The past few months have been filled with so many new twists and turns, it leaves me breathless as I think back. I took on the task of self-publishing my memoir partially to avoid certain miseries like rejection, (I had no interest in facing the kinds of cruel comments and rejections typical of agents and publishers), endless waiting and criticism about what did or did not belong in my book. I figured that this was my memoir and I was the only one qualified to make those choices. Granted, publishers have tough decisions to make, but I often wonder if they put any thought into the fact that there is a human being on the other end of the manuscript they are evaluating and criticizing, choosing and/or tossing aside.
Self-publishing helped me avoid the more obvious pitfalls and agonies, but still, I was faced with new challenges daily that seemed like uphill climbs. While I was impatient to get my book done and out there, each time a notification came up on the dashboard of my publishing company of choice, Create Space, that my action was needed to move forward, I was filled with anxiety. I never fully realized how much a publisher did behind the scenes, even when it seemed like they were doing nothing: the cover design, the copy back and front, the lettering on the spine, decisions about colors that attract and repel, sizes of words, the author bio, the book description, the font size and type, and on and on.
Each decision was a learning curve for me. I’m not too keen on getting other people’s opinions on these things (maybe a person here and there) because like they say, you know what opinions are like. I decided to make my own decisions, and therefore, take credit and blame for my own successes and mistakes.
Now that the book is done and people are buying it, I feel satisfied with the decisions I made. But during the process, I spent a lot of time ruminating, fighting the voices that told me I was doing it wrong, what made me think I could pull this off, how should I know what would work and what wouldn’t. And once again, on and on.
Now that I am holding the book in my hands, regret is not one of my major stumbling blocks, I don’t regret a great deal in my life, so I can take pride in what I created. But it was and continues to be a daily obstacle to first figure out what the next thing to do is, and how and when to do it.
These days, marketing is a whole new learning curve for me, and while I stumble along and do what I can, it’s clear that understanding the social media world is tough for a baby boomer like me. I have to stay mindful and in the moment as I make constant decisions that seem to have little basis in my tried and true pool of literary knowledge. As I maneuver the learning curve of self-publishing, agonizing over sales or lack therein, over obtaining reviews and praying they are good ones, the old adage about “hope springs eternal” is in my face. In the end, all I can do is try to please myself, one tough critic I must say, and then hopefully, my decisions will be attractive and make sense to other people.