Last week, I launched my first short story collection, Human Fragments. It’s self-published and free and digital-only, so obviously, it's not an actual book, or so my insecurities tell me. Most of the time, I manage to ignore them and be immensely proud of this achievement. To help with that, here are five things I learned from this particular adventure.
It’s always more work than you think.
I thought I was ready. I prepared everything I could think of. And, sure, I’m not the most organised person in the world. But I suspect even [insert planning goddess’ name] would have missed some things. So maybe the learning is: anything I do for the first time, there would be things I only learn when I actually do it. It’s kind of like with kids. You can read all the books, but nothing replaces actual experience.
It’s frigging scary, even if you think you’re ready.
I have been discussing my fears openly here. That doesn’t make them go away, mind. And I thought I had dealt with my fear of being visible, of making a public mistake. But turns out, no matter what I do, I’m still scared that people won’t love my work. That’s okay; I just need to be prepared for that.
It’s also kind of wonderful.
People I don’t know (and people I do) tell me that they liked my stories. Let’s unpack that: Actual. People. Read. And like. My stories. It’s incredible.
A team makes a difference.
I got a few fellow writers to join my launch team. They got advance copies and posted a selfie with the cover on launch day. I thought it was just a little marketing trick. Turns out, the feeling that you’re not alone on launch day takes some of the fear away. It doesn’t cure or solve it, but it helps.
AI can make it easier.
I hate marketing for various reasons. I get why it’s necessary, though. I also get why writers fear AI taking their jobs, but that’s a whole other post. I used various generative AI apps to help me get the marketing stuff done. I find it useful, especially if it’s something I don’t want to do. The AI doesn’t procrastinate. It doesn’t have visibility issues or low self-esteem. It writes something useful, and I always, always edit it before it’s even close to something I want to use. But it saved me hours of work, and that’s something.