One of the things going it alone has taught me is the idea of just how important and valuable someone else’s help truly is. When you’re going it alone, you don’t have the (theoretical) resources of a huge publisher to back you up when you wonder if your numbers are right on the dashboards, or if your sales really have stalled. Going it alone means I get to wonder constantly if my experience is the norm or the exception. Funnily enough, the secrecy was one of the things that drove me most nuts about traditional publishing.
But thankfully, there’s no one to take me aside and tell me the uncomfortable questions won’t get me return invitations to the cocktail parties. Instead, this indie gig is like one big cocktail party where we’re all asking uncomfortable questions, without shame. Like a big, adolescent hormone-fest where we constantly eye each other and ask, “Am I normal?” And if that sounds like the awkward version of hell to you, you might be right, but it’s a hell where information gets shared, and I guess that means I might be one of the Eves that gets kicked out of the Garden for being too curious for her own good.
The one consistent thing I’ve discovered about this gig is that there is no normal. My experiences are nothing like the authors I’m sharing with, and our experiences are as unique as our writing styles, which blows the lid off the persistent and prevailing myth that there’s some sort of secret formula to fame and fortune, and there’s some three-step miracle program (or the Internetz’s oft-memed “Step 2: ??? Step 3: Profit!”) to give you a paper cut-out of Real Authordom(TM) and ten pages’ worth of cut-out, mix-n-match elements that will make guaranteed bestsellers that will be adored by generations to come, and optioned to film studios in bidding wars that go high enough to give the Sultan of Brunei pause.
There is no normal. There’s no formula. There’s no secret sauce or magic pill for success. Hell, what even works changes from day to day and book to book. Someone else did something they love, and the next person that tries it gets ignored. Six people do something that flies under the radar, but when the seventh tries it, it explodes out of the box and becomes the Next Big Thing. It’s the great frontier, man, and the only thing you can do is keep moving west, striking out for greater and grander vistas, and seeing what’s over the next rise.