Surviving Self-Publishing with Delirious Optimism

Before I ever became a writer, I was (and continue to be) first and foremost a lover of stories.  I am a voracious consumer of stories in all their forms: books – from multiple genres, movies – from the silent era on up, history lectures – I minored in history, story time at the local library – don’t knock it, and even business analysis – which is my “other” profession and takes more story-telling ability than you’d think. My insatiable imagination takes me into those different worlds, and I look around and think, “Oh yeah, I could stay here for a while.”

Stories float around in my head all the time. In quiet moments like driving to work or running, my mind wanders through different scenes.  I put myself to sleep imagining my characters and how they would interact. I lose myself in my ideas.  All before I ever put pen to paper (or in my case fingers to keyboard).

The stories in my head are the reason why I write. Writing has become my outlet, almost a catharsis, and I write for myself.  I write because I would love to revisit my stories and the places and characters I create. Like catching up with an old friend. I don’t write with fame or fortune in mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I would be absolutely thrilled if my stories reached out to readers…. if someone else looked around the world I created and wanted to stay there a while with me. And that’s why I am now working my tail off to become a self-published author.

I have only just started this journey, and let’s be honest; the stats are pretty darn depressing.  We self-publishers have all seen them.  For example, 2.75 million books were self-published in 2010 – and I’m guessing, with the growing popularity of ebooks and increasing ease of self-publishing – that that number will continue to grow rapidly.

According to lulu.com, of the self-published books in 2010, ~677-thousand were in ebook format.  And only 45% of 1st-time authors publish a second book. According to Taleist.com, only 10% of self-published authors are able to earn a living through this profession. And only 25% earned enough to cover the cost of producing their book in the first place.  Industry experts say most self-published books sell somewhere between 100 and 400 copies.

My own personal answer to the acknowledged unlikelihood of becoming a successfully selling self-published author is to approach this endeavor with delirious optimism. Oh yes. I said it. Not delusional optimism. Despite my vivid imagination, I am a practical person. Also not the first definition for delirium – which is mental disturbance (although on second thought that may not be far from the mark).  But the second definition of frenzied excitement and enthusiasm is where I’m headed with this.  Yeah… that’s the ticket…  enthusiasm and optimism in the face of the odds.

So with that in mind I am slowly developing my own personal approach to being a self-published author: have faith and keep it up.  Learn from those who have gone before. And focus on the positive stats out there (there are a few) while ignoring the negative.

I don’t plan to stop writing or publishing if my first book doesn’t sell more than a few copies. Regardless of how well my books sell, I am truly hooked on this process.  As I said I love the stories floating around in my head and writing them down is a passion I’ve had since I was a little girl. But now I’m discovering that I also love the publishing process – editing, creating a book cover, even the social media aspect – as time consuming as it is. And I figure the stats are on my side the more I put out there and the longer it’s out there.

So I ask the same question that I did in my very first post… think I can do it? I do!

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