The Seismic Power of Epiphanies
Epiphanies are like earthquakes; there may be a million little pressures building beneath the surface, but when they finally strike its usually without warning. Its seismic. I’m not talking about gradually dawning realizations, here. I’m talking about real epiphanies. I had one recently, and its shaken me to the core: I’m going to self-publish my novel.
I’m going to self publish my novel, and that isn’t a bad thing. Its not the option of last resort—its what I really want to do. Its what I should have wanted all along. A series of events have transpired which forced me to stop ignoring the obvious.
Let me tell you why.
For my entire life I’ve believed the myth; traditional publishing is the only legitimate way to be an author. Agents and editors were the gatekeepers to the publishing world, only allowing the best and brightest writers to pass through and bask in the warm, golden light of authordom. Plus, landing a publishing deal meant I wouldn’t have to worry about promotion, etc. Wrong. Kind of, but more about that in a minute.
It started with my husband. While scrolling through Facebook in early February he discovered a kid that went to his high school was putting out his umpteenth book through Amazon’s publishing services. Always my biggest advocate, he turned to me and asked why the hell I hadn’t thought of that.
I answered, “Well—I have thought of that, but I want this to be the best book it can be. I think I need the agent/editor combo to make sure I’m putting my best foot forward.”
He scoffed and told me it was already a good book. Okay, he’s my husband, so he’s obligated to say that, but in his defense he believes it. I believe it too, but I know it can benefit from a professional, objective eye, so whatever; stalemate. The seed was planted.
I figured it couldn’t hurt to learn more about the process, so I self-published my short story The Arousal of Danger about a week later. I went in blind, did a little clumsy promotion, and distributed about thirty copies to date. Its been well received and I’ve learned a lot. Turns out it wasn’t so hard, and it wasn’t so bad. Its no bestseller, but that wasn’t the point. It was—pressure building beneath the surface—a learning experience.
Days later, the March 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest appeared in my mailbox, asking on the front cover, “Should Self-Publishing be your First Choice?” I feverishly flipped to the article, which talked all about how unless a writer lands one of the big-five publishers, most of the promotion is going to be on him/her anyways. All that work and way less royalties—pressure mounting.
A week or so after, via the magic of Twitter, I discovered a book called SAM by an emergent LGBT author from New Zealand named Luke Harris. The cover was beautiful, and the 140-character-or-less description was enough to get me to click the link to Amazon. A tiny bit of investigation revealed SAM was self-published and I thought, hell, might as well give it a shot. If nothing else I’d be supporting a community I was considering becoming a part of, and if the book was good that’d be a bonus!
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Revenge is better with a side of bacon. . .
It wasn’t good. It was great! I read the entire thing in two days and—pressure building to a breaking point—was astounded by how polished and professional a self-published novel could be. I found Luke’s website, and wouldn’t you know it? He had a post about how he self-published Sam in 10 “easy” steps. Maybe I could do this after all!
Epiphany! The ground shook (or maybe it was just the creaky floorboards of my 107 year old house as I jumped up and down). I reached out to Luke and told him how much the novel and his experience publishing it had inspired me. I was going to do this too—it was decided. He offered me some great words of support. Warm fuzzies all around.
Suddenly it was time to make a plan and really commit to it. I thought I’d query and tweak my manuscript for as long as it took to find someone—anyone—willing to take a chance on me. And if I didn’t? I’d let this book become a desk drawer novel that so many authors talk about.
Why? Why, when I’m willing to take a chance on myself? Those of you who’ve already read a draft of the novel know; believing in oneself is the point of the whole thing. I wrote 140,000 words to make that point. Why was I ignoring my own advice?
So its going to come out this year—probably around September. Maybe sooner, maybe later. But its going to come out. I’ll use professional editing services I pay for. I’ll commission a cover designer. I’ll pay for some promotion and learn to promote myself. I’ll learn to be a brand, and I’ll find and define my own success.
And I’ll build a community around the central theme of my novel—that we should be our own best advocates. We should love ourselves and believe in our potential; we shouldn’t require the approval of others to thrive.
I hope you’ll come along with me. I’ll be posting here regularly—hopefully three times a week—and after this post, very little of it is going to be about writing. I’d like for you to get to know me better, and I’d like it to be a conversation. Lets start right now:
Have you ever experienced an earth-shattering epiphany? What was it? Leave me a comment below, and lets talk. And if you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog by email. Lets be in touch.
All the best,