3 Self-Publishing Mistakes I’ve Made

A little over a year ago, I published–with much fear and trembling–my broken fairy tale collection, Shattered. (I felt sick to my stomach after I clicked the Publish button. If it hadn’t been for the fact I’d had other people working with me on it, I’d have unpublished it within the first few minutes.)

Since that time, I’ve gone on to self-publish a few more books and made some mistakes along the way (which I did so you don’t have to!). So, without further ado, I present my top 3 self-publishing mistakes (cue the trumpets).

The Downside of Diversifying

Earlier in the year, I talked about putting my eggs into lots of little baskets rather than the one big one (*cough* Amazon*cough*). To that end, I’ve started serializing my science fantasy novel, Quartz, and written short stories for specific anthologies and magazines. Unfortunately, this meant that I haven’t published an e-book since the launch of Mourning Cloak, at the end of January. Once Mourning Cloak fell off the recent releases lists on Amazon, sales dried up (Ouch, April. Ouch.)

Solution: I should be publishing an e-book (novel, novella, short story, collection) every 2-3 months. Right now, I’m working on a follow-up to Shattered. The fairy tales I’m breaking? Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid.

Scared of Sequels

I’m not a sequel writer.

There, I said it.

I know, I know. I’m a fantasy writer. But still.

I write a novel or short story or novella and instead of reusing my world or my cast, I simply move on and build another world and cast from scratch. Barring a handful of short stories featuring the same character, I don’t do sequels.

But readers like sequels. They ask me for them. I’m thrilled that they’re so invested in my characters that they want more of their story, but I’m terrified of breaking the first story or disappointing my readers’ expectations.

That’s a block I need to get over.

Solution: I wrote the first draft (zero draft) of a follow-up novella to Mourning Cloak. I’m determined to get Ironhand into shape and out to the world by late summer/early fall. After that, I’m going to write Flare, the sequel to Quartz. Once the sequels are out of the way, then I’m going to give myself permission to play in a new world (looking at you, Riven!).

Low Productivity

It’s a rare author who hits it out of the ballpark with their first book. In the indie world, especially, most writers are successful because of their big backlists.

I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I was tracking my raw first-draft numbers. They aren’t impressive.

Look, I’m going to be brave and post them up here:

  • January: 5,661 words (really pathetic)
  • February: 16,683 (much better)
  • March: 13, 817 (okay, why’d I backslide here??)
  • April: 15, 533 (and this after being sick and undisciplined for the first half of the month!)
  • May: 10, 548 (better than January, in spite of going to a con, testing for school, and getting ready for vacation).

Ideally, I’d like to write 25K worth of raw first draft words a month (a half-NaNo).

Solution: All right, this is the tricky part, isn’t it. Sure there are all sorts of motivational tricks to get you writing, but what it all comes down to is this: How much of my other activities am I willing to give up to make this happen? How much is writing worth to me right now?

Is it worth giving up sleep over? Worth giving up the time I spend researching, thinking about, and doing school with my children? Worth giving up my RSS feed and Dr. Who episodes for?

It’s a decision that’ll be different for everyone. For me–well, I’ve done NaNo. I know what it is to breathe, eat, sleep your story. I know what it’s like to have it spin through your head constantly and how hard it is to emerge from the story zone. And that’s not what I want in my life right now. I have young kids who deserve a mom who’s not checked out for most of the day. I can give a few hours a day to writing, but I can’t let it take over my life like that.

Simply put, writing isn’t my day job. Mothering/homeschooling is. It’s within these limits that I need to work on increasing my productivity (which I’m not doing too badly with now that we’re back from Disney and it’s summer vacation).

What about you? If you’re a self-publisher, what mistakes have you made? What mistakes have you seen other self-publishers make?


My guest post, Balancing Act: On Raising Both a Family and a Writing Career, is up on FableCroft Publishing’s blog. Come share your tips on fitting your writing into your family life!

Also, I’m working with Kellie of ReaWrite Reviews to get some more publicity for Rainbird. If you’re interested in receiving a review copy, please fill out this form.

I’m seeing a lot of recipes from my fellow WANA bloggers in my RSS feed. Like for instance, these salmon, lime and mint patties (gluten-free) and this yummy pecan-topped dessert (not gluten-free and probably not the most health-conscious *grin*).

I’m most of the way to my 1500-word goal for today. How are the rest of you NaNo and NaNo-lite peeps doing?


It’s November 1st.

And we all know what that means, right? National Novel Writing Month!

Yep, it’s time for that annual madness when thousands of writers from all across the world attempt to write a 50,000-word novel (or part of a novel) in 30 days. If you listen carefully, you can hear the click-clack of thousands of fingers flying over thousands of keyboards.

It’s an exciting, heady time.

Once upon a time, before I homeschooled… or had children… or a big house to clean… or a job… I attempted and won NaNoWriMo (and I will forever love the book I got out of it: my first novel, The Changeling). Nowadays, though, NaNo just seems a recipe for burnout and exhaustion.

However, I am inspired to set and reach for some personal writing goals this month–just not as crazy as NaNo’s. Liv Rancourt calls this NaNo-lite. It sounds healthier, at least. :D

The goal: 25,000 words on my current WIP

The daily breakdown: David’s handy self-adjusting wordcount tool (WriteTrack) tells me that I only need 800 words a day, with 1500 words on Saturdays and Thanksgiving Day off (I rounded the numbers). I got 872 words today, which puts me a wee bit ahead.

The project: Rafe and Isabella are baaaack! Flare is the sequel to Quartz, picking up two years after the end of the first book. I’ve never written a sequel before (yes, True Confessions of a Fantasy Writer). I figured I could use the exercise–plus I need to know how these kids are going to save the world! (Okay, they’re not kids, but I’m the lofty writer, so I get to call them whatever I want… er, hi, Isabella *grins nervously*).

Who’s doing NaNo? Who’s doing NaNo-lite?

And who wants some Halloween candy? I have plenty left over. *eyes heaping basket warily*

sunday update

I haven’t done a Sunday update in a while. Last time I checked in here with my stats, Kai’s book stood at 69, 616 words. Now it’s at 76, 482 words. Progress!

How about you?

sunday update

Kai’s book (total): 69,616 words
Kai’s book (new): 1,494 words

I’m taking a break from writing Kai’s book to work on other things. I wrote a 1600-word short story, tweaked the synopsis of Quartz, and began writing an outline of Kai’s book as a road map for getting to THE END. We’re taking the upcoming week off from school (if the public schools are doing it, so will we!) and my writing plan is a healthy mix of submission-type things and for-fun things. More on this later.

Also, some folks over on the HtTS/HTRYN boards have started a Write a Book With Me blog, where you can post your daily wordcounts, and get support and accountability from other writers. They’re holding a contest with a fun prize to inaugurate the new blog, so check it out.

sunday update

Kai’s book (total): 68,122 words
Kai’s book (new): 4,250 words

sunday update

We’ve been passing a cold around our family this past half-week. It’s my turn now, blech.

However, in spite of it all, I did get words!

Kai’s novel (total): 63,872 words
Kai’s novel (new): 4, 158 words

I also got 700+ words worth of notes on a story idea (not Secret Project, but another project—Secret Project 2?) when a character popped into my head and started talking. When Right Brain dictates, I transcribe. Simple as that.

I took yet another stab at writing a synopsis of Quartz. This time I went hunting for some how-to tips, and came upon this post by Diana Peterfreund which led me to these workshops by Kathy Carmichael, and the result is that I’m much happier with my current draft. It still needs a lot of work–which I was going to do tonight–but *sigh* I might just stay in bed and nurse my cold and save my energy for school tomorrow.

How’s your writing coming along?

sunday update

Has it really been two weeks since my last update? Yow. January’s gotten away from me, obviously.

Progress on the writing front has been decent. No spectacular wordcounts, but I’m exceeding my 550-word daily goal (except for on Saturdays) by at least a couple hundred words. The writing is very slow since I’m groping about in the dark, thinking only a scene at a time, working with two new characters and an explosion of information (some of it contradictory :P) about the world’s magic, technology and creatures.

Kai (total): 59, 714 words
Kai (new): 8561 words

How’s your writing coming along?

sunday update

Kai (total): 51, 153
Kai (new words): 6,320

This week I discovered I need to schedule a day off every week, just for my own sanity. I don’t always have to take one, of course, but it’s nice to have it set aside, especially since fatigue has dogged me all week.

I also added in an unexpected POV, which will be fun to work with. I’m almost halfway there, and I’m almost out of planned scenes. Major brainstorming penciled in for this week, along with coming up with a few more honorifics for my languages and some thought given to religious practices. Hard thinking work.

How about you? Any progress on the writing front?

sunday update

Kai (total words): 44,833
Kai (new words): 4,340

I took too many days off this week. Time to get serious! Nose, meet grindstone. You’ll be seeing a lot of each other this year.