I don’t believe all writers are solitary creatures – I’m pretty sure some of them leave the darkness of the cave once in a while, just like the rest of the world – but the act of writing is certainly one that requires a degree of solitude. There are times, I would argue, when you need stillness, a certain distance between yourself and the commotion of everyday life, if only to settle your thoughts and move your book along.
Of course, inspiration may strike when you’re at a football match or doing the shopping, but getting that feeling down on paper, then developing it, is probably less arduous when you have fewer distractions. You need a bit of space to get perspective, to consider the options.
The act of publishing, however, is a different matter altogether. Hitting ‘publish’ is the equivalent of shouting ‘Look what I’ve done!’ in a voice that will carry across the world, and keep on going. A scary thought, in many ways – once it’s out there, it’s out there.
So perhaps I can be forgiven for getting slightly jittery, now that The Big Day is approaching. I keep telling myself it’s excitement – a positive thing – but there’s more to it than that. Last week I started to go into a tailspin after reading contradictory information online about sorting out my tax status with Amazon, Smashwords et al (getting a bit ahead of myself, admittedly, but these things need to be considered). And this was while I was in the middle of going over the copy-edit I’d had done, after which I knew I’d be heading into proofreading territory, followed by formatting. Add a whole list of other things to the mix – trim size, font style, finalizing the cover design, deciding about the ISBN, barcode, pricing etc etc etc – and, just for a moment, I began to feel a little overwhelmed.
And that’s why I think it’s necessary to say just what an amazing ‘support group’ the community of writers is. Whenever I’ve approached someone with a query, they have always been more than happy to assist, and if they couldn’t supply an answer, there would always be a link to help me on my way. There’s a real ‘we’re all in this together’ approach, which I’m finding really refreshing.
I’m not sure what I expected when I decided to self-publish. While part of me hoped that there would be some kind of safety net, another part thought that most people would be too busy with their own work, too focused on their time-consuming projects, to stop and give little old me the benefit of their experience. Luckily it was the former – and then some.
It’s a bit like being a learner driver: I haven’t got my foot to the floor, trying to get to my destination in the fastest possible time, and running the risk of not getting there at all. I’m trying to learn about the whole process, and do everything as best I can, which takes time. Every indie author who has put their work out there has been in the same situation, and, it seems, those I’ve contacted are showing me the same consideration that we all give the newbies with the ‘L’ plates. You know, the ones who drive slowly in front of us, or stall at a busy junction, when we’re already running late for an appointment and chewing on the steering wheel.
So yes, I’ve stalled a couple of times recently, but the reaction from other writers has been, ‘It’s okay, get yourself into neutral. Now, this is what you need to do …’. And I really appreciate it, to the extent that I’m no longer prefacing my emails with, ‘Sorry if this is a really dim question, but …’. I’m just introducing myself, asking politely for advice, and thanking them for their time.
In return, while I like to think that my copy-editing work helps other writers, hopefully at some point I will be able to pay back people as a member of the writing community, in the same way that I’ve been helped so far. Any mistakes I’ve made – or will make – can be a lesson for others. As far as this first book is concerned, I should be able to ditch the ‘L’ plates very soon, but, at the moment, I’m simply trying to enjoy the journey.