When I first considered writing children’s picture books, I envisioned myself at a desk with my laptop or a notebook/pen feverishly creating whimsical rhymes that would later become fabulous bestselling books. That dream still exists, but the reality is that an author is so much more.
What I have discovered during the past year is that in addition to being an author, I am also a:
- marketing person
- sales person
- web master
If you want to become a successful author, you need to be able to promote yourself, you need a website, and you need to connect with others in your field.
You don’t have to wear all of those hats, but you’ll increase the likelihood of your success (or so I’m told) if you get all those elements in place. You could hire a team to help you; but given that you may not have any income rolling in, the impetus to “do-it-yourself” can be rather strong.
I have opted to do as much as I can on my own. The areas that I am attempting to do on my own are:
- updating and maintaining my website
- researching how to market my book to parents of teenagers/young adults
- networking with other authors and illustrators to better understand the industry
- finding a publisher for my book
In those areas where I am lacking skills where the learning curve is great, I have hired others to help me out:
- My beautiful website was designed by Denise Hill at Posh Daisy. I could never have pulled off such a gorgeous site on my own.
- I hired an editor through KN Literary Arts to help me write my book proposal and edit my book.
The money was well spent considering the time it would have taken me to accomplish the same thing on my own.
Not all hats fit the same
Not all the hats you choose to wear are going to fit comfortably. Hats that fit well are those things you do well; those tasks that are in your wheelhouse. Hats that do not fit as well are those things where you have to stretch and improve your knowledge.
Given my technical engineering background, I am much more comfortable dealing with my website than I am being a sales person or a marketing person. Because those latter tasks are not in my wheelhouse, insecurity creeps in. Many of the things I do require research and trial and error. For me, this invokes a lot of self doubt. Am I doing this right? Am I going to embarrass myself? What if I fail?
Probably the biggest frustration with doing it yourself is how incredibly time consuming it all is.
This past week, I spent at least 3 days talking to technical support for my website. I have a technical background so you’d think it wouldn’t be that difficult; but honestly, I was ready to pull my hair out! In the beginning, they told me the problem was mine, but 5 technical support people later, it turned out the problem was theirs, and they were working on resolving it as fast as they could. Gee, it would have been nice if they had told me that on day one!
Options other than doing it yourself
With regards to publishing one’s book, one could opt to self-publish. To help you accomplish this, you could hire a “book shepherd” to help you every step of the way.
A book shepherd will walk you through the entire process from cover art design, editing, find a printer, dealing with Amazon, and some will even help you create your brand so you can market yourself and your product. This can alleviate a lot of the worry and free up your time so you can continue your writing.
Self-publishing houses also offer packages of varying sizes to accomplish the publishing of your book. The more money you’re willing to spend, the more the packages will encompass, and the less you have to figure out and do on your own.
E-books also are another option. Places like Smashwords or Lulu will help you to create an e-book and distribute the e-book on various reading devices. I think this is a great option for people who have written novels. Books with illustrations are a little more problematic as the layout of the book with pictures and text is trickier. That said, Amazon came out with a children’s book creator app to help you create books for the Kindle. I haven’t tried it yet because, sadly, I’m not much of an illustrator but it’s something I’ve kept in the back of my mind for future projects.
Sizing your hat
If you too have found that you must wear multiple hats in your life and some hats fit worse than others, do not despair! I have found that as I learn and try out more things, I am more comfortable as I go. It goes back to that growth mindset. Don’t let lack of knowledge and fear keep you from taking something on. Your brain is capable of growing and expanding and as it does, those hats that seemed so big in the beginning fit better and better as time goes on.