insurmountable process of trying to get published through traditional means becomes something we simply don’t see as being worth our time (or maybe we’ve determined that we simply can’t figure out how to crack the code to get in). For myself, I spent some time reaching out to publishing houses and agents and found that I was spending a ton of time doing that, and not nearly enough time writing.

While I say this, I want to be open and note that I still send things out to agents. My most recently completed book, Moonshine Monarchy, is still technically on submission. I 100% believe in there being a positive side to partnering with the professionals in getting your book in the hands of readers. I long to be able to go that route, in fact, feeling that the path of self-publishing can be a rather lonely one, even if you have (as I suggest you find) a group of other authors to partner up with and work together on promoting each other.

But, I’m also, from time to time, a rather impatient man. And especially when I was first writing my books, I wanted them out there more than I wanted to spend my days trying to market myself to agents and publishers.

But there’s a pretty huge downside to self-publishing, especially if you’re hoping to avoid the whole attempting to sell yourself aspect of going the traditional route: you still have to sell yourself. Or, more particularly your book(s). If you want to get readers, you have to make sure people know your books even exist, and you have to give them reasons to want to read your books. You can’t just hit the PUBLISH button and expect the sales to start rolling in. You have to do something to make sure people know that book is even available.

There are approximately 3,000 new books published daily in the United States. DAILY. That means that you are literally one in three thousand on your book release day. Day two, you’re in a pile of 6,000 books that have been newly released to the wild since you hit that publish button . There’s simply no way for readers to even know your book exists if you don’t tell them about it.

I absolutely love the concept of self-publishing. In an industry that has long had a huge gatekeeping process for new artists to even get their art seen, we now have a world where literally anyone can get a book out into the world. This is the realm that musicians and visual artists have been for forever. Anybody, with absolutely zero platform, can get their art printed and bound into book form, or published onto a digital marketplace as an eBook, making it actually possible for authors to be seen, even if they couldn’t get a publisher to back them.

My 13-year-old has classmates who have books available on Amazon. Self-publishing has truly opened the world of writing for anyone and everyone.

But that also means there’s a ton more work to be done. Just like a musician can’t simply write a song and record it and put it on a CD, expecting the sales to come, self-published authors (as well as traditionally published ones, obviously, although in a different manner to some extent) have to market themselves. And with the fact that literally anyone can release a book, that also means that readers are now more discerning about what they are going to read. Because, let’s face it, not all books are good. Even when looking at books that have been traditionally published, there are certainly books that are far better than others. But when you look at self-published books, authors can get anything published. It could be riddled with spelling and grammatical mistakes, or, just plain boring rubbish.

And as a self-published author, you’re lumped in with all other self-published authors, just like a traditionally published author is lumped in with the other authors published by the same publisher.

So, you have to hustle. And there are so many resources out there for what you can do to help bring your book to the top of the pile. To help people be aware of what you’ve done. To help people actually be aware that the art you created exists.

But you have to do it. At least if you want anyone to read what you’ve written outside of, maybe, your mom and dad.

Back when I was first publishing my books, I spent time daily, sometimes hours daily, making sure to do some promotion for my books. And it paid off. I was exceeding my sales goals, I had an official Google listing when you would search for my name, I had sales all across the globe. People I didn’t know were reviewing my books within days of them coming out.

But the second I got too busy to keep that up, it all stopped. Keeping that momentum up is hard. It takes a ton of work. And you have to be willing to truly hustle, because when you decide to self-publish, you really and truly are doing it all on your own. And if you’re not, you’re paying someone a fair amount of money to do it for you.

It can pay off, but you have to be ready to make that your focus.

Or, just work on the next book, and enjoy knowing that there are still a few people who have found you, regardless of how much money you’re making off your art. Self-satisfaction is a great part of self-publishing, after all.

And with this, I’m ending this series. There’s a ton more I could probably talk about, and I’ll probably dig into this self-publishing aspect a little bit more, but the reality is, this is the process I went through with my first book. This ten step program of ultimately giving up on my dreams of billions of book dollars simply so I could enjoy the creative part of it.

Because, let’s face it, that’s the reason any of us create anything, right? Because the act of creation is purely amazing.


Published by Adam Oster, Adventure Novelist

Husband, Father, Creator/Destroyer of Worlds

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