Self-Publishing Chronicles: Paralysis

I have a pattern when it comes to big projects: I get really excited to start, do a bunch of research, and then get overwhelmed and shut down. Fortunately, the shut downs aren’t the end of the process. They’re more like rest stops on the drive. Or maybe it’s more akin to backing the car out of the garage and then stalling in the driveway. At any rate, at some point I do shift into drive and get on the road. 

These pauses are periods of adjustment, similar to getting into a pool and standing in waist-high water before being comfortable enough to submerge. And I am standing in the pool of self-publishing, trying to get my bearings. The enthusiasm I had a few weeks ago solidified into paralysis as I started wading through so many options and trying to make a decision.

Where should I publish? How do I handle distribution? Is it too late to hire a marketing specialist? Too early? Should I buy one ISBN or a block of ten? How do I make a mailing list? Do I need one?

As I wrote earlier, I knew I needed to start making some choices and not worry too much about the rest. There are many paths to successful self-publishing. I did make a few decisions but still felt overwhelmed. Then I realized I needed to act on those decisions and move this train forward.

To answer the above questions, I’m publishing (and doing distribution) through IngramSpark. I set up my account a few days ago and have been playing around with the features. I especially appreciate the links IngramSpark provides to recommended book professionals. I’m in the process of hiring a cover and interior designer. I also sent a request for marketing quotes to several professionals via Reedsy, which has been an invaluable source for finding book professionals. Next up: buy ten ISBNs! (Serious discount for buying in bulk, plus I like the incentive of, “Well, I might as write more books since I’ve got all these ISBNS….”)

I’m still working on the mailing list. The biggest hangup has been renting a PO box, which needs to be done in person, at least at my local branch. (Mailing lists require a physical address by law.) With the pandemic raging, I figure I can wait a bit before venturing into such a public space.

How do you handle big projects? Do you have similar periods of adjustment? How do you work with any resistance or reluctance you encounter in yourself?

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