Many people ask me about self-publishing, and the first thing I say is, "Do you have time?" It's not something I can explain in a few sentences. I could go on and on in conversation about it, but I usually don't. So, I'm going to give you the short version. Well, as short as I can make it.
Okay, so I started down the road to self-publishing almost a year ago, and I can't say I've gone very far, but I can say it is super rewarding.
I've been a writer since I could write. I mostly dabbled in poetry as a kid, but I'd sit and imagine whole novels in my head. I always admired writers, but I never thought it could be possible to do what they do. I mean, seriously, how was I going to get all of that crazy imaginative stuff down on paper before it leaked out of my brain? Impossible. Right?
Back in 2008, I finally sat down and started writing. Granted, it's a story with horrific grammatical errors, a poor plot, and the characters aren't developed well, but at the time it was the greatest thing in the world. I was actually able to sit and get all of my thoughts down on paper. Let's call it a trial run. I let some of my seventh grade students read it, and they LOVED it, but it's still unpublished. I did send it off to an agent way back then (when I thought it was an amazing story). I sent the first chapter with my query letter. Guess what? An agent took the bait. I actually got a request for the entire manuscript! The problem was, my first chapter was incredible, but the rest of it...well... Needless to say, I didn't get the book published. I still have that story, sitting amidst the files and files of others I've written (partially and fully). I can't get rid of it even if I wanted to. In fact, I can't get rid of ANY of them, and I wouldn't want to. Each one is a reminder of where I've been and how far I've come.
I've spent the rest of these years writing here and there on various pieces. Most authors will tell you, stick to ONE story. I've tried and failed, quite miserably. But I must say, I agree 100%. If you're going to start on a journey, stick with it until the end. I've had to learn to focus on one adventure at a time. If I get an idea for another story, I jot down some quick notes (plot, characters, etc.) and save it for a future endeavor.
My writing adventure continues...
After reading the Twilight saga (and seeing how easily she got her books published - though I'm not a fan of her writing style, I love the stories), I thought, "If SHE can do it, surely I can, too!" So I started writing fanfiction for fun. I met tons of wonderful women along the way. Those women encouraged me to get my writing published (especially my non-fanfiction stories). Writing fanfiction totally helped me tweak my writing style as well as the plot. When readers can comment immediately on a chapter, it helps us authors tune in to what our fans are craving, and contrary to what some believe, many authors do want to fill those cravings.
So my first self-published book is a very short story published through smashwords. It's an ebook, and as I look back at it, I can see it needs some tweaking. But it's a great little story. I might just brush it up sometime. After years of writing and tweaking, I searched for a self-publisher that could give me a paperback book without much cost by me. Createspace on amazon does just that. Many authors are using it, and after tons of research, I decided to give it a try. The greatest reward was receiving my first paperback book in the mail. Just holding it in my hands... *cue the heavenly light* HALLELUJAH!
I haven't sold many books, but it doesn't matter. I know in time people who are interested will find it and read it. Those who have bought it have been hounding me for book 2. That is more rewarding than selling a million copies and NO ONE looking for more. (I'm working on it...I promise.) But that's not the point, is it? The point is, I got my book done, and now it's in the hands of readers. That's the real point, isn't it? Self-publishing can do that. It can get your stories into the hands of readers. And maybe in time my books, or your books, will be in movie theaters! (Hmm... are my hopes too high? *giggle snort*)
So if you're considering self-publishing, there are so many options out there. Look around, check out reviews, and know that you're not the only one. It can be done. You CAN be a published author!