I encourage YOU to write, but even more importantly, to publish.

thumbs-up-198886_640From my perspective most things in life require; desire, commitment, education, training, and practice. Publishing and becoming a best-selling published author, although related, are at two ends of the spectrum. I tell anyone looking to become a published author: don’t expect to make money at it. You do it because you want to show off your creation, much like showing your baby’s picture. Writing is a lot of work and takes time and effort. However, the hardest part of the process is no longer publishing. Publishing is much simpler, more streamlined and less costly than it used to be. Today, thanks to the tools available, anyone can do it, and it can cost as little as nothing.

Since publishing my first novel over three years ago, I often get to talk to people about writing. What I have noticed is that most of those conversations quickly turn to their own desire to write. Some friends express wanting to write something about being a grandparent, some military contacts want to compile their journals, and others are kicking around stories or even novels in their heads, some of them for years. Whatever the scenario, it can be done, and YOU can do it.

I know I share a goal with many other authors to help writers become published authors. None of my contacts have progressed to the final stage yet, but several are actively working towards publication. It is a nice feeling realizing I know enough about the steps involved to help them in their journey. I’ve learned much in the last three years. However, I forget the people I am conversing with have little knowledge about the latest publication process.

Their knowledge resembles my own knowledge of the process back in 2000. I had written a manuscript and was told in order to get it published I needed an agent. Publishing houses dealt mostly with agents, who did the upfront screening process. So, I went through the query letter process trying to find an agent. In some states it might be called a Sink Hole. Most of us now know that painful and unrewarding route is no longer the required path to becoming a published author. But, for the most part it is still the general perception of what it takes to be published.

• If you want to be a published author, plan on self-publishing! Life is too short to waste time.

There are several tools available for publishing, but I’m more familiar with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and find it meets my needs quite well.

There is a saying “no pain, no gain.” I made another mistake in my publication quest, which I caution you not to make. My second attempt at getting published ten years later involved an internet search. I found an organization looking for new authors. I followed up with them, and to my surprise they were interested in reviewing my manuscript. After I sent it to them, they thought my writing had merit. They said if I would consent, they would send my information to a sister organization to see if they were interested in publishing it. I should not have been surprised that they also expressed a desire to indeed publish that manuscript.

What I didn’t know at the time was that this was a so called ‘vanity press.’ They published my book, but it took well over a year and cost almost $4,000 including editing.

• Do not fall for an organization that wants to publish your work for a fee. You do not need to spend that money. Check out this article on scams to save yourself.

Having six books all self-published, and a first draft of the seventh just completed, I have experience with self publishing. I should mention, I still had rights to that first published novel, and used those rights to self publish it. Of course, I had to discontinue the existing publisher’s rights. That has been like trying to kill a Great White Shark with a BB gun.

Since I do not spend much time on marketing, I can say this – the hardest part of self-publishing is what it should be…completing the actual source document. It takes far more time to complete writing the product, than publishing it. My peers would argue marketing is the hardest part of publishing, and maybe that is why I don’t spend much time on it.

These are some suggestions I would like to offer you –

  • Check out the Indies Unlimited site as it is a wealth of information and supports independent authors, or Indies.
  • If you want to try your hand at writing something, check out the weekly Flash Fiction competition on this site. It is free and a good opportunity to hone some skills.
  • Stop talking about it and just do it (write).
  • If you are thinking about writing a full length novel, rather than a short story, I recommend you get a copy of The Marshall Plan for NOVEL WRITING by Evan Marshall. It is sub-titled – A 16-step program guaranteed to take you from idea to completed manuscript.
  • Here is a great step-by-step guide for aspiring and newbie authors: I’ve Written a Book, How Do I Publish It

It took me over ten years to get my first book published, and it took persistence. I feel proud of what I have accomplished, and know I can keep adding to that inventory. Publishing is still evolving, but is definitely moving away from a gatekeeper industry. YOU now have efficient and available tools, and coupled with sites like Indies Unlimited there to educate you. If being a published author is on your bucket list, you can do it!

Author: Dick C. Waters

Dick C Waters is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the Scott Tucker mystery novels; Branded for Murder, Serial Separation, Scent of Gardenia and Fragrance of Revenge (soon to be published). For more information please see his Author Central Page

25 thoughts on “I encourage YOU to write, but even more importantly, to publish.”

  1. Great post, Dick. Just this weekend, I ran into a bunch of writers in a Facebook group who still think the best route to being published is the old way. Some of them even said it was because their publisher would handle the marketing for them. Oh haha.

    1. Thank Lynne. After all those earlier rejections, I was ripe for the picking when somebody expressed an interest to publish my novel. If this article prevents one person from making the same mistake, it will be my reward.

  2. Only $4000.00 to publish your first novel? You did better than I did. iUniverse took $5000.00 from me that I will never see again. And I got them much the same way you did. That was in 2009. It was a costly learning curve. Those companies are experts at conning the newbie. There are those that say we ought not be sucked in, that we ought to do our research and be able to tell if we are being scammed. You and I both know that is not the case. We did what we could and still got caught. Thanks for a great heads up and some valuable advice on how to get it right the first time.

    1. Thanks Yvonne.
      Would you believe just this past week I received an email from someone at that vanity press looking for me to submit my manuscript. They are still out there and fishing!

        1. I also got taken by iUnverse, but for much less. I am now considering taking all of my books back and publishing on Amazon. iUniverse isn’t reporting all my sales and takes a long time to pay royalties. Stay away from them!!!!!

          1. Sandra, I ran into some problems taking my book rights back and publishing with the same book name. You might want to consider publishing under different book names, and then stopping their further publication.
            Thanks for sharing.

          2. I asked them what I needed to do and they said to put it in writing since I hold all rights to my books. I guess I will find out. I want to just do one book at a time but may end up doing all of them.

          3. Sandra, if you put it in writing and then they don’t take it down, you can contact Amazon’s copyright infringement department and they will take it down for them. Amazon is dead serious about this kind of stuff.

  3. I am a firm believer in learning from other people’s experiences as well as my own. On behalf of the many who will know now to avoid paying for the vanity services, thank you.

    The money may be lost but at least it will help others learn before they make the same mistake.

  4. Good, concise post, Dick. We can hope that those of us who have fallen into the various potholes over the years can guide others around them. The industry has changed so much and we “old-timers” have tried EVERYthing. A word to the wise: don’t try to re-invent the wheel. RESEARCH. Do your research (here at IU and other places on the web) and you won’t have to make the same mistakes we did. Unfortunately there are way too many scammers out there trying to make a buck on a new, untried writer. Self-publishing can be done easily and affordably.

  5. Like Lynne (above) I keep meeting writers who believe a traditional publisher will promote their book everywhere. They think they won’t have to do anything apart from turn up and sign books for the hoards of people buying their books.

  6. Excellent article, Dick, and it’s amazing how many people, aspiring authors by the score, think that the elusive publisher will handle the marketing. I learned the hard way with my first book.

Comments are closed.