Have you ever jumped into a pool on a summer’s day? Most people have, but if you haven’t let me describe it for you:
You stand at the edge of the pool, the sun beats down on you. People around you are watching, waiting for the splash. The water looks so cool, inviting. A nearby kid splashes at you, daring you to join her. Despite the sweat on your back, you shiver. You know that the water’s coldness will be a shock at first, but you’ve come so far, no turning back now. You hang your toes off the edge as you take one last deep breath, bend your knees, and push off. A moment of exhilaration takes over as you fly weightlessly before water envelopes your body. Splashing sounds and muffled screams of joy register just before you bob to the surface. The water’s no longer cold and you’re glad you jumped in. You look around to find that girl that splashed you earlier. Time to join the fun.
This is what it feels like to publish as indie author. Well, to me, anyway. I spend a lot of time around pools, and around swimmers. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much swimmers and authors have in common. Here’s my list:
Swimming is an individual sport, with team support and effort. The same goes for indie authors.
When you’re a swimmer, the only time you’re really trying to beat is your own. Stats are listed by a swimmer’s fastest time and the biggest goal at a meet is to swim faster than that. And what does your team do? Stand at the end of the lane and cheer you on. Congratulate you when you beat your time, and give you encouragement and support when you don’t out-swim yourself.
As an author, your work is your own. And what are you trying to beat? Your own sales, your own numbers on your social media, your own story with your next, even better, story. Your team is other authors, people just like you. They congratulate you on your recent work, follow you on social media, and give you advice when something doesn’t turn out the way you planned.
Technicalities will get you every time.
In swimming, being the fastest doesn’t always mean being the best. There are judges watching you, walking up and down the lanes, making sure you are using the correct kick, the right stroke, that your arms come completely out of the water when they are supposed to. If you mess up, you get disqualified. In fact, the first season my daughter swam, her goal for the entire summer was to not get disqualified. That’s right. There was a person waiting at the end of the pool to tell this sweet little face that she didn’t two-hand touch.
As an author, especially an indie author, technicalities get you everywhere. Can’t get your formatting just right? It’s noticed, or kicked backed to you with an “un-submit-able” email. Miss a word or have typos? It’s noticed. Even paid editors and beta readers can miss something. And if you’re an Indie, there isn’t a publisher to blame (Yes, I’ve seen my fair share of typos, spacing issues in trade-pubbed books.) Don’t know how to tag or categorize your books correctly? Well, that’s a science in itself, lol.
You Gotta Pay to Play
Swimming is an expensive sport. Fees alone can be up to $150 per swimmer, per season. You need a team suit, right? That’ll be $50. Swim cap with your team’s name on it? $12… and you better get extras. Goggles? $10 -$20 depending on your swimmer’s preference. And that’s just the basics. There’s also towels, practice suits, special shampoos and conditioners, sharpies and programs at meets, invitational fees, and backpacks for swimmers to carry all that stuff in.
So what do indie authors pay for? All you need is your computer or a pen and paper, right? Wrong! You need editors, and you’re either going to pay in cash or time, or maybe both. Self editing is not a good idea. What about a book cover? You can buy a professionally made one, buy the tools you need to make a good cover, or go at it with basic tools, but the latter may cost you in time and frustration to get it in a good quality. And then there’s advertising. Sure, there are opportunities for free advertising all around us, but the cost is time. This blog, for example, is free, but takes about ten or more hours a week to keep it up and going.
We Have our Own Culture and Language
Hours a week sitting a glass walled room over looking a pool. Getting up at 6 am to make 8:30 warm ups. Spending an entire Saturday at the edge of the pool with a timer, or going back and forth from gym to pool as events are lined up. If I say to another parent, “Do you have the pen? She just DQ’d on her fly for a flutter at the end.I’m going to talk to her.” That parent will know exactly what I’m saying.
In the indie author world, we meet online for sprints, crit each others work, trade information and blog interviews. We give up free time to peck at a computer or carry a notebook to our day jobs to scribble ideas down as the come to us. Conversations go more like this: “Do you use Smashwords or Wattpad? Is it mophi or epub I need for KDP?”
At the end of a swim season, there is always a banquet and swimmers are recognized for best in age group, most improved, and a variety of other things. Place ribbons are given for every event. But that’s not the rewards I’m talking about here. I’m taking about the real rewards. Teamwork, discipline, exercise, and confidence. My daughter and her friends spend a good portion of their life running around in swimsuits, and they’re completely comfortable with that. When you’re preparing for your event, or cheering a friend on, you’re too busy focusing on your sport to worry about what your body looks like.
As for indie authors, we may not all start the gate completely confident, but as we go on, we fake it until we make it. No one is going to be as enthusiastic about my work as I am, and when I’m the new girl in town, no one’s going to shout my name from the rooftops, so I’d better be prepared to. Along the way, we meet our own team, learn the discipline of setting our own goals and timelines, and find people who are just as excited about our work as we are. And some time during our journey we transform from “just a self-pubbed author” to ” Indie Author – and Proud of It!”
If you read this, and you aren’t and Indie Author, find one and give them a hug. They deserve it. And then share this post so that someone else will read this, and more hugs will ensue. If you are an Indie Author, give yourself a pat on the back, and feel free to shamelessly plug your work in the comments. It’s free 😉
And now, for you scrollers that don’t stop scrolling, my own shameless plug. I’m doing a signed paperback giveaway from Goodreads right now. Click below to enter!
by Emma Woods
Giveaway ends November 01, 2015.
See the giveaway details