7 things I learned publishing 10 books

Quiet Apocalypse came out last month, and I’m maybe more excited about it than any other launch I’ve ever had. Except maybe the first one.

Why was this so exciting?

Because Quiet Apocalypse is my tenth published book.

That’s not even including the three short story collections I put out. Or the first season of my radio drama, AA.

I’m a firm believer that the best way to learn is by doing. And I’ve learned a hell of a lot doing this job for as long as I have. So today I want to share this hard-won wisdom I have earned. (Yes, I’m still obsessed with Hamilton.) Here then are <?> things I’ve learned after writing ten books. 

A writing career is a long game. 

With so much content out, you might imagine I’ve quit my day job and am writing full time. Unless you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know that I still have a more than full-time job. I also write for Haunted MTL. 

What I’m saying is, you’re not going to get rich quick writing books. You’re probably not going to get rich at all. I mean, it’s possible. But just not likely.

I think that I’ll be able to go full-time eventually. It’s just going to take more work than what I’ve done so far.

Writing is 75% of the battle

Most of what I do as a writer is, well, writing. Blog posts, novels, short stories, podcast scripts. Quirky little micro-fiction pieces and snarky social media posts also count as far as I’m concerned. 

Then, there’s all the other stuff I do. I submit stories, and plan and act out marketing. I run ad campaigns and do market research. I’m also exploring whether or not I could produce my own audiobooks. (Would you guys like audio versions of my books? Let me know in the comments.) I make book covers for my indie books. I schedule for them to be edited. I pay for them to be edited. There is so much involved in writing that isn’t writing.

So much.

Indie and Trad publishing have a lot more in common than I thought. 

I had a lot of assumptions going into publishing with a company instead of on my own. And maybe if you’re working with one of the bigger companies, some of my assumptions might be true. But working with an indie publisher, well it’s a lot like self-publishing your work. What my publisher did for me was to make a cover and do editing. The bulk of marketing still fell on my shoulders.

That’s the biggest surprise I had. No one is going to market your book for you but you. You’ve got to get the word out on social media. You’ve got to send out press releases, and schedule author meetups. You’ve got to let the world know your book is out and why they should give a damn. Because literally, no one else is going to do it.

Social media doesn’t count for as much as you think it does. 

I like social media (because I’m real fast with that block button.) I like talking on Twitter and sharing pictures on Instagram. And these are some ways to let people know your book is available.

But they’re not the most reliable ways. You can never be sure that anyone is seeing what you’re posting. And even if they are, they’re not going to be as compelled to buy your book as you want them to be. 

I’ve seen a steady increase over the years of social media followers and readership of PBW. And I love that! I am so happy that you’re all here. 

But my sales numbers have not gone up with those social media numbers. And that’s fine, I’m not complaining. I am saying that worrying over your Instagram followers isn’t going to do you as much good as you think it will.

The cover counts for so, so much. 

I have made my covers for my indie books in the past. Quiet Apocalypse will likely be the last book I do a cover for. Because having a professional cover counts for so much. People scrolling through books online are going to notice covers first. Then they’ll slow down and read your descriptions. But it’s the cover that’s going to sell your book first. So invest in a good one.

You will never, ever stop learning. 

I’m a pretty good writer, but I hope I’m always striving to be a better writer. I’ve got a ton to learn about marketing still if I’m being honest. And I’ll always, always have more to learn.

There’s always a convention to go to, a new book to read, a new writing practice to try. There’s always a better way to pitch, to write a fight scene, to tell people about your book. There’s always more to learn about the market and trends. There are always ways to be a better writer. And so long as you have that sort of mindset, you’ll keep getting better.

It’s still worth it. 

After all this time, after publishing ten books and still needing a full-time job, I still love it.

I still love writing. I still love sharing my work with other people. Writing Quiet Apocalypse was so much fun, and writing my current WIP (AA season two if you’re wondering) is even more fun than that. I said a long time ago that I’d still want to write if I never made a dime. And that is still the case.

I’m so proud of my books. And I fully expect to reach number twenty someday. 

And then I’ll just keep going. 

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you’d like to support us, you can do so on Ko-fi.


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