Early this year I set the intention to publish another book. I am incredibly pleased to announce that Positive Aging: A SMART Living 365 Guide to Thriving and Wellbeing is now published and available on Amazon. It is available either as a paperback or on Kindle. While it took longer than I expected and several challenges popped up along the way, I believe it turned out even better than I hoped. And, in true SMART Living fashion, I also learned a few things about myself and the process that I thought some of you might be interested in learning, regardless of whether you write or not.
As some of you may know, this book is my sixth published book. My first book was published in 2003 by Findhorn, a small publisher in Scotland. I could barely contain my excitement when I held that first book in my hands when it arrived in the mail. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before I learned that in spite of being “published,” the success of the sales and marketing of the book rested on my shoulders. Never one to push my writing on others, my book achieved only marginal success.
I thought I arranged it better when my 2nd book was published in 2008. My publisher, another small independent that focused on real estate related books, promised to do advertising and even hire a publicist. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as planned and once again my anticipated success was limited. As with my first book, my percentage of sales was so small that although I did receive royalties from both, neither tipped me into a higher tax bracket at the end of the year.
So, it was exactly because I had two previous experiences with being published, I had no hesitation about publishing my next book in 2013. By this time social media was geared up and allowed authors a way to promote themselves without going on the road. Plus, because Amazon provides free software for those of us who can do-it-ourselves, I didn’t need to sell nearly as many books to match my previous sales. What did I have to lose? Nothing.
Now with four self-published books under my belt, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
1) If I can figure out how to format and publish my writing—so can you! Like so much I’ve learned in my writing career (not to mention life itself), the most important element is persistence. In other words, don’t give up. I’ve always believed that if others could do something, most of the time, so could I. Plus, enormous amounts of suggestions, tips, details, and ideas about how to go about self-publishing now exist all over the internet. If you’ve written anything and want to see it published—now you can.
2) Publishing a book is just another “If Only…” Have you ever told yourself, if only such and such would happen, then I would be happy? If only I won the lottery. If only so and so wasn’t president. If only I could find a better job. If only I could retire. If only I hadn’t done that, or could do that, or whatever—fill in the blank. Any time that phrase comes up, we are using it as an excuse not to do something. We tend to believe that thing, that “if only…” is what’s holding us back. It’s not. It’s us.
In addition, whenever we use that “if only” phrase, we often think that once that thing happens our lives will be perfectly wonderful. I sure did. I thought that once my book was published then I would finally feel like a real writer, be able to call myself a writer, and everyone else would see it too. I was wrong. It actually took three or four more books and a lot of self-work before I was able to feel like my success, even though relatively modest, was mine to celebrate. What I’ve learned in the process is that feelings of success or achievement really flow from the inside out. All those external things we think look good or are necessary, are only window-dressing. Believing we deserve our good is an internal job that only we can fill.
3) It takes longer than you think it will take. Even though this is my fourth self-published book, the process takes longer than you think it will. I suppose if I really pushed it, I could have forced it out faster. But something else I’ve learned along the way is that forcing something seldom comes out better. As it turned out, I came across several studies and ideas that I was able to include in the book because I didn’t finish it until a month or so ago. Not only do I believe the book is better this way, it also made me enjoy the process that much more.
4) The satisfaction and growth you get from formatting and learning to publish are highly beneficial. One thing I’ve learned in the area of positive aging is that the more we challenge our brains the longer they “last” and the better they will continue to serve us. Sure, you can study another language and do crossword puzzles, but trust me, learning to format and publish your own book is excellent exercise for your brain, (not to mention your self-esteem!) So, although I’ve previously formatted three books, the software continues to change and it is a constant learning curve. But like I’ve said before, if I can figure it out, I sincerely believe you can too. Then, when you hold that new creation in your hands, not only do you feel enormously proud of what it contains, but you also know that you added yourself to every single part of it.
5) It will never be completely “done” and never be perfect—but don’t let that stop you. One of my favorite quotes that I routinely tell myself is, “You didn’t come to get it done.” And yes, I’ve written a blog post about it too. But what that reminds me of is that no matter how long I work on something, I could keep changing and tweaking it forever. Would that make it better? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. As every artist and writer knows, the only time your creation is ever really done, is when you decide to stop. It’s that way with self-publishing. Although I’ve been blessed with many great helpers to polish the book, I still know there are bound to be typos or errors that have slipped past so one can never be sure it is perfect. On top of that, there are bound to be critics who don’t like my style or manner of communicating. So, in spite of that, when I hit that “publish” button, I must feel confident enough that it is the words and ideas I share that mean the most, and that I’ve done my best.
Any writer who has ever written anything—and that includes those who write poetry, journal, blog, short stories or novels—every single one of us lives in an exciting time. We have the ability to publish our words and put them out in the world for others to see. The argument, of course, is that self-publishing lowers the bar for quality writing. But I believe the advantage of putting publishing in the hands of everyone is far more valuable than the detriment. Simply put—poor writing or substandard ideas won’t find readers. Water rises to its own level with writing and most things in life.
Oh, and I suppose my final lesson learned is that if you are thinking that publishing a book will make you a lot of money, you might want to try something easier. Sure, there are a couple of people (out of millions) who have published something and made good money. Just like there are a few bloggers (out of millions) making a decent amount of money on their blogs. But, trust me, it isn’t an easy way to make a buck. If you don’t have a passion to share your ideas with others, the required time and energy will probably not be worth the effort.
I personally believe that we are all creative and each of us have something special to share with the world. My something is writing. What gets me up in the morning and keeps me plugging away at my craft is knowing that someone, somewhere, just might pick up one of my books (or read this blog) and find something helpful, inspiring or makes them think. Self-publishing opens that door for me and other writers. Whatever creative gift lies within you, the SMART road is to find a way to share it with others.
Would you like a free copy? I’m going to give away 3 books (either print or Kindle) to 3 people who leave a comment below. (International winners by Kindle only)
Winners will be chosen randomly by Kloe!
Link to Positive Aging: A SMART Living Guide to Thriving & Wellbeing At Any Age on Amazon
Congratulations to the three winners of my new book–Positive Aging: The SMART Living 365 Guide To Thriving and Wellbeing At Any Age. Kloe selected the names of 1) Alison Slade; 2) Haralee Weintraub; and 3) Lisa Listwa. Thank you all for entering!