The Joy of Self-publishing by Kat Vellos
I started writing my book before I even knew I was writing a book.
A small collection of essays turned into the skeleton for what is now my upcoming book, We Should Get Together: The Secret to Cultivating Better Friendships.
Once I realized (about 10,000 words in) that I was in fact writing a book, little did I know what a twisty-turny learning journey I was about to go on.
Honestly, I learned enough about the writing, editing, and self-publishing process to fill *another* book, but here are my three favorite lessons from my self-publishing journey.
Creative control is priceless
I’ve had over two dozen jobs in my life, and at least as many bosses.
Some of them I adored, and some of them I could do without. But I’ve never had a single job where my boss told me:
“This job is all yours. You don’t have to answer to anyone else, and you can do whatever you want with it.”
Self-publishing is that kind of job.
My book wasn’t the first time I did a project where I had complete creative control.
A long time ago I also released an educational CD for kids, and the single from it went to #1 on SiriusXM Kids & Family radio.
My success with that project made me want to do my book the same way: My way.
When you do a good thing at work and your boss says “great job” it feels nice, but when you succeed at creating something that is all yours, the feeling of accomplishment is 10X better.
Even though I can’t yet know what my book’s journey into the world will look like, I already feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment from having a vision and empowering myself to make it a reality.
DIY doesn’t mean on your own
I was committed to direct my book creation process for myself, but that doesn’t mean that I was alone.
I’m lucky that I have a professional background as a visual designer so I could do my own illustration and design.
But I got tons of help along the way from other people who had other expertise.
I got feedback from early readers that helped me polish and refine my writing. I got advice from other authors who self-published their books.
I hired a freelance editor and freelance marketer who could give me the right dose of specialized advice at a price point that worked for my budget at the right time in the process.
I was overseeing and project-managing the entire endeavor, but I was definitely not alone.
Writing a book ≠ Marketing a book
The process of writing my book was energizing, fun, and nearly addictive. I adored the personal reflection, the research and interviews, creating and organizing the information, and crafting the story.
But that was completely different from *telling the world* about the thing I had written.
Writing is a solitary creative practice that makes my introvert heart sing with joy—and it feels like the opposite of everything involved in promoting and marketing a book.
The biggest area of personal growth for me as a writer has been the process of learning to be more visible, as a necessity of getting my book in the hands of the people it’s meant for.
I’ve warmed to the process by talking to people who’ve successfully gone down that road before, by putting on my learner’s cap, and by surrounding myself with people who are passionate and skilled at marketing.
Honestly, I dreaded it at first, but I’ve found the book promotion process to be kind of fun. Even though I’m still early in the process, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing my work and connecting with new people all around the world who are excited about it.
I recently heard an acquaintance’s story about having to fight with her publisher over the cover she wanted for her book; they wanted to use a rather bland cover and she wanted something really bold. She won that fight and I’m happy for her, but man, was I glad to not have to deal with that kind of struggle.
Even though a small part of me would love the additional help with the book production and promotion process, at this point I can honestly say that self-publishing was absolutely the right choice for me.
It means doing more work with fewer resources, but I already feel like a success.
If you’re thinking about self-publishing, go for it!
Remember: Lean into your power, don’t go it alone, and put yourself out there! The world is waiting for your story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kat Vellos is an experience designer, facilitator, and the founder of Better Than Small Talk and Bay Area Black Designers which was profiled in Forbes. She has a passion for cultivating community and designing experiences that help others connect more authentically. She offers We Should Get Together to help more adults create fulfilling friendships that last.
Connect with Kat:
Personal twitter: @katvellos