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Self-Published in St. Petersburg

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Dear Indie Annie,

I published my first book last month. I worked really hard on it, paid for professional editing and cover, and I’m really proud of it.

But when I told friends and family that I had a book out, they asked who the publisher was and what “deal” did I get. They told me that self-publishing isn’t real publishing, it’s just for books that aren’t good enough to be picked up by a traditional publisher. Now I feel really low and am struggling to find the motivation to continue with book two in the face of such derision of my achievement.

What should I do?

Self-Published in St. Petersburg

Dear Self-Published,

May I call you SP? I’ll take that as a “yes.” I will start by saying “Congratulations, you wrote a book!” Savor that incredible success for a moment.

Sweet, sweet, darling SP, many years ago, when I set off on my self-publishing journey, I created for myself an Indie Author Bingo Card. I took some thick paper and drew a grid. On each square, I wrote in a milestone to tick off as I went. I might share it here one day, but basically it comprised key achievements that recognized where I was on the indie author road to success. The square marked “Idiots telling me I’m not really published unless I am trad published.” is the most ticked box on that card.

You see, when I set out to be an indie, I did a lot of research. 

From your question, I know you have too. You worked hard to make your book the best it can be. Well done!

The thing is, SP, I knew from my research that there would always be people who, though their hearts be full of the milk of human kindness, have sawdust in their heads when it comes to publishing. They are often the same people who tut at online articles talking about the latest YouTube millionaires. Articles published for free on their smartphones. The same articles they used to pay to have delivered by a kid on a bike before breakfast. Who buys a newspaper these days? 

Or put another way, who buys CDs when you have Spotify, or iTunes or … I could go on, but I won’t (we all know there are other platforms). I am old enough to remember when Netflix was a DVD rental service. I am also old enough to remember when you could only see a Disney film at the movie theater, and they would only re-release feature length cartoons every seven years! Now, my entire family has access to Disney+ every month for the price of a single cinema ticket. 

Would your family and friends say that Disney aren’t professional film makers anymore? Or that their favorite crooner is no longer a platinum selling artist because their new album has gone straight to Spotify? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. 

Yes, there are bad books out there, we all know that. 

Some thrown up on self-publishing platforms after being rejected by mainstream publishers. Others published traditionally, with all the usual bells and whistles, but still missing the mark. I won’t name and shame, but a quick Google search on the worst books ever written will reveal a cornucopia of potential suspects. 

Hopefully, your first book will never appear on these lists, but my dear SP, so what if it does? You have still done what many people say they are going to do—you wrote a book. This already makes you a winner. 

Keep on winning. 

You have only just begun the work. Now you have Book One, edited and published. Write book two. Find your audience. Get those sales. 

I suggest, in a few years’ time, taking a screenshot of your royalties. Print it, laminate it, and carry it with you on a lanyard. And, if the opportunity presents itself, wave that lanyard proudly in the face of all your current naysayers. Sing “Na, na, na, na, na” if you want. With the right attitude and a fair wind behind you, you could be laughing all the way to the bank. 

Happy writing,

Indie Annie x

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