I’m in a different dimension listening to this song “Young Dumb & Broke” by Khalid while writing this blog. The vibe is real.
In many ways, being young, dumb and broke taught me so much about humility, resilience and inexorability, until at present. Every new challenge, every single unique experience need these characteristics. It is no different by having published a book for the first time.
Unlike most writers that I encountered on social media and such platforms, I did not plan to go towards this path professionally. I just wanted to compile my poems to have a physical printed collection, and yet, it turned out more than that. I just took the opportunity to explore as I got curious about the entire process. The learning curve is immense.
Many authors and publisher blogs are out there to guide all of us newbies and seasoned indie authors alike. They can be so overwhelming because there are lots to take in. So you have to learn, objectify, and select the path/s you will take with all the pointers from everyone. Now, I will add to the universe of self-published indie authors who give advice, or mere gateway for someone like me a year ago.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH
Compare different blogs and articles you read online and decide which one you believe and go for. They may all be well-intended and correct, but you are the best judge of what will work for you, even as a newbie. You just have to allow yourself to take some trial and error to some decisions and take it from there. When you become too overwhelmed with over-information, pause and find the common patterns with what advice is stated around and go for it.
Once you finished researching, research some more. It’s a never-ending task all throughout the process. The pace of technologies and information can only get faster. I take this as continuing education for free.
I have overlooked a lot of expenses in the process. My budget ballooned because of the costs I didn’t know are needed beforehand. Regardless of how many hours of research I’ve done to list down what I need to pay for, I somehow did not get it right. In the end, I have to increase my investment 150% more than I intended only because I never realised factors along the way. It’s okay though, because it’s like paying for a diploma course, only that you are doing an on-the-job training directly.
So when it comes to budgeting, it is imperative to keep an open mind and list as much as possible. Have a provision for incidental expenses, that saved me a few tears.
LEGAL AND LICENSING
HIRING PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE EXPERIENCED TO HELP YOU
This is something you have to invest fully on if you want a high-quality output. There’s no risking “blind leading the blind”. Instead, hire pros who can help you go through the process because you can rely on them to also teach you the tools of the trade and undercut mistakes, misery and time that you make.
This includes editors (critique, copyediting, proofreading), book cover designer, book designer. PR is in high consideration if this is part of your goal.
I hired a highly reputable poetry team to critique my preliminary manuscript to check if I’m just a delusional wannabe writer-poet or I really have some talent to commercialise my work. From here, I can cut my losses if I have a terrible material instead of wasting an investment. Thankfully, they encouraged me to follow through with practical evaluation of what I must do to enhance my manuscript.
I wanted to have a local editor here in Australia who has a profound experience with poetry, and after shortlisting a few, I went by my gut and approached one. We arranged a preliminary call to see if we “vibe” together. This getting-to-know is crucial apart from their experience to build trust in each other that your editor can carry through your vision and intent. I cannot imagine my poems the way I developed them without my excellent editor’s extensive input. She let me see my lyrics profoundly from another point of view.
Next was to find a book cover artist. It took me a few weeks to list artists from Instagram and DeviantArt. I approached a few and see who are open for collaboration and who will get my vision. Finally, I fell in love with Leni’s body of work and have had book cover design experience apart from just illustrating for me, it was a match made in heaven. I splurged to pay for her services because a book cover can make or break a book as I have learned from all writing blogs: “… people judge books by their covers.” Indeed.
I never gambled for book formatting either. I badly wanted to make this book right. So I approached one of my self-publishing heroes to help me with this plus proofreading. I trusted them entirely while learning new publishing jargons to precisely orchestrate how I see how the pages come to life. True enough, they made my life so much easier.
SO, now you know how serious I was to fully develop my first poetry book. Ultimately, I wrote so many poems throughout these years for my own entertainment. Having decided to share this with the world, it is a big deal for me. This vast space is unnerving. All I wanted for my book, A Fraction of Momentary Love: Poems, is for you to experience a gravitational pull from one of my poems.
I will write more specifics for my lessons learned in the next few blogs, so please watch this space.