The Opportunity of a Lifetime: Eh, Too Much Work


Today’s guest blog comes from the über talented Ania Ahlborn, author of the novel SEED, which is slated for a June 2011 release. To find out more about her upcoming novel, and to read samples, please stop by her official website. You can also find Ania on Twitter.


Just a handful of years ago, being an author meant something completely different from what it means today. Once upon a time, we were doomed to countless years of sweating over the perfect novel only to spend more countless years collecting crookedly scissored rejection slips that have been Xeroxed a dozen times over; a copy of a copy of a copy. To most NYC fat-cat agents, that’s all we were worth.

Those times have vanished like David Copperfield during a show-closing trick. Poof! And in a dramatic burst of smoke and glitter, writers have been handed the keys to the kingdom. Just like Alice, we’ve wanted to fit through that tiny publisher’s door, desperately trying to squeeze an arm through if only to say that we almost fit, we almost made it… hell, we fit our entire arm in there… if we had just pushed a little harder we could have broken down the wall. And then, a tiny miracle: a little cake with ‘eat me’ scrawled across it—though for us, it says e-me. E for ebook. E for e-publishing. E for everything we’ve ever wanted.

The Red Queen’s garden is a dangerous place. One misstep and it’s ‘off with your head’. The same goes for being an indie author. If you screw up once, and you screw up badly enough, you may never have a chance to recover. Sure, you won’t have a publisher breathing down your neck like an angry bull. You won’t have an agent yapping at you about deadlines and royalty fees. You won’t have any of that because, as an indie, you’re completely alone in this. That knowledge alone cripples many a writer. Because alone is just as scary as failure.

As an indie, I’m constantly on Twitter, and because I advertise my upcoming novel Seed on a perpetual rotation, I attract a lot of writers. It’s interesting to watch writers talk amongst themselves, forgetting that a million eyes could be watching their conversation. I constantly see writers talking about editing and revision—those topics are so commonplace they hardly catch my attention anymore. It’s the topic of queries and rejection letters that get me. Every once in a while I run into a traditionalist—a writer who’s still determined to be traditionally published despite the ebook boom. They still want that Big 6 contract. They still want the book signings, the almighty royalty advance. Once, I asked one of these writers if they’ve looked into e-publishing. The answer I received floored me.

“It’s so much research.”

I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to grab that person by the shoulders and shake them. The idea of someone being afraid to do the research at the cost of making their dream of publishing come true, well, quite honestly it sickened me. How can someone be so passive? How can someone who says they want to be an author shrug their shoulders and say ‘eh, it’s way too hard’? Is it hard? Hell yes. Is it worth it? Well I don’t know… how bad do you want it? 

With ebooks outselling print books, a lot of authors are worried that the market will become saturated with writers who are painfully self-published. I’m talking bad covers, bad writing, bad stories. I used to wonder about that as well, but that agent-seeking writer put that worry to rest. Being self-published isn’t a big deal. Being successfully self-published is; and I’m not talking monetary success here either. In my belief, being successfully self-published is being so well put-together that people have no idea you did it yourself. I’ll be the first to tell you that takes some investment, and it also takes a hell of a lot of work. Once, I was convinced that everyone was putting in the same amount of effort as me. Now, I know that isn’t true; now, I know that some people give up before they even try.

You’ve been handed an opportunity of a lifetime, and you don’t need anyone’s approval to make your dream of being a published author come true. But as indies, we are not all created equal. We’re in this alone, and we have nobody to blame for our shortcomings but ourselves.


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