I am republishing Paper Flowers! I know, exciting isn’t it? If you have watched my youtube video of my announcement then this post will elaborate on things and give you a more in depth look at my decision making process.
The path of how I came to this point is, I think, pretty important. So, for any aspiring writers out there, maybe pay attention? I have some pretty important lessons that I learnt in the last few months that you might need to take heed of.
Back in March I self-published through Amazon KDP, my first novel, Paper Flowers. It was something I’d been toying with for quite a while but I kept talking myself out of it. Self-publishing was an idea that I had a love-hate relationship with for various reasons. I loved it for its intended purpose: a way for authors to maintain creative control over their work. But I hated it for the fact that it allowed the market to be flooded with sub-par works. That is, of course, a completely subjective, opinion, but the truth is self-publishing allows anybody with the ability and funds to publish something they have written. That ease of access in turn invites a certain standard of individual to partake which in turn creates a negative public opinion of the process. That’s something I was highly influenced by and so I barely considered self-publishing an option.
It was the kind of stories I wrote that turned me in the direction of self-publishing. I write a lot of LGBTAIQ* characters. I mean a lot. All of my romance genre novels are gay romance, or queer* romance. But it was my fantasy series that had me stop and think. I have a fantasy series I have been working on since I was ten years old. The characters have all grown and evolved from their original incarnations into who they are now. One character in particular, a very central character to the entire series, spent years trying to tell me they happen to be gay. A fantasy series where one of the main characters is gay is an issue, unfortunately.
I’ve read far too many accounts of authors being told to change the sexuality of their protagonist, or to tone it down, because it wasn’t ‘marketable’ while they are gay. That is, of course, bullshit. It still happens, though. And I’m very protective of Fables of Destiny since I have been working on it for so long, and I am especially protective of the characters as I have built them for over a decade. I’d already spent ages fighting to figure out why this characters’ romantic subplots weren’t working before I realised they are gay, that I didn’t want to have that same fight with potential publishers. I was never going to violate my integrity as a writer for the sake of ‘marketable’ material.
And so I began to look into self-publishing. The idea of making Fables the first book I would publish, though, scared me. I wanted to get to know the industry and what I was doing with a book that was, in a way, less important to me. I hate phrasing it that way, because all of my book are precious to me, but Fables has such a special place in my heart that I didn’t want to risk it just yet. And so I began work on turning an old story of mine (*cough*fanfiction*cough*) into something publishable.
I kept talking myself out of things though and so I would halt my work on what became Paper Flowers and then come back to it when I had convinced myself of the merits again. It got to the point that I didn’t want to talk myself out of it again so I rushed into things.
I. Rushed. Into. It.
I’m cringing as I write this and shaking my head. What was I thinking? Rushing into publishing? What an idiot!
Who rushes into starting a career?
I do, apparently. I made so many mistakes. Let’s list my biggest.
- Minimal research on self-publishing platforms. Basically I guessed Amazon was the best which is so far from the truth it’s laughable. I’m supposed to be smart. What an untruth.
- Minimal research into ISBNs in Australia and ABNs and the benefits of having one and what I could do with one and with the ISBNs.
- No author platform until after I’d decided to do this. Who builds a brand AFTER they start a business? I’m a moron.
- Started when I was fairly broke and couldn’t afford to do things properly. (I mean I’m still trying to figure things out financially, but I’m in a better place now, everything should work a little easier).
- Didn’t spend enough time working transforming Paper Flowers into a publishable and readable book. This was probably my biggest mistake.
I started to think about these mistakes in the weeks after I published and started focusing on my author platform. I also put in weeks of work into planning for the second book in my new romance series. Doing that and writing the first draft made me realise how little effort I’d really put into Paper Flowers and I started to worry about the mistakes I’d already made. I can forgive myself for them because I am still learning, but I should have taken things slower.
I suppose I should be glad I just did it and then became dedicated to do better or I might still be umming and ahhing about the entire thing, so there is that. However, I still wish I’d gone about things a little differently. Nothing can be done about that now, but I can at least make an attempt at fixing my mistakes.
And so, I started that process in May. I created a new look for my social media, an actual brand for myself. I started work on an authortube channel. I researched self publishing platforms and found one that suited me greatly. Then I pulled Paper Flowers from Amazon.
I actually did the proper business things like buying ISBNs, registering for an ABN and business name on the Australian Government websites. I’m all set up as a legitimate sole trader now, it’s fantastic. I feel so… professional. Hah. I have been hard at work on rewriting parts of Paper Flowers, improving it and making it better. This is taking longer than I originally estimated so I don’t have an actual release date at this stage, but I will keep you notified.
I am also working on a marketing strategy. Of course, all my social media is the biggest part of this at the moment, but I am looking into how to approach it best, and what other avenues are open and affordable for me at this stage.
I’m dedicated to making this a proper career. I’ve even outlined business goals and put together a basic business plan. I want to take this seriously and actually be serious about it. I don’t want to be one of those people I spoke about earlier, taking advantage of a system that I respect for its intended purpose. A purpose that plays to me directly in wanting to maintain full creative control over my own work.
I’m doing my best and working as hard as I can to make this as good as possible so that this time around? I can look back on it with a smile and think, yeah, that was a nice way to really kick-off this writing career.
I’ll keep everyone up to date with how the Paper Flowers rewrites are going. Once they’re finished I’ll be back to work on Silk Sheets and The Divide series. I’m excited to push things forward. I’m hoping that in the next five years I can find a way to make writing my full-time job. That would be lovely.
In the meantime! I must write, write, write! Wish me luck!