The Spirit of Self-Publishing: William Shakespeare Edition

So you’re thinking about self-publishing. You take some consolation in the dignity of small audiences and the examples of Marcel Proust and others.

You use examples like the great Joanna Penn to show you the way. She reminds you that you’re keeping 70% of your sales (and 100% of your control).

David Gaughran explains how the publishing piece of the writerly endeavor is now easy (though the other two pieces – writing and marketing – are still hard).

You already know the writing piece is hard, of course. And you’re glad to hear the publishing part is easy. (So easy a monkey could do it.)  Then you listen to something like the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast episode with Leeland Artra. And you realize just how far down that rabbit hole you can go. Spreadsheets? Ratios? Writing computer programs to send out tweets? Pulling down stats? There’s a lot of effort there – effort that’s not writing, effort that might not be something you enjoy. Frankly, it sounds like a terrible distraction from writing itself, at least for you. And you start to think – well, what’s the point of writing this if nobody reads it? Why go through all this effort?

And then – serendipitously – a friend tells you the story of a guy he knew who sold shirts out of the trunk of his car. He’s now 41 years old. You may have heard of his billion-dollar company.

And you read about the greatest writer of all, the king, the master, the honey-tipped quill, who himself had the entrepreneurial spirit:

It was an unprecedented step for an Elizabethan author to take a stake in the ownership of of a theatre company and it put Shakespeare in a “unique position”, compared with his literary contemporaries, claims Dr van Es, from Oxford’s faculty of language and literature.

It made Shakespeare much richer, but it also gave him much more freedom over his writing and allowed him to innovate.

And you think: yes, this is hard, yes, this is lonely, yes, this is probably futile…

But yes, this has benefits, yes, this gives me what I didn’t have before, and above all: Yes, it’s time for me to get this done. 

Go forward, young self-publishing grasshopper!

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