In 51 days and approximately 12 hours my first novel will be going on sale on Kindle.
Even typing the words almost gives me heart palpitations. It’s possibly the scariest thing I’ll ever do. For most people it might be sky diving, or bungee jumping – for me taking the plunge will be the mouse click that will submit my manuscript to Amazon.
In the weeks since I made the decision to do this I’ve swung between thinking this is the greatest thing I could, and the most stupid mistake I could make. And I think I’ll still be oscillating between the two on the day I hit the button.
But I’m still going through with it.
Because I have nothing to lose – or at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
Firstly I tell myself that self-publishing doesn’t have the stigma attached to it that it once did. After all, it used to be that self-publishing was synonymous with vanity publishing. It was something people did when they couldn’t do it the traditional way, and they just wanted to see their names in print.
I think there might still be an element of that involved, but it’s evolved. The publishing industry has changed. It’s a different beast.
The editors and Literary agents are no longer the gatekeepers. They don’t have the same power as they once did to tell us what we should, or shouldn’t read. The power has shifted into the hands of the reader. And with digital publishing making it easier than ever to get your book out there, more and more authors are taking the risk of letting the reader decide.
I’m taking that risk. After all, as I said, I have nothing to lose. I could spend the next ten years fighting to get my manuscript seen by an agent or an editor, fighting because it’s always just going to be stuck in that slush pile. Fighting because the people reading it have almost made their decision before they’ve even read the first line. And I don’t blame them – not really. They are a business, an industry that’s struggling, why take a risk, and risk money, on an untried and unknown author? With as much industry knowledge as they have, even they can’t be 100% sure of what will be the next big thing. So I could spend years of my life desperately trying, and getting nowhere. Not necessarily because I’m not good, but because I’m not exactly what they’re looking for, or because, quite frankly, I suck at writing queries.
Or I can take the plunge, take the risk and let the reader decide. I can let the people out there with their Kindles decide if my book is something they want to read or not. It’s not going to cost me anything, so if I sell ten books, or I sell ten thousand (though even in my wildest dreams I know that’s unlikely to happen) it doesn’t matter financially. I haven’t spent a penny.
But I don’t need to sell ten thousand books (though it would be nice). I don’t even need to sell ten books. I just need to sell one. I just need one person to read this book and enjoy it. For it to make them laugh, or cry. For it to touch them in some tiny, but significant, way. I am not a writer of great literature, I know that, I am a writer of stories, good ones I hope. But the only way I can ever know that is if people read them.
I may not be the next big thing, but I don’t need to be. I just need to take this risk – for me, so that I know that at least I tried. Even if I fail.
And if I fail, it’s not like I’ll stop writing. I can’t. I have to write. It’s in my blood.
So the countdown begins. Succeed or fail at least I can say I tried. And that is all I can ever do.