Writing Life

What Will My Book Career Look Like?


Recently I’ve been doing a lot of research into the self-publishing industry. First, because I have made a handful of author friends who are self-published and I want to know more about the process. Secondly, because I might consider it for myself someday.

I certainly won’t know if it is something I might be interested in unless I do my homework.


A lot of bloggers and self-pub writers talk about their career plan. For so many, it is clear that this is something carefully curated and taken care of. They have done extensive research and it shows. A ton of love and attention is put into their swag, their covers, their websites, and their deadlines for book releases. All of this takes months and months of planning and anticipation.

After dipping my feet into the pool of self-pub research for a month one thing was evident: The amount of work and the timeline to get that work done is, quite frankly, staggering. After all, for some self-publishing is a career and writers should be thinking about their output one to two years ahead.

My research led me to think about my own goals and ultimately made myself ask the big question: What do I want my writing career to look like?

For a long time, I put off thinking about the self-publishing route because I wanted to concentrate on trying to get an agent. That was the career I had envisioned for myself for so long.

Now, years later, it is looking like my novel is not the right fit for the traditional market and I’m at a crossroads between two possible career options; self-publishing and traditional publishing.

It feels like a choice between one or the other, but that’s not right. A few self-pub authors can get traditionally published (E.L. James), and a few traditional authors have decided to do self-publishing (Rachael Arron Bach).  There is also another option, small indie publishers who take the chance on niche ideas.

I have recently made a big writing career decision. I’m going to have a professional editor look at my manuscript.  This is an idea I’ve only toyed with for a long time for two reasons. Because I was afraid and it is expensive. BUT if I do decide to self-publish it would help bring my novel closer to that goal. And at the very least it could help make my manuscript cleaner for an agent.

So I started looking, found some people who sounded promising and got their deadlines. This is when I got the first hint to how these timelines would affect me and my novel. Most of the editors are booked until May (nearly 3 months away!) Whoa.

Remember how I said Self-pub authors need to look one-two years ahead. I’m starting to see why.  Finding an editor, planning blog tours and release dates, these are all things a committed self-pub author should consider well in advance.  One has to take into consideration the time making editorial corrections, how long cover artists might take, and when you want to start campaigning for your book before release date.

The mode of publishing isn’t what scares me, at the end of the day I wrote a book and that is pretty damn cool. (Sometimes, we all need a reminder that finishing a novel is not an everyday achievement.)

What I’m nervous about it doing right by my story, which has been residing in my heart for 7 years. I know it can be something special, I just need to find the audience who sees what I see. I’m also nervous about doing what’s right for myself. Which means, I need to take my writing career seriously.

What does this mean exactly? 
– Research Self Publishing More
– Decide WHERE I want to be in one or two years
– Start setting goals

That’s all I can do for now.

This post doesn’t offer any advice, except maybe for those struggling with the same decisions to know that they aren’t alone. The act of putting your novel out into the world is scary, and all authors feel that way.

I’m not alone.

You’re not alone.

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