by Louis Bertrand Shalako
All Rights Reserved
As an independent self-published author, my two toughest challenges right now are both big and small.
These are 'Proofreading and Promotion.'
I've been submitting stories all over the place, and in this very tight professional market, it is terribly discouraging to re-read a story and find a missing word or a typo.
While 'writing fast,' has its allure, simply putting the thing away for a day or two might have helped. I have no beta-readers, and in fact had never heard of them before this year.
The dividing line between success and failure can be razor-thin at times. Editors all over the world are looking for any excuse to reject, and to cut down that pile of very professional looking submissions.
In her recent blog post, Kristine Kathryn Rusch says, 'The best promotion is getting your work out there.' (I'm paraphrasing, but that's what she said.)
A story in a professional magazine immediately brings you to the attention of thousands of committed readers.
Promotion is hard for one very good reason: as self published authors, we still don't really know if the work is any good. Without any good reviews, and no feedback from beta readers, it really is a tough thing.
We don't want to make unreasonable claims, and we don't want to be perceived as dishonest, or bad writers, or whatever.
In my own case, simple shyness and lack of confidence makes it hard to ask anyone for a guest post slot.
Why would anyone care what I think? I don't have a big name, I don't have big sales numbers to brag about. I don't even have any track record of success in 'a previous life,' as I have been on a very small pension for about fifteen years. The fact that I was sports editor of a small weekly paper years ago, or wrote a couple of magazine articles along the way, is not particularly impressive or helpful.
The one vital element in all of this is time. I do have something of a head start, with three more novels 'in the can,' enough short stories to keep submitting them, and a few more available to produce another collection this year.
I will put out a pretty good poetry book at some point, and the world will become my oyster.
Over time, the trickle of books that I am selling now will become a flood.