Self-Publishing is a Marathon, not a Sprint

The Passive Voice usually has some great stuff, and it almost always tends to inspire me, but this morning I’ve got a cuppa, ALL of the older kids are off to school and it’s exactly one week until our baby is here.

This may actually be my last chance for peace like this… so I shall write.

Passive Guy wrote about how self-publishing and traditional publishing are both really just on a bell curve.  The Amanda Hockings and the Joe Konraths of the Yay Self-Publishing World are on that high bit of the curve.  There’s a few others up there, sure, but for the most part, the rest of us are towards the lower ends.

The market is changing, and changing quickly.  The entire publishing world is going through an enormous shift, and the World has never quite looked like this for writers.  It’s pretty exciting.

So, the little guys see their shot, they read the blogs and the media articles and the hooplah about the chubby girl from southern Minnesota that’s making millions doing this and they think, “HEY!  I can do that TOO!

I know, because I am one of them.

The action is on, big things are happening, and as is our human nature, we want to get in on the action and do the big things too.

But we don’t look before we leap.  We just hop in and start running, forgetting one thing:

This race is a marathon, not a sprint.

Konrath and Hocking haven’t just been writing 9 hours a day for the past few months, they’ve been doing it for years.  And they haven’t just been writing book after book in an effort to push their product out to the masses.  They’ve written what they know and love…

And then polished the ever-loving shit out of it.

Editing folks.  Fix up.  Fix up and get it as close to perfect as you can before you put it out there.  More than one downloaded sample has been blasted from my Kindle (app) into oblivion because of typos and infodumps.

The typos can usually be forgiven, to a point (I’m not the Grammar Nazi that Wifeage is) but I can usually apply the Cockroach Theory: For every one you can see, there’s ten in the wall.

If the author couldn’t be f*cked to fix a very obvious typo within the first few pages, then they probably couldn’t be bothered writing a very good book either.  They probably just wanted to write a book, tell that story that’s been burning inside of their little writerheads, and then sit back and cash in.

And they’ve probably sold some books, especially if they’re good (or lucky) at self-promotion.  But if it ain’t a very good book, that won’t last very long.

Infodumps are a trickier one, because they’re probably more along the lines of personal preference more than the black/white of typos, but they’re still a No Fly Zone for me.

Frequently billed as “backstory”, infodumps are the authors way of catching you up on every little thing that’s happened so that you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.  The Passive Voice also linked to a brilliant article on
How To Include Backstory Without Killing Your Novel, which essentially says “Pay close attention to your first bits, they’re really important”.

Of course, I’ll never get tired of telling folks how Les Edgerton’s “Hooked” changed my entire life.  Or rather, gave me the right tools to get right into writing, and writing something well.

So, in our haste to simply start cashing in on the excitement, we crank out the novel that’s been brewing on the backburners of our li’l creative consciousness and we forget to make it very good.

We just wanted it out there.

The window isn’t closing, and for the good writers, it probably never will.  Mark Coker said it best with Point Number One in his post: The Seven Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success

Write a great book.

And if you needed Tyler Durden to make it clear for you, Coker’s Point Number Two is:

Write another great book.

You getting this yet?  Awesome.

Take your time.  Pace yourself.  I have no doubt that you’ve got one helluva story in there, and that you’re pretty good with words, but if you really want to make this work…

Get it right the first time.

Good luck!

2 thoughts on “Self-Publishing is a Marathon, not a Sprint

  1. Info-dumps, or as I prefer to call them, Stieg Larsson’s. I liked Michael Connelly’s quote from Castle the other day; “You know what I did after I wrote my first book? I shut up and wrote another 23!”

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