The one year anniversary of Lunatic Fringe’s release is coming up in September, so I’m taking some time to reflect on the past year and the things I’ve learned. It’s pretty easy to reflect on all my trials and failings, so instead, I’m going to kick off this month with a celebration of the things I did right.
17 things I did right:
1) Made some fucking awesome swag. T-shirts aren’t a big money maker, but they give folks a way to interact with me and the themes of my book in a different way. Plenty of people have bought shirts without even having have read the book and that makes me totally content. And that they make people smile and ask questions is a big bonus.
2) Typeset the book myself. This isn’t something everyone will enjoy. It can be tedious, head-ache-inducing work. But for me, something of a Libran aesthete, I loved deciding where my page numbers would go and what chapter headings would look like. Plus, I acquired the skill and now I can do it for others. I picked up a new trade! Cool!
3) Threw myself a party. Throwing parties stresses me out, but I’m pretty damn good at it. It was fun. Plus, it allowed me to presell books that I wouldn’t have to ship. Folks picked them up on their way out of the party. Easy.
4) Delegated party tasks. Tons of people asked how they could help. I told them how. Thus, I had a birthday cake with my book cover, folks to help me man my merch table, people feeding me booze all night (necessary. See #3)
5) Created a killer pitch. I didn’t have to say anything more than Lesbian Werewolves, and people were excited. I always got a laugh.
6) Squirreled away some cash. Not a lot, and most of it I blew on an editor that didn’t work out, but having some cash to outlay to order a cache of books and swag was great.
7) Created a business bank account. This allowed me to track income/expenses from books, merch & speaking gigs very easily.
8) Started social media early and found the ones I liked. I love Twitter, I’m okay with Facebook, and now I’m really into Tumblr. Blogging was and is hard for me, but I enjoy it when I do it. Have a web presence early allowed people multiple ways of finding me and connecting.
9) Built a website early. Ditto.
10) Sold books through my own website. If people want a signed copy, the can order one straight through me. It’s a bit more of a pain than Amazon, but I keep more of the proceeds and I get to connect with fans directly.
11) Got out there. I’m an introvert. It takes a lot of energy for me to put on underwear and be friendly (twice as much to do both!). But, books are sold and experiences happen out in the world. So I went to World Fantasy Con, WisCon, Momentum Con, Golden Crown Conference, The Bil Conference, San Diego, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Santa Cruz, LA, New York City, Baltimore, DC, Portland, & Atlanta all in service of my book and my author-self. And I have more amazing friends and memories than I can count because of this. Put on your big-girl panties and get out there, kids.
12) Connected with booksellers. Again, introvert. But happily, so are many booksellers. Nerds! We’re everywhere! It’s true that bookstores don’t move a lot of my books, but I don’t really care. I love knowing people who care so much about business of connecting people to good books. I’ve met some really fun people, and I have opportunities to do readings, stop in and drop off more books, and generally be part of a community of book loving people.
13) Practiced transparency. It’s gotten me into trouble sometimes, but being transparent is really the only way I know how to be. Writing and publishing a book isn’t easy, and I want people to see what it’s like from the inside. This means being open about big mistakes, money, emotional roller-coasters and all of it.
14) Advocated self-publishing. There’s still a lot of shame attached to self publishing, but I refuse to take that shame on as my own. There are folks who are curious about it who may be more timid than I. So, I’m standing up proudly about my path and choices so that I may help others choose powerfully as well.
15) 90 Days of Self-Publishing was a pain in my ass, but it allowed me to educate others while educating myself. Because self-publishing is changing all the time as technology changes, people are looking for answers. I was able to provide answers in the spirit of peermanship, teaching as I learned.
16) Stayed true to my voice. I’m really not trying to be anyone but myself. This means being my irreverent, sex-positive, queerdo, feminist self. Some folks might feel alienated by this, but it’s me, and I see no true benefit in hiding these things.
17) Planned and executed my own tour. Fuuuuuuck that was hard. It was like throwing a party every damn day. But it was 100% worth it. I proved something to myself by pulling it off. I got better at being on stage, and I even created a fucking awesome lit event (LIT!) to support the tour. I also developed some workshops that I can now teach easily anywhere. Most of all, though, I got to visit some beautiful places and connect with extraordinary people.
That’s pretty much off the top of my head. There are more things I did, and I’ll probably mention them as they come to mind. I also made a shitton of mistakes, and you can bet I’ll mine them here soon enough. What about you, indie authors? What have you done that worked? What about you, readers? Anything an author has done that’s made you appreciate their efforts more?