Friday, November 18, 2011


Today’s guest blogger joining me for the Lessons Learned in Self-Publishing is Rick Bylina, author of ONE PROMISE TOO MANY and A MATTER OF FAITH. Like myself, Rick is swimming in the waters of self-publishing, learning to navigate. Please welcome Rick.

I want an agent. I want to have a New York publishing company distribute my novels to the widest audience. I want a major global marketing campaign to match the universality of the messages in my novels. I want Oprah to discover me, to dance with Ellen, to talk with Barbara Walters in a one-on-one interview, and to have Good Morning America make me a household name in ten minutes or less. I want every Santa Claus to sidle up to every mother of a kid in line and suggest my book for the adults on their shopping list. I want a lot, but what I'm left with as a self-publisher of my own novels is this: me.

The lesson I learned from self-publishing is that the dream of control over your published novel comes with the responsibility to manage that control, especially if you want to be successful. And the first step is identifying what you consider is success.

For some, just publishing the novel is success enough--the stick in the eye of the establishment. After 527 rejections, that's a huge motivation for me. But the truth is, after each rejection, the novels got better until I reached a point where suggestions for improvement dried up and a few innocent grammatical fixes remained. Those are issues every novel has sprinkled through it and are wiped away during the publishing process, part of the evolutionary reason for its existence. My errors have been identified and are being washed away with updates in November.

For others, having family and friends celebrate their publication is enough. I just had my first Book Launch Party. I wrote about it on Calamity's Corner and the fun that over 100 friends and family had at the gathering. Celebrating success is important. You should absolutely do that. You deserve it.

For most of us, the dream is larger, and therein lies the rub. Are you prepared to make your dreams of success come true? Whether your goal is to earn enough to buy a latte, a computer, or make writing your new profession, lay out a plan BEFORE you publish. Plot the incremental steps necessary to reach your goal. Figure out BEFOREHAND the time you will need to market your book and don't underestimate it. Identify the key resources UPFRONT to help you reach your goal. Learn from those who have gone before you. Being prepared can lead to success.

I'm not going to rehash all the ways there are to market your book. Free information is out there. Books identifying the keys to self-publishing success are available. Websites float suggestions. Some are helpful; some are plain BS. I'm writing about the commitment to do the marketing for the self-published book and to get the message out there that you have arrived and are worthy of attention. 

After the initial flush of success as friends and family drink up your book, don't get cocky. That is the first port in a long voyage. Identifying the steps along that voyage to success IS the first step before you throw your book into the sea of self-published books and end up drowning because you forgot to pack your water wings.

I am an agent, publisher, marketeer, promoter, and adult whisperer in large shopping malls that my book is just as good as a traditionally published novel. And it is. Don't whine, don't despair, just plan ahead to dedicate the time necessary to achieve your success. Oh, and buy my book!

-Rick Bylina
The only rule:  writers write! Everything else is a guideline.
Tweet at: @rickbylina

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