It’s really important when you start publishing a book to spend some time thinking about the idea of success. This is really crucial, for you and for everyone else involved in your publishing project. This goes directly to your mindset as a self-publisher, how you approach the whole idea of being a published author.
Let me tell you what I mean.
A few years ago I had a friend who had started writing short stories. She didn’t think of herself as a writer. It’s just that there were a number of events in her life, stuff that had happened to her over the years that stood out in her memory. It’s hard to say why one moment sticks out like that, and so many others fade away. But those were the ones she wanted to explore.
As these things go, my friend ended up with a book full of stories. She had worked hard, tried to make the stories better, less awkward, more direct. She tried to get to what it was that made them stick in her mind, and she had succeeded more often than not.
So she thought it would be nice to make it into a book she could share with the people she loved.
I put her in touch with an editor—because every writer needs an editor, don’t they?—and they hit it off right away. It seemed like the editor, with many years of book editing experience, recognized the book inside the book.
A few months later my friend presented me with a finished manuscript. The stories now had a gleam and polish like fine gems. Together, it was a delightful book.
I created a charming small softcover book for her. It had flaps, nice paper and a pretty picture of a tree from her property on the cover. It was never intended to be sold, it was a way to put her stories into a form that showed them at their best, and which could be shared.
My friend became even more adept at using writing. Soon she was giving readings at bookstores and book events near where she lived. People would come, and when they heard her stories and saw the charming little book with the tree on the cover, they wanted a copy. She sold them by hand, one at a time.
Soon enough the whole print run was exhausted, and she reprinted the book. Then she sold those, too. By this time she had sold hundreds of copies of the little book. When she realized that people truly loved her stories and the book we had made from them, she decided to expand the book and actually publish it to the world. I hope to have this book to show to you in the future.
I love this story because my friend started out with no intention of “publishing.” She had no ISBNs, no marketing, no distribution, no publishing company name, nothing. She did it just for the enjoyment of doing it.
Even so, once the book was in print there was just no stopping it from reaching the readers who would appreciate it the most. And my friend now gives workshops, focusing on helping troubled teens through the magic of creative writing.
Sometimes the writer writes the book. Sometimes the book has to escape from the writer to live. Often, we can only guess at our own motives for what we do. Standing up, where we can be seen by others in a completely new way, takes a certain kind of courage.
For some writers, publishing their first book takes that kind of courage.
Photo by W Warby