I Self-Published: What Next? A Guest Post from Devon Trevarrow Flaherty

Today we have a guest post from Devon Trevarrow Flaherty, who’s just self-published her first novel, Benevolent, and is feeling the post-publication blues…

‘From last summer, when I officially decided to self-publish my first novel, Benevolent, until now, I have gone through many stages of publishing. You could label these stages logically, like “editing,” “cover creation,” or “launching.” You could also label them emotionally.

The current stage is depressed.

Yeah, yeah; publishing your first book and launching it is exciting. For about a second. Because what happens next, when you self-publish, is almost always going to be a resounding silence. The dreaded yellow light. The I-just-spent-months-getting-bloggers-to-host-me-and-herding-people-to-my-reading-and-even-the-newpaper-featured-me-and-everyone-said-they-love-the-book chasm of what next?. It’s not easy. It makes me want to curl up with tater tots and red wine and all six seasons of Ugly Betty. (Okay, so I do succumb, some.) Who knows what’s calling to you? I’m betting it’s not Irish jigs and flowing bubbly, not anymore.


So, really, what next?

In my ideal world, I would spend the next seventy years during the work day sipping tea in my study (I don’t actually have one of those, yet), spending about half of each day promoting my last book and the other half writing the next one. Well, ideally I would be kicking back and just writing away in Tahiti and not giving a fig about promotion, but let’s at least shoot for attainable dreams, okay? And this can happen, as long as some people buy each book along the way. Several thousand, really. And then I have to keep publishing.

Well, I’m willing to keep up my end of the writing-publishing (and even marketing) bargain, as long as a whole lotta someone elses hold up their end of the buying-reading.

The issue is first and foremost one of perspiration. Then one of endurance. (Sounds sporty, doesn’t it?) If you haven’t put your blood, sweat, and tears into your book creating, editing and promoting, you need to move back a step and do that. But now that I have, I am back into the endurance phase. Actually, I never left it and I may never leave the endurance phase, which is why it is called endurance. Every day carries with it the choice to keep working at selling one book and writing another. Let’s face it: on the day of my reading I was too busy celebrating to work. So all emotional phases of writing are wrought with pitfalls.

It is completely normal for a book to lag in sales until it catches one big (or many smaller) wave(s) of interest, somewhere, somehow. In the meantime, you have to keep the book afloat, keep the dream alive. Plenty of days are going to feel like the desert of no- or even negative-feedback. Elongate your perspective and keep on moving, even on the most hopeless of days. If you give up now, it’s true: you’ll never make it. The only way to get to what you want is to thunk one foot down in front of the tentative other, day after day after day.

And here’s what you do next: You continue to be present on the internet, looking for people to try your book or to promote you. You talk about your book, to strangers or to bookstore audiences or to newspaper editors. You do more giveaways, more Tweets, keep blogging. You enter contests, beg for reviews. And you write. That’s what’s at the heart of all this, and that’s what has got me back in the game. I sat down yesterday (trying to ignore the three-star rating that had just blemished my GoodReads reputation), and started in on chapter two of the book I have been waiting to write, all this time. And I loved it! I do love it. That’s why I chose writing as a career. And I’m sure there are a bazillion more times when editing, publishing and marketing are going to feel blah. Thank goodness, then, that I will still have writing.

But love is a tricky word. In my world, love isn’t always a tickly, wonderful feeling. Love is equate-able with commitment. Sure, sometimes you feel warm and fuzzy toward your mom, but most the time you’re just being loyal when you accept her invitation to coffee. That’s love. So you sometimes have writer’s block? You still love writing. You are a writer. Any hey, we’re right back where we were a few paragraphs ago: endurance. Cuz even in-love people get depressed.

Choose each day to be a writer, and you’re already there.’

devonAbout Devon:

Devon is a writer in the Durham, North Carolina area. She is originally from metro Detroit, Michigan. She is a mommy, a wife, a hobby yogi, photographer, painter, and foodie. She has been writing seriously since her very earliest brushes with literature, and has published articles, poems, and photography in literary journals and magazines. She was an assistant editor and freelance editor for 10 years, during which she wrote copy for and contributed to various research materials. She has been blogging since 2008, first with The Green Notebook and then with The Starving Artist. She has started living her dream with the independent release of her first novel, Benevolent.

About Benevolent:

Gaby LeFevre is a suburban, Midwestern firecracker, growing up in the 80s and 90s and looking to save the world one homeless person, centenarian, and orphan at a time. With her crew of twin sister, Annie, smitten Mikhail, frenemy Mel, she’s a pamphlet-wielding humanitarian, tackling a broken world full of heroes and heroines, villains and magical seeds, and saturated with variations of the Northwyth legends.

Beginning with a roadkill-burying nine-year-old and a gas-leak explosion, Benevolent follows Gaby from her formative years; through her awakening (during a soup kitchen stampede); through high school drama; a college career filled with an epic term paper, a building fire, and a protest-gone-bad; to Israel, a land full of romance and mysticism. It all ends back in metro-Detroit with a cataclysmic clash to resolve all good intentions. Accidents abound in Gaby’s life. As does love. And, thankfully, as does mercy.

Meanwhile, Benevolent is woven with tales of The Queen, The Angel, Jaden the Great, and The Sage. Are they figments of John’s and Mercedes’ imaginative stories? Or are they something more? You’ll want to find out for yourself.

Find out more on www.devontrevarrowflaherty.com and www.benevolentthenovel.com.

Thanks Devon!

14 thoughts on “I Self-Published: What Next? A Guest Post from Devon Trevarrow Flaherty

  1. mandilynnwrites says:

    I’ve thought about what will happen after I self-publish my book in August and started thinking the same things. In a way getting the book published is the easy part because you have a game plan but then after that…it’s kind of a free for all.

    • Devon Trevarrow Flaherty says:

      Well part of the issue is the repetition paired with a lack of immediate gratification. For me, BEFORE the publication was not like that. You had a goal, you could see yourself moving toward it.

      Good luck to you! And make sure to celebrate that publication!

  2. Barbara Forte Abate says:

    Beautifully said, honest and true. The two questions I know to expect at every family gathering, social chit-chat event, and bump-into-friend-in-line-at-the-grocery-store, are “Hows the book going?” and “Are you working on a new book?” (And yes, there is the truly rude and creepy, “How’s that book of yours selling?”) Simple enough inquiries to the asker, potentially excruciating for the questioned. So yeah, my standard response is “oh just lovely … blah, blah … generic blah blah response, ” rather than the messy, complicated, often discomforting and uncertain facts.

    I’m so happy to be reading this marvelous post first thing this AM. You sum it up beautifully, Devon. It’s really about the writing. And love. Climbing over those 3 Star reviews, all the while holding fast to what we love.

  3. Joanna (Lazuli Portals Trilogy) says:

    I agree, Devon. The writing is the absolute heart of it; everything else is endurance, exactly as you say. Some days I wonder if I have the stamina for it. Then I work on a new story, or write some flash fiction, and I know that the writing drug will always be in my system. And that gives me heart. 😉

    BTW I’ve kind of bought too many books already this month, so I’ve just downloaded a Kindle sample of Benevolent. Sorry it’s not a sale yet, although I expect it will be soon!

    Good luck with it and with all your future books.

  4. Ali Isaac says:

    Yep! I know the feeling. I’m right there with you at the moment. It’s soul- destroying at times, but impossible to give up! A real love-hate thing. You’ve just got to keep on going…

  5. Alison R. Lockwood (@alisonrlockwood) says:

    Thank you for this, Devon. Not that misery loves company, but I was feeling a little depressed this week (crickets chirping on Amazon), and you reminded me to keep plugging. To be honest, I wanted this to be a process of: 1) launch, 2) great reviews and word-of-mouth buzz, 3) the book selling itself. Ah, hubris. It’s a whole lot of work and always will be. Time to get back to it!

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