About a year ago I decided to become an independent writer. For me the word independent has many connotations, both positive and negative. It makes me think of being alone, an absence of support, a need for resilience and a determination that can only come from me. But it also makes me think of freedom, being in control, and having an influence over my own creativity.
As with many things in life, you have to face the fear of the negative in order to achieve the positive, and for this project it was a case of putting one foot in front of the other, powering through the fear. The practical application of this was an elaborately bullet-pointed list using a variety of headings and sub-heading, and included anything from proof-reading and formatting of the manuscript itself, to the marketing aspects, setting up a website, getting author photos, etc. In short, anything I needed to do to start taking myself seriously as a writer and a business.
I’ve already documented the various wrong paths I’ve traveled down, the time wasted and the sleep-reducing frustrations, but when it came to it, all the months of preparation finally condensed itself into a couple of days last week. Probably less than that. Half a day for the website to go live (all the pages had been written and re-written over the past few months, so it was just a case of double checking and smoothing out the aesthetics). Then it took precisely five and a half hours to upload the book itself onto Kindle.
I sat with The Editor in her attic office, following the instructions on the KDP website and drinking coffee. The process of uploading and previewing was time consuming and confusing, and much of the time we felt we were only half understanding the process, but once we realised that between our two partially functioning brains we actually had a whole one, things seemed to fall into place. A quick health warning for anyone interested in doing this themselves — the US tax questionnaire and international banking details aren’t as intimidating as they sound.
Once all the computer work was completed there was nothing else to do but drink a glass of bubbly and wait. Amazon said it would be twelve hours before the book would go live, but in fact it was only five. It was quite a thrill seeing The Big Deep image on the website, knowing that readers could download and read with just the click of a button, but in the middle of the night this week that thrill was strangely equaled when I woke up and remembered The List. I realised that because everything was stored in my head I hadn’t actually looked at it for weeks, possibly months, and all those things to be done were now things that had been done. They were things achieved. So the first thing I did the following morning was go back to The List and cross everything off. It was as satisfying as a cappuccino and a large slice of carrot cake.
So, my suggestion for anyone considering doing something a little bit scary, something that makes you feel the fear. Make a list and make it thorough. Take small steps. Take your time and prepare. Find someone who can share not just the burden, but also the sense of adventure. But most of all believe in yourself and what you can achieve.
Go on, just do it.