Five years in as an indie author
Alledria Hurt (guest writer)
Self-publishing, what do I know about it now five years in?
This is a massively rewarding and also soul-sucking choice in life. I say that with every bit of sarcasm I can muster. I both elate in and despise being my own boss. I started self-publishing almost on a whim back in 2014 with my first book of short stories, Objects: Stories of Things. I did not anticipate acclaim. That publication was an experiment. Breaking ground as it were for the things that would come later. I don’t promote it now, though some of the short stories have gone on to become attached to other projects since I own the copyright and thus can farm them out as reprints whenever the thought strikes me.
Alledria Hurt and Adam Messer
Before I did this, I did the usual thing. I wrote novels and tried to get them traditional representation. That road led to a great deal of despair and more than a little self-loathing as I piled up rejections. I won’t tell you how many. Suffice to say I have a thin skin and do not take rejection well. My first novel came out in 2015 after being roundly rejected a number of times. At the time , Chains of Fate, was my favorite book. Not the only book I had written, but my favorite. There’s a book I wrote first called Rain, but that one will never see the light of day for personal reasons. I have left instructions in my will to have it burned unread. What I learned from Chains of Fate are two things. One, turning a standalone novel into a series can be both rewarding and horrible. Two, giving in to your fans, even when that fan is your mother, can be a recipe for heartbreak. You see, Chains was a one-off, a standalone. Then my mother, whom I love dearly, decided she had to know what happened next. At first, I stood adamant there was no next. The story was complete. After many months of her insistence, I wrote Blades of Fate which would come out in 2017. Immediately after finishing Blades, I knew there was no way it could be considered wrapped up, so I wrote Ruins of Fate, the final installment of the series which also came out in 2017. So now, where I had one book, I have three. She wants a fourth. I have refused, in no uncertain terms, to do more stories with those characters.
Since I’ve been self-publishing, I have realized it still takes a village to do this. While I am my own boss so to speak, I am also occasionally someone else’s boss who is assisting me in making this happen. I don’t have a standing editor, but I have worked with a few. I don’t have a standing cover designer. I have worked with a few of those as well. In each instance, my one person shop has had to make room for someone else with their own deadlines and their impact on my work. That being said, scheduling is a wonderful practice one should adopt post-haste. I am the poster child for missed deadlines. Mental health problems often lead to me not being able to be as consistently productive as I would like. Therefore, if I’m going to use an editor or a cover designer, I generally wait until I have already finished the project to book them. Several of my friends, other authors in the biz, will book their editor spaces well ahead of their project and then work to that deadline. Go with what works for you, but do it.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, look after yourself. Over the course of the last five years, I have dealt with multiple medical problems, some of them exacerbated by my work habits. I’m a diagnosed Bipolar Schizoaffective, which means I have schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Both of these get aggravated by stress. Guess what gives me stress? Deadlines. Plot lines that don’t want to work the way I want. Pressure to succeed. All stressors for me. I have been both on and off medication. Life generally works better for me if I’m on meds. I forget this with frightening regularity and then get reminded by others who have to watch me meltdown over something inconsequential. Look after you. Your brain, and the body which goes along with it, are your most valuable resource in this game. If you don’t have the ability to hold it together, you are doing yourself a disservice.
All in all, I have appreciated my journey into self-publishing and look forward to what I will learn as I foray deeper into the wilds of the publishing landscape. I am currently working on a shared universe story for a publisher and seeking representation for some of my other novels even while self-publishing more of them.
Alledria Hurt is a writer/actress/cat mom who lives in Savannah GA with her husband and two cats. She can be found most readily at Alledria@alledriahurt.com . All of her books are available through Amazon and some can be found on other fine retailers.