A little over a decade ago, my in-laws decided to have a new house built. They worked with an architect and contractors and everybody else required, and over many months, they succeeded. It’s a lovely, unique place that they enjoy to this day. But getting there wasn’t so easy. It required passion, hard work, and oftentimes a change in mindset. The biggest mindset change that occurred, the one that made the whole experience difficult and challenging, was that suddenly they cared.
For example, they were asked what hardware they wanted on the doors — what type of doorknob. My mother-in-law’s response — I don’t care. Just put a doorknob on.
Okay, said the contractor, we’ll go with Brand X.
My mother-in-law looks at Brand X and discovers that suddenly, she cares. Suddenly, it does matter, and suddenly, every single little tiny detail is her responsibility.
So it is with self-publishing. At this point with my short story collection, 10 Bits of My Brain, I’ve had the copy-edits done and done wonderfully (thanks for the contact, Ed), and I’ve put a lot of work into learning how to format the text which has been fun. I expect to have the introduction turned in within a few weeks (thanks David), and I’m delving into learning about covers. So, all is chugging along fine. Except for the fact that suddenly, I care.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve re-ordered the stories, or how long I’ve mulled over the placement of the Acknowledgements page. Do I want to have that as part of the opening materials or at the end to cap things off? I like both placements and dislike both for many reasons. Now, I know that in many ways, it doesn’t really matter. People either read that page or skip it. But like the doorknobs, I care.
And that’s a good thing.
If you’re thinking about going down the self-publishing path, then I urge you to consider the type of person you are. Because, if you really care about your writing and aren’t just trying to find a quick buck (which readers here know, you ain’t gonna find), then you are going to have to really care about the book itself, the experience beyond the words. As I’ve been putting my book together, I suddenly became hyper-aware of all the little pages (the Acknowledgements page, the Title page, the Dedication page, the Table of Contents, the Copyright notice, the About the Author page) that go into the making of a book. It’s suddenly my job to consider if and/or where those pages belong in my book. Suddenly, I care. If you don’t care, don’t waste a reader’s time by self-publishing your book. Because, after all, when you self-publish, you self PUBLISH — you become a publisher and must think about those aspects of creating a book.
A major plus side to all this is that when you finish, you’ll be able to offer a lovely, unique reading experience that is your work of art — and not just in the words. And it’s something that can last as long as the internet itself. But you have to care.
NOTE — This is ConCarolinas weekend! The whole MW group (minus Misty) is in Charlotte, NC, so we might not be as active on the site the next few days, but we’ll be checking in whenever possible, and we’ll be back on Monday.