The road to self-publishing can be a lonely one, bordered on each side by self-doubt, frustration, insecurity, inexperience and lack of a shoulder to cry upon.
Frequently you wonder about your goals. Why are you doing this? There's so much competition. Can you ever find a reader for your work? Will anyone like your writing? Should you just surrender and collect endless rejection slips until someone recognizes your talent and gives you a break?
I often ponder multiple choices after I've completed a project.
OK, you've typed “The End”. Now what? After nearly a year of inspiration, blind alleys, despair, and not-so-good passages followed by blazing insight and blinding speed, you've reached the end. What do you do next?
First, you need to edit this mess but can you trust yourself? After all, you're the one who created it. Do you trust the idiot who made endless mistakes (you) to be the one to correct them? Do you know enough with your limited experience to be able to find the errors? Does someone, someone wiser than you, have the solution to your dilemma? Where can you go to find help? Can you trust him or her?
Maybe if you send it to a publisher your problems will be solved. After all, they employ professional editors. But do you want to see it gathering electronic dust while someone else holds your precious work in their hands, maybe for months or a year at a time, only to receive a mail stating “Dear ___ we are unable to publish your novel ...”.
Should you hire someone, fearing that the work may never sell, or not sell enough to pay for the costs of editing? Who can you turn to? You don't know any editors. Which ones are the good ones and can you afford them?
If you self-publish the book which service do you choose? Do you want to offer it in print? Will anyone ever read it? No one knows you. How can you convince a reader to take a chance on an unknown author?
The list continues, but at some point you need to stop agonizing over the choices. If you felt good writing it and you gave it your best shot, if you did due diligence, went back and corrected as many errors as you could find, then maybe it's the time to get another opinion.
Family and friends frequently lie, fearful of offending you. (Most of my grown, adult children will not read my stuff. They're too busy, they can't read a sex scene that dad wrote without blushing, etc.). However, it's important that your spouse or significant-other support your efforts (mine does, enthusiastically).
Find a stranger, in fact several strangers. Bribe, cajole, coerce, plead, or twist arms. Find a critical person who will be honest with you if you reciprocate. Get several opinions. If the consensus is, it's trash, rewrite it, or put it aside and tackle the next one. Don't give up. (Also remember, one man's trash is another man's treasure.)
Join a writer's group like the Indie Writer's Group on Facebook and become involved. There, you'll learn a lot of skills, gain good information and meet your fellow writers.
If you feel that you've done your best. You've weeded out all of the errors you could find, and most importantly, you love reading it and you're proud of your efforts, then choose a site and publish it.
I choose Smashwords because it's free and gives you a reasonable presence in a large ocean of books. If you publish it for free or decide to sell it, be patient. It can take six months to a year before people notice you.
Finally, while waiting for reviews (which may never appear), reflect upon the goals you had when you started. Why did you do this? Did you want to make money and become a successful writer or did you do it for the fun and satisfaction? If the answer is the former, then I'm afraid your task has just begun, if the latter, relax. You've done it.
But maybe if I just put a web site up, a blog, a name on Facebook, and logged on to Tweeter, then maybe....