Funny story. Not funny at the time, of course, but let’s laugh at it in retrospect, shall we?
I self-published WILD HORSE HEART in May of 2017. The year of intensity. Seriously, it seems like this year has shaken everything up on every level, but I digress.
So I’d queried the manuscript a bit (the fourth manuscript I shopped around to agents), but no bites. Then my man got laid off from his job, which supports both of us and our twins. Wanting to contribute, I looked at my books, picked the best one, polished it, whipped up a cover, and self-published.
With a background in graphic design, and having self-published non-fiction in 2012, I could do almost everything myself. And I did. In the span of a month.
Note to self: Don’t do that. Ever again.
A month to publish is stupid talk, especially doing everything yourself. It meant too many late nights, too much stress, not enough family time or time in nature. No time to breathe.
Time to breathe is important.
Anyway, so I publish on my birthday (YAY! Happy birthday, now you can freak out all day long about your book!) and one of the people who agreed to receive an ARC posted a review on Amazon in which she made some fabulous points. Points I immediately addressed in the text (because, though her review was positive, I wanted it to be the best book possible). I sent the revision back to her and she loved it—she even changed her review to reflect the changes (which I totally didn’t expect her to do, but OMG did I appreciate it). And, yeah, I could change the text immediately because it’s print on demand.
The beauty of self-publishing is that you can make really-last-minute changes that could’ve been avoided by taking more damn time in the first place and getting more CPs to read it before publishing.
But I wanted to publish it. To help feed my family. Right?
I’ve self-published before, so I really should know better. But I was all like, “Oh yeah, I’ll do podcasts and guest blogs and book parties and…”
No. What I did was have a full-blown panic attack on the night of my birthday. What if someone didn’t like it? What if they thought I was a horrible person? What if the book wasn’t as good as I thought? What if nobody read it?
It was the worst panic attack I’ve ever had, one that somehow lasted through my fitful sleep and straight on till morning. Fun, right?
Oh, and get this, I suffered through that all-night panic attack alone, because my man had gotten another job that started the day before my announced publishing date. He works away. And now the reason I rushed publishing was non-existent.
So I published, and had my panic attack quietly by myself, and the book was well received by those who read it, with some great reviews. (Hooray!)
But even the best reviews made me anxious. I had to stop looking at them.
In fact, after publishing, my adrenals were so shot I needed to go to sleep at the same time as my kids for a month (they’re 3). I didn’t promote. I left guest-post opportunities hanging and a ton of barely implemented marketing plans hanging. I was so burnt out I couldn’t even write.
And I needed to get back to writing. Desperately. That is always the answer to making things better for me. Self care and writing.
It’s taken six months for me to want to get back to promoting this book that I absolutely love. Six months to have enough distance that I’m not afraid of being published, of being out there. Six months to get over the burnout caused by trying to do it all myself (with some super-supportive writing friends cheering me on).
This time, I think I’ll tackle promotion in little bits, balancing it with my WIP. Because, as much as I love the stories I’ve already written (and WILD HORSE HEART is a great one), the act of creation is what feeds my soul.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes, in this endeavour and many others, but at least I’ve learned from them. I’ve recovered, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished nonetheless. I’m glad I’m in the position to laugh at myself a little for the panic I went through publishing my book. Maybe next time I’ll be more prepared. (Even if I still panic. lol!)