Almost a year ago, I decided to stop trying to sway agents and publishers to represent the children’s chapter book I’d written and take a chance with self-publishing. I did it partly because I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and partly because I figured I had as good a chance as any small press author. More than that, however, I truly believed in the quality of my book and the market for the story (and do so more than ever, now).
The business side of selling books has been the roller coaster ride that I’d expected. There are real highs (Kids’ book purchaser, Val King, ordering my books for Chapters Indigo), and painful lows (being told I’m not a “real” author by literary associations). I also empathize with publishers more than ever. It’s hard to make a living selling books! Just ask my accountant (also known as my husband).
Not unlike most first-time authors, I’ve had to hustle to arrange signings at bookstores, cajoled kids and parents to take a chance on a great new book, send press releases to newspapers and blogs, and uh, find additional means for income (jewellery anyone?)
I’ve learned more than I’d ever have imagined through this process and met some amazing authors who, in my mind, must be among the hardest working authors out there. For anyone considering taking the self-publishing leap, here’s some advice:
- Be prepared to work hard. Really, really hard.
- Believe in your book. If you don’t, you’ll have a hard time convincing others of its worth.
- Get over any fear of sales. You’re not just a writer, you’re a salesperson.
- Get over any fear of performing. You’re not just a salesperson, you’re a performer.
- Do it on a shoe-string budget without sacrificing quality. It is possible, with some creativity and willingness to learn.
I have immensely enjoyed the experience. Jumping into the entrepreneurial jungle has armed me with far more opportunities, challenges, and insights into myself and others than had I depended upon a traditional publisher. The book’s sequel, Danny in a Newfangled World: Saving Ivan, is almost completed. Perhaps I’ll publish it myself again, and perhaps an agent will recognize its worth. Either way… I’m the boss and I control my destiny.
Danielle Bileski Leonard
Her book is Danny in a Newfangled World. Written for 7-11 year olds to enjoy. Website is dannyinanewfangledworld.com. Available at chaptersindigo.ca and at local bookstores. She blogs about the challenges of raising kids in a digital world at porridgereport.com