In this post, hybrid author Jane Lebak gives advice from her traditional-publishing experience that can be applied equally well to self-publishing.
I was frozen. I’d done my research. I’d spoken to my agent. I’d checked my contracts. I’d even gone as far as getting a business license, but now I was stuck. I needed to buy ISBNs.
For two days, I’d looked at my list and found other things to do, but really, I needed to buy my ISBNs. I had a business bank account. I had money in it. What I needed was to go over to Bowker and give them money in exchange for the numbers.
“I can’t,” I said to my Patient Husband. “Every time I get almost to that point, I freeze. Because buying the ISBNs is the point of no return.”
Once I did that, I figured I couldn’t double back anymore. I’d be committed.
My Patient Husband said, “You need to do one scary thing every day.”
Of course I was scared. I’d prepared extensively because I was taking my writing career seriously, but that meant doing the things I’d prepared to do. I needed to be willing to fail in a very big, very public way.
The next day, I said, “Okay, buying ISBNs is scary. So I’m going to do it, and then I don’t have to do it again.”
I did it. And after I’d done it, it wasn’t scary anymore. But I took the rest of the day off anyway.
The next day, I made myself an IngramSpark account. Again, it was scary to enter in sixteen-digit numbers (or longer ones) but after I did it, I was done. The day after that, I made myself a KDP account, but that was less scary than it had been the day before, so I went on to do something else scary instead.
When you’re writing for publication, you’re going to find yourself right at the edge of your comfort zone more often than you ever thought, sometimes on the wrong side of the fence. In the story itself you’re going to find yourself writing deep and touching emotions you never wanted out in the daylight. Then comes editing. And getting beta-readers. And reading your beta-readers’ responses. And making those changes. And asking for help with your query letter. And then sending your query to agents.
Eventually you have to open the responses you get from agents. Sometimes reading those is scary, especially when you really like an agent and hope she likes you back. How about phone calls with agents? Those will scare you too at first. Signing your first agency contract? Terrifying. And then going on submission. Going through the publication process. Reading reviews. Writing your next novel.
If you had to do all those scary things at once, you’d think your life was a horror movie. So instead: one scary thing every day. When you’re terrified, motivate yourself with, “Good. This is my scary thing.” The next time you face the same task, you’ll find it’s not so scary any longer.
(Except for reading reviews. Those are still scary. I get a friend to read them first.)
And then give yourself a little breather afterward. “I’ve done my scary thing. I don’t have to be scared again for a little while.”
Jane Lebak talks to angels, cats, and her kids. Only the angels listen to her, but the kids talk back. She lives in the Swamp, writing books and knitting socks, with the occasional foray into violin-playing. You’ll also find her blogging at QueryTracker.net, a resource for writers seeking agents and small publishers.