This post was written by Molly Fennig, Teen Author and blogger at mollyfennig.com. Her self-published book, INSOMNUS is now available on Amazon.
When I was 13, I got a typewriter from my great uncle. I remember sitting on the lime green carpet of my bedroom and listening to the clack of keys and feeling like I had to write something. So I started my first novel.
It was horrible. It took 3 years to get to 40,000 words. There was no ending, no plot, no real main character, and yet it gave me something I never had before- the knowledge that I could write a book.
If I, at 13, could write a book on an old typewriter with no backspace key, you can too.
So, anyway, after that, I buckled down. In 6-8 months during my junior year of high school, I completely rewrote the story (it was only loosely based on it's hideous cousin, the original).
I was taking creative writing at the time and my teacher, Nasreen Fynewever, talked about working in speaking and publishing. So I went to her, not even knowing publishing was something I could do, especially as a 17-year-old.
At this point, my mom was the only one who had seen it and knew it existed. The thought of everyone being able to read it freaked me out.
I could do public speaking. I could talk in front of thousands of people. But sharing the intimate experience of exploring a fantasy world I had spent forever creating? Any bit of which could be read into as a reflection of myself (and any bit of which could have been a reflection of myself)? Scary.
So I get it. It's scary to share your writing, your thoughts, your voice, with the world. But it's scarier to regret not doing it.
Here's the thing. My goal was never to be a best selling author at 17. I knew it wouldn't happen. My goal wasn't even to make money (even if it did happen). My goal was to be a published author. To see my name on the front cover of a book, to hold the pages in my hands. And I did that.
And I can't tell you how amazing it is to open that first box of books and see your name on stacks of covers and you know you are the reason that stack exists.
When you look up self-publishing, you'll likely see it in comparison to traditional publishing. Both are great, but both are not for everyone. Without self-publishing, I couldn't have published at 17. I would've been much older by the time the book came out. I couldn't have gotten the exact (*awesome*) cover I wanted, nor learned as much about the publishing industry as I did.
I couldn't have guaranteed to get a publishing deal, even after getting an agent. I wouldn't have controlled Kindle giveaways that boosted my sales, nor blogged about my self-publishing experience which connected me with other teen writers.
Most of all, I wouldn't have gotten the feedback I did about the book which helped me write my next book, not only in less time, but without the mistakes of the first. I never would have known these things had it sat on my computer all this time.
I also wouldn't have been able to self-publish without companies like Tree District Books. I hired someone to find a graphic designer for my cover and an editor and to do the formatting for my book. As much as I could have spent hours and hours Googling and watching YouTube and experimenting, it's great to be the writer and focus on the writing. It's great to not have to worry I'll mess up all the formatting and no one will be able to read it, even after they buy it. It's great to get advice from people who do this all the time, especially when I never have, and it's a project that means so much to me.
In terms of the nitty-gritty, for those wondering, I used Createspace and published exclusively through Kindle to get count-down deals and discounts. (If you promise to only sell through Kindle they let you sell the e-book for free or reduced for a certain period of time to boost sales every so often). Now that Kindle owns Barnes and Noble, however, you can also get my book through Barnes and Noble. I did all my own marketing, which is definitely something to put money into if you can't put time into. I (obviously :) ) have a twitter, created a Facebook page, and wrote and newspaper article about my book release, which was published. (And I did all this for free.) I have a post on A Teen Writer’s Book Marketing Strategy if you'd like to learn more about my marketing plan, especially since marketing is something you have to take on no matter which way you publish.
All in all, are there things I would change about my book now? Yep. Have I grown a lot as a writer, probably a large part because I published? Yep. Will I self-publish the next one? I don't know, but it sure wouldn't be a bad route to go :)
If you liked this post, please subscribe to my blog (on the toolbar on the left-hand side) and check out my book on Amazon and feel free to contact me through my website with any comments, questions, concerns, frustrations, etc. Part of what I love as an author is meeting other writers!