Has it really been a year since I began this self publishing journey? So much has happened in this short time.
Actually it took three years to come to 2015.
Before that, I spent decades in a world of publishers. In those days, the way was set and there was no other path. If you wanted to be published you had to find a publisher which could take years.
You spent a lot of time looking for agent and publisher emails. Some of them, yes, even today, want the old snail mail and not email. You had done your research and then you prepared your query letter as carefully as if for god. You waited patient or inpatient, but you waited. Sometimes, you got no reply. If you did get a reply it was often a curt dismissal.
Your self esteem, if you had any left, hit the floor. You took days and much effort to recover from a rejection but that, they told you, was the author’s way.
Yes, it used to be the author’s life and it was a very tough one. When you write, you are emotional and open. You are by yourself or among writing friends. Nothing prepares you for the publisher world when your tender butterfly meets the shark.
From the dreamy world of wispy imagination you now have to deal with the teeth of contracts and legalese, non competes and ebook rights and the terrible fangs of rotten contracts.
It’s a nasty road and very painful but who cares for writers anyway? It’s a self sustaining environment. You are told, over and over, that there is no other way. You need a publisher and you need their approval. Without that writing anointing, you are nothing. Your fragile child must be turned over to rough hands to be assessed in financial terms. mangled or rejected. And you must take it with a smile and say, thank you.
So, there I was, limping on the accepted path.
Then I heard the first murmurs about ebooks and self publishing as a viable option and not the notorious vanity presses.
I spent the next two years convincing myself that it could work. It’s tough getting out of the ‘only a publisher can sanctify a book’ to ‘you mean I can do it myself?’
I learned about Kindle Direct Publishing. Wow, you mean I can publish without cost, keep all the rights and get 70 percent of every book, with detailed accounts and regular payments?
Isn’t that a fairytale just too good to be true? Isn’t that a story made to snare unwary authors? I heard that from many people. It’s easy to believe. Writers have been so battered and abused that is hard to believe there are fair and decent terms out there.
But my own research showed me something. I read all the blogs and haunted the writing forums. It was true. Yes, it was true.
It took me three years to decide to take the plunge. In 2015 I knew I would go for it.
The first ebook was the toughest. I had to learn how to do it. I collected my flash fiction into a book. Figured out how to do the cover with a basic painting and some photo editors to give it texture. I edited every word several times.
But the big problem lay ahead – formatting.
I had no idea how to do it so I gave it to a company to do. In September last year my first ebook, To Catch a Falling Star, was published in silence. No fanfare, no book readings, nothing but a blog post and emails.
Nothing but a feeling of great and deep satisfaction.
Yes, I knew I liked this path. I had to figure out how to do it myself. I had to undertand the formatting so I downloaded the books and studied websites.
In December, a short story, A Handful of Rice went up. This was was even more satisfying because I had done it all myself, the cover, editing, formatting and uploading to Amazon’s KDP.
Book 3, whiskers and purrs, a collection of cat haiku went up in February 2016.
I put together a book of short meditations, 5 Minute Delight, which went up in May.
In July our haiku group published our first anthology, A Taste of Sea Breeze.
And in August, I published Life Crafting, Techniques of Self Growth and Creativity.
My sixth book in the first year. I thought it took a year to write a book but I discovered that it takes publishers a year, not writers. I started out with the idea of publishing one book and went on to do six. I thought it impossible but it was not even stressful. I enjoyed every moment of it.
Sales have not been great but they have been selling. I know this is a marathon and will build up slowly. I am in no hurry at all, as a I plod along writing the next book.
The strange thing is that when I was a child, imagining the writers life, this is what I imagined. The great satisfaction of writing and publishing just as I please. Then I grew up and ran head first into the wall of the publishing world. From then on, it was a struggle. Now the delight and the easy playful creativity is back without the stress and struggle.
The year was not yet done with me.
I do workshops at Somaiya Center for Lifelong Learning and I suggested one on how to publish your own ebook. I put together everything I had learned in the year so that others could do this too.
I had no idea what the response would be but there were lots of queries. The workshop was full, the people who showed up were really interested and Midday and DNA both covered it. This is the DNA article.
And so the first year ended on a high note, with a workshop. My first ebook expanded almost effortlessly into 6.
And now, a short respite, a trip or two and Diwali break, before I begin year 2.
I can’t wait!
I know it will be better than the first as my self publishing journey goes on.