by Lily Benitez, Age 19, USA
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
I self-published a little over a year ago when I was eighteen, and I wanted to share my experience as an independent author. It’s been a long journey since that fateful day when I put my book up for sale on Amazon and CreateSpace.
To put it simply, I jumped headfirst off a cliff without a rope. I was so excited to have my first book published that I didn’t do much groundwork; beta readers, advertising my book’s release date, getting a blog started, etc. Back then, I just wanted to release my work to the world and begin my journey as an author.
The first lesson I learned was to ensure my book was edited. “Good enough” will never cut it. Always be happy with your work, even if you must take extra time. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t publish a first draft or anything like that. My book had mistakes, but they were caught by other writers I asked to review my book, whose trained eyes caught them. I was upset, but that wasn’t going to stop me either. I buckled down and fine-tuned my book all over again.
It wasn’t until I self-published that I started to grow as a writer and as a person. I had to creep out of my shell to advertise myself as an author. That can be scary. I was much more comfortable when I was alone and writing. Now, it was up to me to switch roles and become the saleswoman. I embraced the support from my family and went to book signings, libraries, and my first ever anime convention to sell books. I’m sure most of you will agree, it can be very nerve-wrecking to put your work out there to the world. You’re vulnerable to both criticism and praise.
What I’ve learned is this: embrace your writing. Embrace yourself as a writer. I’ve learned over this course of time that I wasn’t simply marketing Shinobi 7, I was marketing myself. After all, it’s my fantasy and imagination that I’m sharing with the world, right? The most valuable thing I’ve come to learn is to love my work. I love my characters, the scenes inside, my own jokes, and the joy of writing. Other people may not agree; that’s alright. Not everyone can like the same things!
By choosing to self-publish, I took on the challenge of making a name for myself. There’s a lot of work to that, more than I initially thought. However, from everything I’ve learned, I don’t wish for a reset. It’s my goal to publish all of the Shinobi 7 Series books and many more after. So long as I’m improving and having fun, it’s worth it to me.
Lastly, if you’re someone who enjoys writing, I want to tell you to keep doing it! Maybe one day you’ll decide to publish (traditionally or independently) and maybe you won’t. Research the pros and cons of both choices and make sure you’re confident in your decision. Most importantly, make sure you’re happy with your work. If you embrace yourself, you’ll be surprised how much of a difference that truly makes.
Lily Benitez is a 19 year old writer from the USA. She is a fantasy writer who loves to read anything fiction.