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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Woe to You, Oh New Writer

Life's really not fair. Can we all agree to that? Even for myself, who  has an ideal family and looks forward to being married to the girl of my dreams, our situation doesn't really feel as perfect as it could be.

If I have complaints, I can imagine what the lives of others must be like, lacking the ideal companion.

The eBook revolution, as I call it, is both a blessing and a curse. Consider the plight of the new author. You have a single novel you've written. Your name is as of yet unknown. Perhaps you're not deeply ingrained with the ins-and-outs of computery things. You're not a promotion wizard. You just like to write, and you've decided to make the leap to ePublishing.

So you diligently type up the one novel, lovingly hand-written. You begin to struggle with formatting. You see that you need to make word changes in the text you previously thought was perfect. You squash typos and spelling mistakes, and introduce new ones.

Maybe you realize you didn't add chapters, or chapter titles. Perhaps what you had been calling the novel is already taken, causing you to rethink that, as well.

But let's assume you manage most of that. You have a good debut novel, you've started writing a second one. How exciting. And you're going to publish.

And you hit the wall at the uploading process. Maybe Smashwords' Meatgrinder has chewed you up and spat you out, rejected. Change all of my tabs to paragraph indents? Font size errors? A copyright page?

But I just want to write!

Suddenly, you're forced to become an expert on Microsoft Word, or the equivalent. Time that should be spent writing is now spent relearning  a tool you thought you knew how to use already.

Let's assume you fix the mechanical errors. You're published! Yay!

You bug all of your family and friends, and get a few polite purchases. And then...nothing. So you start to work Facebook. A few more sales, perhaps.

And then watch your sales ranks drift slowly back down to #786,023 out of 984,857.

So you get on Goodreads. You solicit reviews from ebook reviewers. You make additional editing passes, as your readers deserve nothing but the best possible reading experience you can offer them.

Suddenly you realize that you haven't written anything in days. Weeks. You have somehow morphed into an editor and publicist. It's almost like the writer is another person entirely, and he or she is M.I.A.

Welcome to the horrors of ePublishing.

I'm really lucky. I have a name firmly established in several areas of the Internet. I wrote several novels before publishing. I have an editor who types up my pages and makes sense of my scrawl.

But even then, that doesn't directly, immediately translate into sales. It is a long, slow slog up hill, I assure you.

But guess what? It's still better than trying to deal with the print world...