I think the biggest surprise I found about writing and publishing my books has been the discovery that I am responsible for doing the marketing of my work. Before taking the first step on this writing journey, I wasn’t aware that the authors were actually responsible for the marketing of their books. I watch Castle. Don’t all authors get sent on book tours by their publishers and get massive advances to live on while they write? That answer would be ‘NO’. I found that even traditional publishers want the authors to do the promotion for their work. I’ve found some who will not even consider your submission unless you can show them that you have at least 1500 connections on social media. Some want to see more. I thought my books would be going into stores like Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. NO. There are actually very few brick and mortar bookstores any longer. They’ve gone the way of the white rhino. If I want my books in bookstores, I have to pound the pavement and beg indie bookstore owners to put my books on their shelves. I have to supply them with the books at my own expense and only get paid a 60% cut when the book sells. I’ve even found some small stores that require the author to pay them a fee to consider my books. Very discouraging. If your traditional publisher is not hooked up with Ingram, your book will not find much in the way of distribution. It will be available on Amazon and be featured on the publisher’s website, but that is about it. Most small publishers only sell by way of Kindle. Your book will not be available in a hard copy unless the e-book does VERY well. At least your book is available to reader in paper when you self-publish. You are probably wondering why the hell anyone would go through the trouble of trying to be traditionally published these days? It’s so we have the privilege of calling ourselves ‘a published author’. ‘Self-published author’ still has the stink of the vanity press attached to it. You could only get your book published by paying to have it done. Winning a contract with even a small press allows the author that prized title of ‘published’. It seems petty, but there it is. We all want that as authors. We want to be able to say we’re ‘published’. Petty, but true.
I suppose the other thing I found surprising was how I could channel my stress and frustrations away with my writing. I can put myself so deep into my story that I feel like I’m actually there. I’m wearing the clothes, eating the food, and shooting the jackasses. It can be very satisfying and takes me away from my boring regular life. I’m not sitting on my couch with my laptop, but in a stage, traveling through the dusty west with desperados chasing us. Fun stuff!
It really surprised me that after writing about running through swamps or doing other strenuous activities, I would be physically tired. I spoke to some other authors about this and found that our brains experience that physical activity even though we aren’t actually physically doing the activity and it tires the body. When I spend the day writing and have my characters doing strenuous activities, I’m worn out. I never noticed that when simply reading such things, but writing has that effect. Other authors have confirmed this. The brain is a funny thing.