Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Self-publishing words from David Dalglish

I was feeling a little lost the other day, and somewhat morose after receiving very little feedback from ANYONE  LIVING. And so I wrote to Mr Dalglish, successful self-publisher and author of the Half-Orcs series. I asked him how I'd know when to stop writing, and how bloody long it takes for things to get going (selling). This is what the nice man said:

You're entering into a very competitive market with, to be honest, a lot of terrible writers. I have no clue how good you are. You might be terrific, you might suck, but either way, you're going to have an uphill battle getting people to read your work. There's so many others out there whoring out their work that many [reviewers] are just jaded, or tired of requests. If you are going to do this you need to be prepared for the long haul. You need to accept that it might be months before you see any significant sales.

Learning how to advertise well, locate the advertising spots that work (and those that don't), making the right friends, getting covers down, getting descriptions right, pitching well...these things won't happen all at once. It'll take time. But once you get all of that down, you might see just amazing results. But again, this is long haul. You need to learn this. You need to accept that, otherwise you'll flare out and be done in a few months, feeling like you rammed your head against a brick wall for no reason.

If you're having trouble getting reviews, that sucks, but everyone has that trouble. You need to find out why. If they're bored...yeah, that's bad news. Your writing can be amazing. Your writing can be terrible. That doesn't matter near as much to readers so long as it doesn't bore them. I consider myself an entertainer. I hope you do too. Keep reading the novels that entertain you, focus on a specific audience, and write the novels you think will entertain both them, and you.

One novel is probably gonna be hard to sell, by the way. Other than a few standouts, the really successful self-publishers have four or five books out. If you feel you're a writer, then just write. Edit. Get the books out, and just keep learning. Kindles aren't going to stop selling anytime soon, if ever. You got time.

Last: if you think you CAN stop writing, do it. It's hard.  You're bleeding out for others, hoping to entertain them, only to get 1-star reviews, refunds, and people, no matter how successful you are, telling you you're a hack. If you can stop...stop. If you can't, then you're a writer.
My principal fear is that I'll dedicate an inordinate amount of my time to writing, and that I'll end up sleeping in a Delonghi convection heater box with a pair of crumbly socks for food.

Well, that may still happen... but I still have my real job. As for entertaining, this writing malarkey has been the most blindingly entertaining thing I've ever done. Really. I never thought it possible that I would be thrilled at writing thousands of words each day, but it gets me tingling in all sorts of interesting places every time.

And if I entertain someone else? I can but hope.

I think for my sanity I shall have to keep writing until I reach the end of this second book. If it stays unfinished, I'll probably waste more time dreaming up alternative endings and then verbally beat my partner over the head with them. And that can't be good.

So, yes, it looks like I'm going to have to grow some patience. Bah!

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