Paranoia in Self-Publishing?

I had a thought yesterday that birthed a panic attack that my dear friend Ionia had to smack me out of.  I think she rather enjoyed it a bit too much and I’m still looking for my missing contact lens, which is weird since I wear glasses.  There’s also been a phone ringing for the last 24 hours.

Seriously though, take a look at what an Indie Author has to face:

  • Negative Reviews
  • Abusive Reviews
  • Abusive e-mails, FB comments, & Tweets
  • Pressure of writing another book
  • Writer’s Block
  • Marketing failures
  • Finding marketing sites
  • Bad sales days
  • No sales days
  • Amazon rankings
  • People reacting to your rankings falling as if it’s time to pack in the dreams and head for the nearest cubicle.
  • Finding time to write
  • Editing
  • Hate sites if you get that far
  • Haters if you make a wrong move
  • Illegal downloads of your book
  • Returns of your book
  • Formatting issues
  • Friends not talking to you about your book
  • Authors who that think this is a competition and work to sabotage
  • People requesting your book for review and never getting back to you, which costs you a book.

That’s just off the top of my head, but that is a long and nasty list of obstacles.  A traditionally published author might be shielded from a lot of this by a publishing company or an agent.  I don’t believe they see the daily sales and haters are easily deflected by someone else.  There’s a sense of having more shielding from such hardships when you have this benefit.  Of course, you also make less for every sale and have less control over things, so that’s the trade-off.

Sadly, Indie Authors have the fun of being naked to all of these things.  Sure, you can ignore the sales and rankings, but curiosity gets most of us.  Many of us are working other jobs and/or have families, so constant marketing and writing the next book becomes a challenge.  It feels like one obstacle after another and a truly horrific week can do a number on an Indie Author’s confidence and sanity.  That was me last week when I kept wondering what else could possibly go wrong.  By Friday, I was about ready to crawl into a corner and cry because I simply couldn’t figure out what was going wrong.  That’s another issue for many Indie Authors.  Many of us don’t know the high and low times of the book market, so it takes time to figure out if it’s slow across the board or we screwed up somewhere.  This creates a paranoia and you’ll find yourself doing some odd things:

  • Going for every expensive marketing thing you can find.
  • Swearing you’re going to quit.
  • Deleting your book then putting it back up.
  • Fighting with a negative reviewer.
  • Search the Internet for the site that ‘must be’ spreading bad words about you.
  • Voodoo dolls.
  • Taking care of the last of the Super Bowl beer.
  • Spending time with family whether they like it or not.

So, what can an Indie Author do about this?  I’m still figuring that out, but I have ideas.  Focus entirely on the next project is one idea.  Vent in private or to a friend who is willing to listen then beat you with a chair for being an idiot.  Hunt for silver linings or just watch the movie.  It really depends on your personality and stress levels.  I used to play violent video games to get my aggression out, but that’s no longer an option since my son caught me playing God of War.  A final idea that might work is to pick a small, simple project and do it.  Get yourself a victory to overshadow the obstacles and stresses, which will also remind you that you can succeed.

So, any Indie Authors get into this paranoia state?  What did you do to get out of it or avoid it completely?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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85 Responses to Paranoia in Self-Publishing?

  1. I can identify with most of what you’ve said here Charles. I guess there’re just no easy answers for us indie authors.

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  2. I think you can put author of small publisher in this mix. Good recap of my daily fear.

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  3. Seán Cooke says:

    It works for most do-it-yourself approaches. Right now in the self-publishing of my game I’m facing the torture of finding an artist that will work AND funding them.

    And don’t get me started on marketing… I have a lot of things planned, but where the hell do I put them?

    One bonus about self-publishing novels vs some other ventures is the artwork, though. Next time you’re waiting on a cover and wondering when it will arrive or how much it will cost, think about the struggling game designer, waiting on 80 cards and each is expensive. 😉

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  4. ioniamartin says:

    Reblogged this on readful things blog and commented:

    An interesting question for indie authors

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  5. I don’t think there’s any avoiding it and that’s probably the first step – accepting that this is going to happen and not just now and then. What helps is the thing you’ve mentioned – focus in on the next writing project and get going. For me, it’s the only way to free myself from the obsessive thinking. Love this post.

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    • Thanks. I’m pushing for the next project focus. I do think one of the surprising obstacles is when people look at these slowdowns and try to stop you. I never realized how many people were waiting to tell me it was ‘game over’.

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  6. That’s an impressively comprehensive list. I was glad to find some good suggestions at the end. We all have to face these things, and when several hit us at once, it can really hurt. The hard thing is to ride out the storm, but usually there are peaks and valleys, and if you can get through the valley without destroying yourself (which can be a major challenge sometimes), there is often good news waiting at the other side, in my experience. Good luck. 🙂

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    • You just reminded me of another song I could have put in here. Hurricane by Theory of a Deadman.

      I think getting hit by multiple stresses is what takes some people out. Maybe not permanently, but you feel frozen in terms of motivation. I’m personally becoming a bigger fan of the small victory idea.

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  7. Reblogged this on chrismcmullen and commented:
    See if you can relate to this comprehensive list of indie publishing challenges. Toward the end of Charles’ post (and perhaps in the comments), you’ll find some suggestions for dealing with these issues.

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  8. Excellent post Charles. Every day I come across something similar, and I know what you mean. I’ve actually stepped back a few times to try and put it all in perspective. It’s terrible what so many indies go through and I do believe most don’t really understand the industry environment.

    While I wanted to leave my MBA training behind, I do know there is a real need for a different kind of non-fiction book on this whole subject, and something that I can do from a strategic planning perspective.

    If I do it well it will help cope with some of those anxieties. It won’t be a “how-to” book by any means, but it will help keep us sane . . . love to hear your thoughts on the idea.

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  9. mrschmoe says:

    I was afraid of that. It would be like hot being poured in one’s eye and scream at the top of one’s lung and saying okay I will rectify that another book, angst the main character even more.
    I am thinking of dying my eye brows and hair to white. and go under the name andrew Nootmartz

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  10. Really interesting post and a topic that coincidentally I was just discussing with a friend this morning, in particular about reviews and the difference between personal taste and literary opinion.

    I think one of the hardest things comes from the fact that we are socialised to always think the other persons view is more objective and therefore valid than ours. So if you get a bad review it’s hard not to just accept it particularly if you haven’t tested the issues beforehand. And that usually costs money to do because unless your friends who read your work are very honest AND to be frank understand your genre and it’s style and conventions, it is hard to get a real view of your work.

    But if you do have honest friends who know their literary styles, get their advice! Beta readers in the genre of choice may also help if you are confident they really know their stuff. 🙂

    I am fortunate enough to have had the money to get professional appraisals of my work before I published and I also got professional editing. From that I got both useful suggestions and much needed line editing, but also the validation that the novels work when read within their genres So when I got a reader review after publishing that said my novel The Seed needed editing I could recognise with confidence this showed the reader was talking about their taste rather than highlighting a real editing issue. I was hurt for my editor who I named in my acknowledgement as she is an accredited professional in her field, but given her standing and honesty I could see that review for what it was. Had I not had that professional help I might have not been able to see the difference between a person expressing a preference for style and an actual flaw for a book in that genre.

    And for the record I have no problem with someone not liking my writing style, just that had I not had professional editing I might have been more worried about that part of the review, just because we are brought up to think others opinions are more valid than our own about anything to do with us or our work. I don’t think the reviewer in this case meant harm and she is welcome to her opinion and taste but I think I can confidently say editing is not the issue with the book, even if the style will not be to everyone’s taste. Had I not had the professional reviews I would not be so confident of that.

    But this does cost a lot and so is not an option for everyone. And if you do pursue it make sure you get accredited professionals in their field.

    Last week I corresponded with one of the best indie writers I have come across on WordPress and she was knocked by a so called internet indie book rating review. It was clear from their review they didn’t understand her work or genre and frankly I suspect they were trying to leverage their review to get hr to buy their services to fix a book which doesn’t need fixing. So that was not a good investment in the end, so my advice, for what it’s worth, is find accredited professionals rather than internet would be experts to get useful and relevant feedbAck. This won’t stop the unreasonable or uninformed review but it will help you have confidence in in your work when those reviews arrive. No book will be loved by everyone but if you know your book is credible for its genre it will make the rest easier.

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    • It’s only recently that I’ve been able to work with an accredited review. When I started, I depended on myself and a few beta readers. Not all of them were used to my genre.

      I get quite a few reviews that say I need an editor, but it’s due to me using present tense. I think what throws them is when a character talks about something that happened in the past, so they mistake it for a tense mistake. It puts me in a rough position, but I’m holding the course.

      Sad situation with that author. I never heard of someone doing that.

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      • Neither had I heard of that till I heard of that instance. You very much articulate the problem even with beta readers with your experience. You get far more positive reviews than otherwise so I say do hold course! 🙂 I know my novel,isn’t best seller material and will only appeal to a particular audience so I’m cool with that, but as I said, having had professional reviews certainly helps my confidence when someone doesn’t personally like my work. 🙂

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      • It’s all about the confidence. 🙂 Also, from what you said, there are many predators in the self-publishing sea.

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      • Very much so. It’s disturbing to see. That’s why I say if you can afford it go to the accredited professionals, not the internet anonymous ‘experts’. The thing about professional accredited manuscript assessment agencies is that their reputation in the industry depends on honesty. You pay them up front for an honest review of your work and if they like it you can use that review for a publisher, but they don’t offer to fix your book for a fee, so it’s more professional. They don’t criticise to get extra money from you, and they also don’t just praise everything because iF they just liked everything they read then tHeir reputation in the industry would disappear fast. So you pay upfront for honesty and integrity. A far better proposition I would think. 🙂

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      • Years ago, I went through a vanity press and bought a package that included a Kirkus Review. It was honest and rather brutal. It can be a worthwhile double-edged sword.

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      • Yes, Kirkus is reputable I believe. But a manuscript assessment service gives you feedback before you publish and won’t be published as a review in itself, so it’s a private way to get expert feedback. I’ve had four books manuscript assessed. Three gave me stuff to work with which I’ve done and the fourth made the brutal but correct point that the book was too flawed. I welcomed all the feedback because you know what to invest in and what to let go. 🙂

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      • I still don’t have enough money for something like that. I think. Though, I’ve noticed that the more I write, edit, and get feedback, the tighter my overall style becomes.

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      • Yes, it is expensive unfortunately. Years ago there weren’t manuscript assessment agencies and publishers had what they called professional readers on staff that did this type of review, but like many things it got outsourced so now the writer makes the upfront investment rather than the publishing house. Having said all this I do think there Are many reviewers who can differentiate between personal taste re genres etc and quality and I do think you have enough good reviews to be confident you are on the right track. My point was only that if one can afford this advice before publishing it can help with confidence. 🙂

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      • Good point. I agree that most reviewers can differentiate between personal taste and actual issues.

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  11. Papi Z says:

    Must have patience grasshopper. Keep working on the next project. I know, it is difficult to not look at those numbers and be scared that they are dropping or flat lining. Everything I have heard and read is to keep plugging and release as often as possible. Stay within the readers mind.

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    • There are two methods in regards to releasing that I’ve heard. One is what you say, which is releasing as often as possible. I see this work for novellas and short stories. For longer works, the trick is to keep hype up and release on a schedule. Aim for 2-3 a year if you can, but that takes time. The longer works are harder to churn out at a top quality like the short stories.

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  12. agmoye says:

    As both a writer and reviewer, I see things from both sides of the coin. I know how much effort a person puts into writing a book and as a reviewer, if I can’t say anything good about the book and only see the bad, I just don’t don’t post my review. So far I have not ran into any like that but I’m sure they are out there. If a book is not to my taste, I don’t review it either. No since in telling everyone I don’t like this genre and then trash it, people will see right through your review and know you are only trashing it because of your taste in books. A.G. Moye

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    • That’s a great mentality and I think most serious reviewers have the same standards. I’ve actually received responses from reviewers I’ve submitted to that say they don’t like my genre, so they refuse. As an author, I can respect that because it’s better than someone going into my work already having issues. Personal taste is always a factor.

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  13. MishaBurnett says:

    I mutter, “Fools! I will crush them all!” to myself as I work on my giant robot army in my secret lair. Plus, I listen to a lot of Broadway showtunes. They always cheer me up.

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  14. sknicholls says:

    It is hard not to feel dejected after a negative review, especially when it comes at a time when sales have slumped or ceased. I say focus on the next project. Look at your accomplishments and smile about the positives.

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    • I’m getting better with them, but I still feel strange when a negative review appears right before a slump. Its happened a few times where someone posts a negative review and things slow down. Makes me paranoid at times even though I’m sure it’s a coincidence.

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  15. Pingback: Meeting the Challenges of Self-Publishing | chrismcmullen

  16. Bastet says:

    I’ve had people ask me why I don’t publish…basically for all the reasons above. Heaven’s I have problems just keeping my blog running lately. I can just imagine (kind of like watching “Nightmare” actually) what would happen if I put myself on this bandwagon. Having said all this, all I can say is that people like you, Mark and Papi and all others who have chosen to face this Evil Gaunlet are my heros…makes you want to put on your shining armor and make the effort, pull out one’s sword and face the dragon…no matter what! Scary post…made me shiver ( 😉 )

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  17. Merita King says:

    I can identify with you on this, and I’ve yet to find a way out of it. At the moment I’m still down there in the dark cave trying to pretend I don’t care, and trying to accept that it’s just not in my destiny to be successful.

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  18. Olivia Stocum says:

    I had a tough week too. I pretty much convinced myself that I’m a washout, faker hack. Lost yet another friend for not cutting that scene she wanted me to cut so badly. People keep saying, “Oh, it’s your BIG week. (Moonstone releasing and all) You must be so proud.” I smile though my teeth, while in the back of my head thinking, “Make it end God, make it all end!”

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  19. Every author is up against all those things, unless you’re J. K. Rowling and can afford to hire marketing staff. You’re absolutely right to focus on your current project. The actual writing is the fun part. I also recommend Magical Thinking, ie: “I shut my eyes and can’t see the reviews, so they aren’t there!”

    Just kidding.

    Mostly. 🙂

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  20. You just gave me a list of reasons that should keep me away from try to self publishing!!! I’m an anxious person in everything, so I immagine I’d go mental in two days! Fair play to you! I mean at least you’re publishing your stories and your doing a great job anyway! Ups and downs are in every situation but stay positive is the best solution! Go! Go! You’ll be grand!

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  21. TamrahJo says:

    I think Indie authors should start a Correspondence Circle – i.e. your ‘fan/hate’ mail is forwarded to me – I’ll skim through it, forward the lovely / constructive criticism /helpful ones on to you and handle the ignorant/hateful/pot-stirring ones myself – You, in turn, do the same for Ionia and she does the same for another, etc., etc.,

    I find that most creative/sensitive types have no problem whatsoever standing up for/dealing with bullies for others, but nearly crumble under an attack aimed at their own selves – – – this system would play on our strengths AND not add the extra “Admin. Assistant/Bull Dog At My Front Door” payroll costs! LOL

    Just a thought….

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    • TamrahJo says:

      I”ve already come up with a standard reply:
      “Thank you so much for taking the time to contact (insert author’s name) – I found your contact to be rude and insufferable, but because (said author) is such a gem of a fellow, he’ll probably read it anyways and take under advisement your ignorant and uninformed viewpoints – –
      I’m not as nice as (said author) is –
      Sir (or madam) you are a jackarse!”

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    • Interesting concept. A conga line of avoiding our haters/critics.

      Though, I do think some of the negatives have a silver lining. An author with no negative reviews might become a little too arrogant, which means they might stop improving. Once this author gets even a bit of criticism, they won’t be able to handle it. Maybe it’s best for an author to be hit with such things early on and occasionally. Keeps us grounded and humble.

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      • TamrahJo says:

        I always say there are multiple ways to improve and you always have a choice of who your sparring partners are as you walk the road – (i.e. I could learn hand-to-hand combat in an underground Fight Club type of setting, OR I could find someone who knows such things in my circle and ask to learn from them – LOL)

        I did not mean to infer that negative feedback is always negative – I was rather thinking about those unhappy individuals that deal with their own life disappointments by being as mean and hateful they can to anyone they meet – 🙂

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      • Shhhh. We don’t talk about Fight Club, which is ridiculous because it makes it impossible to find new members.

        I agree about those people. They’re certainly a dangerous obstacle for those of us with iffy confidence.

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      • TamrahJo says:

        Some years ago, I had a phone convo with a friend in the wee hours of the morning – – divorce was looming on the horizon and the friend was in a state of paralyzing fear – for they subscribed to the belief that if they didn’t ‘learn the lessons they needed to” from this relationship, another similar one would show up anyways and they would rather just stick with the evil they knew….
        🙂
        From that conversation came my belief that we can exercise our freedom to have preferences in how we choose to learn and grow – –

        I just don’t see the harm in honoring our personal growth preferences – just as I don’t really understand the whole, “No Pain – No Gain” viewpoint, but hey! it works for some!
        🙂

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      • I can see how that lesson would come about and it makes a lot of sense.

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      • TamrahJo says:

        I was happy to find they did divorce and both are much, much happier now – their current spouses give them the challenge and support they need without leaving them lying in a pool of blood on the battle field, calling for a medic! 😀

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      • That’s good to hear. Also a bit brutal at the end, but that seems to typically be the case.

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      • TamrahJo says:

        Not always – but enough times that I thought the “pick your sparring partners carefully’ idea was a valid one – – And then I realized it applied to just more than romances – 🙂

        Like

      • I can think of a ton of things that it would apply to. Maybe a good sparring is what gets us through things and makes us stronger.

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      • TamrahJo says:

        I think so and I believe this community here to be an awesome well-spring of sparring partners – those who instruct enough for us to get it, without leaving us permanently disabled (for the most part…I”ve yet to have another blogger do anything to be but try to sell factory outlet purses – – LOL 🙂

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      • I get those outlet purse comments all the time. Those things simply don’t work with my wardrobe.

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  22. Pingback: Some tips for new authors | When I Became an Author

  23. Robynn Gabel says:

    An intelligent and entertaining blog. It definitely can be daunting out there. I’ve found the easiest solution, just keep writing. I’ve waited for many years to do just what I’m doing now, getting all of these stories out of my head. I researched and studied what I was getting myself into when I started, so I’ve not been surprised about anything yet, well, except the haters. Even then, I just bury myself in the next project. I don’t have time for the fuss. Every author is truly different. What drives me crazy is just starting. That first chapter is always the hardest. After that, I’m reveling in the world I’m creating. Marketing is daunting, but right now, the focus is just to write. Thank you for this article, now I know I’m not alone!

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  24. Pingback: Paranoia in Self-Publishing? | Robynn Gabel's Common Sense Experience

  25. Pingback: Post Revisited- Paranoia in Self-Publishing? | Legends of Windemere

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