The Myths of Self-Publishing

Before you go out and try to publish your first book there are few things that you should know. This shit is hard. There are people who will try to sell you things with adds that say they guarantee sales and that you will be able to leave your job in no time. My advice, do your homework. I came across an article about a self-publishing school that will teach you how to have a best seller. There were examples of how a college dropout became rich and now has several bestselling books on places like amazon. Curious, I went to amazon and looked up this man’s books. All of the titles were the same thing, how to become a best-selling author, how to become a successful author, how to make money writing short books, and the list went on and on. He didn’t write the great American novel, or go through the pain of writing a dozen novels in the hopes that one of them would take off, propelling him to stardom. He wrote a book on how to write a book about writing books.
Self-publishing has become a cesspool of predatory scammers who prey on the hopes and dreams of people that want a different life, taking their money with no guarantee of a return. If their system doesn’t work then you must have done something wrong. We have seen this before, the companies that would print your books but you have to sell them and put the work in. While you have boxes of books you were talked into buying, they have your money and eventually the books, like your dreams, rot away.
Sure, there is success. The people who put in the time, the ones that figured out how to build a fan base through other means. There are YouTube stars that are best selling authors now. Podcast host plug their book to an audience they built up over years. There is even a self-publishing podcast with two host, one traditional author and a new indie author that is still working on his first book, that explain how to be a successful author. The catch is the indie author will be a success, he built his fan base over several years and they will buy his book. They plug ideas about spending ungodly amounts of money on advertising, plugging sites you have to pay for to have your book seen, in the meantime the real selling point is the podcast itself.
Either road you take will be hard. You can spend years trying to find an agent or go the self-publishing route finding disappointment with only one or two readers here or there for your books, hi mom. In the meantime, watch out for the scam artist who make promises and try to make you think things are easier than they are.
There was a podcast I used to listen to. The woman had guests on that had become successful in self-publishing and over the years she learned, like her listeners, how to promote books and make a living at self-publishing. I had a conversation with her during a time she was trying to figure out how to monetize her podcast. I said the best way for her to sell a course on self-publishing was to do the work herself. Have a product that shows the process works. She stated that it was too hard, she already tried it and didn’t want to write another book only to be disappointed. Welcome to the world of the writer. Don’t try to sell something that you are unwilling to do yourself. I stopped listening to the show and it went through a renaming, podcasting overhaul, and as far as I know it no longer exist.
Everyone is jumping on this band wagon these days and having your book seen is even harder with a flood of people promised riches while unable to figure out how their world changing vampire manga serial killer romantic thriller isn’t being optioned by every studio on the planet. Here is a lesson for you, write your book for you, edit so that somebody else can read it, and in the end let the readers decide if it’s something they like. In the meantime, work on your next book. Most of the titles you will find on amazon are the only books that person wrote, leaving after their hopes were dashed with nobody lining up to buy it. Your competition is literally a bunch of losers that gave up. If you want to stand out keep on working.
I had some success with one of my first books. I made some money and kept writing. Since then nothing has happened. I have 18 books on amazon and while the majority of them remain unread I keep writing, not for the money or the hopes of becoming the next Hemingway, but because I enjoy it. If you think this is an easy way out of your current situation then get out now, go to Wallstreet, the writing world is not for you. Stay away from the money hungry leeches on the web and hang out with real like-minded people to keep going. Save your money because in this industry everyone is out to take the little that you have.


Golden: part 4

Every morning started out the same, I would awake early having not adjusted to the new time schedule, make coffee and wait for Nick to wake up. For a man in his late sixties, he was always on the go and busy trying to make some deal happen. Breakfast was always at Gilbert’s on Main in downtown Bellevue. Nick and the owner had a history, a story I never heard. The owner was a raging alcoholic who would down a pint of Vodka in a day and couldn’t function in society. Now sober, he owned Gilbert’s, a deli with fresh bread and breakfast meals served inside or on the sidewalk patio. People lined up behind us as we stood in line waiting to see what the specials of the day were.
Ferraris and Lamborghini drove up and down the street with their loud exhaust, older men trying to attract younger women. You could smell the ocean in the air and if you were on the right street one could see the water in the distance. Gilbert’s reminded me of a few delis from my home town, with murals on the wall and young girls working behind the counter. In the back, near the restrooms, there was a wall lined with posters advertising events that would be coming up in the area. On the wall was a shelf of books and one of them stood out. I had never seen a hard cover copy of Kitchen Confidential Even though the book was a best seller on the NY times list it quickly went to soft cover and has continued to sell since. I pulled the book out and discovered it was a first edition. I couldn’t find a price on it and took it back to the table.
“what did you find?” Nick asked as I flipped through the book.
“A first edition of Kitchen Confidential was sitting on the shelf. I have never seen one before.”
Nick waved his friend over. The man looked at us through his glasses that made him look like the mole from A Wind in the Willows. Ni ck asked how much the book was. “Ahhh, it’s free. Keep it. I find stuff and put it over there for the customers to read. They take them home half the time. That’s the point.”
“Are you sure? I have cash.” I said ready to pull out my wallet.
“Nick doesn’t pay here. I tell him that all the time and he still tries to pay regardless. Take the book.” The man turned around and disappeared talking to other customers.
For breakfast I order the Smoked Salmon Scramble and it might have been one of the best breakfast meals I ever had. Fluffy eggs mixed with cream cheese and thin slices of salmon on top was complimented with grilled potatoes. The portions were huge, something you would serve the mountain on Game of Thrones.
After breakfast, we went around town for my supplies stopping at a local market. I picked out shampoo, soap, tooth brush and paste, coffee, post it notes and pens would be needed. Nick purchased the items and we went back to Walden.
“I have a history with Michigan,” Nick said as we drove down the highway. “I was seeing this Jewish girl, her family had more money than you could have imagined. We were supposed to get married and then I met this girl from Michigan. Ever been to Warren?” I shook my head knowing I had never intentionally visited there. “well, I don’t know what you guys are doing up there but I threw away a life time of security to be with her. She was amazing. You should have seen her.” His eyes drifted off longing for the pleasures of long ago. “but if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have my daughter. She is absolutely beautiful. Have I told you about my daughter?”
“No.” she had never come up before.
“I’ll show you a picture when we get back. She is gorgeous, takes after her mother. She moved out to New York and with in the first month she was on a billboard in Manhattan. I tell you she’s going places. Has a few jobs lined up. Maybe you’ll meet her one day.”
Nick only talked about his daughter. I learned over a year later that he had a son from a different marriage but he never talked about him. It was obvious who his favorite was.
His car was starting to act up. Once we pulled into the driveway, I took a look, being the amateur backyard mechanic that I am, and found a puddle under the motor. The red fluid on the ground said it all. “Your transmission has a leak,” I said showing him the pink tint on my finger.
“That son of a bitch. I’ve already had it in. they were supposed to fix that. He’s picking this up and fixing it today. I’m tired of this shit.” This was the first time I had seen Nick lose his temper. It wouldn’t be the last.
Inside Nick had called the garage and the guy was coming out to get the car. We would be driving in Sam’s car for the rest of the day if we went out. That day we didn’t. staying in and getting things ready for that night.
Behind the cabin was a small shack. “I picture that as Walden. I want to clean it out and turning it into a writing retreat. I want the whole cabin to be a retreat for writers like yourself. If you come out here, you’ll have a place to stay with like minded people.” Nick was being honest about his intentions.
I went back and forth about moving never truly thinking about it being a possibility. I had a house with an upside-down mortgage thanks to the 2008 financial crisis. There was all of my stuff and of course finding a job if I did. The $300 a month Nick was paying wasn’t going to cover my bills.
The shack was tiny and I could see there being a small desk and a typewriter inside. It would be something I would inspire to.
Nick took me on a hike that day. We went down the street and found the entrance to the trail. A tiny stream went through, something that flooded when it rained. He said that sometimes lost salmon would find their way up the pitiful stream. Seattle had been experiencing a drought for over a year and wild fires had even become an issue. I remembered reading about the fungus that was killing large numbers of salmon because of the high heat and the lack of water. This was the sixty acres of land that the cabin was built on, a public park.
We found large dead tree trunks from pine trees larger than anything I had seen in Michigan. The bridges appeared new and the trail was kept clean. You could tell that the area was taken care of by either the city or the locals. We emerged from the other side of the trail and Nick said it was the first time he had ever gone the whole way. I find that it is the people who are surrounded by great things who never appreciate them.
Back at Walden I made a pot of coffee, cracked open one of the 20oz beers and started my laptop. It was going to be a long night.