My Life After Self-Publishing

Michael Davidson

[1] How It All Starts

If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with this trend. First you write something on paper. Then you read what you wrote and hate it. Hate it so badly you get depressed. Then you muster up the courage to edit what you wrote. And, to your surprise, it gets better.

From paper you turn to word processor, it’s more practical. You start new ‘docs’ and write a paragraph, maybe a page, then you save it. You’re making progress. Again, when you read what you wrote, you hate it so badly you want to choke.

You close the ‘doc’ and the next day you feel better because you pet your dog. So, you edit what you wrote and (wow) you like it. You start submitting your writing to different places online, hoping to get published. When it happens your heart beats madly.

You don’t know it yet but you’re actually high. You’re one step closer to becoming an addict. You write again until you get published again. This time in print! You get a contributor’s copy and there is no stopping you. Your author bio shines. Life is good. Boost.


[2] What Happens Next?

You start a blog. Why wait to hear back from editors when you can publish on your own? You pump out posts. You start getting comments. You meet other writers online. Friendships form.

You start a Facebook page and (what’s this?) people ‘like’ you. You start a Twitter account and (you’re kidding me) people ‘follow’ you. You study the people who are doing things better than you. To learn from them. You feel like you can get there.

You read about self-publishing, how it’s changing the literary landscape. There is no gatekeeper anymore. No one to reject what you write. If you want, you can finish your novel, edit it to your idea of perfection, and deliver it to ereaders around the world.

You can even make POD copies to take with you on local readings.


[3] Things Get Interesting

Like most of you, I did all of this because I wanted to write, I wanted to get inside people’s brains and walk around lovingly, but I took a slightly different road to becoming an author.

When I self-published my novel, I didn’t do it digitally as an ebook. I did it as a handpressed paperback. I only published digitally several months later.

Because I used a small jig to make my paperbacks, and because the acronym for my website is TOE, I started an imprint: Tiny TOE Press. It seemed like the logical next step. What I didn’t expect were other writers interested in getting their stories published the same way I did mine.

POD was too generic for them. If possible, they preferred having their stories made by hand too, even with our limited distribution. DIY is a very human thing. It is authentic. It has charisma. So, I started reading their manuscripts.

Obviously I wasn’t about to publish them all. I’m only one, and so many stories don’t speak to one. But, every now and then, a story comes to me that I fall in love with, and I feel a pulse behind the words, and then magical things happen and the book becomes a part of the Tiny TOE family.


[4] So What, Man!

Why is any of this relevant to you? Surely I didn’t just waste your time telling my story without you even asking? Don’t worry, I’m writing this ‘column’ because I want to share the little things Tiny TOE Press is doing to grow its social media presence, so they may help you grow yours.

TOE is trying to think outside the box to keep things interesting for both us and the people who follow our developments. I’m not trained in publishing or marketing. I’m only a person who stubbornly writes in the face of the world.

But 1.5 weeks ago I put my thinking cap on and came up with a simple idea that has worked. I designed a contest, a book giveaway that has become a kind of passive engine that I’d like to fine tune. On June 4th, I tweeted the following:

9 days later 31 people have retweeted our contest and, more importantly, many positive interactions have happened on Twitter. We are getting to know our audience like never before. They are really great. But those 31 retweets aren’t the only interesting number.

The shortened link in this tweet leads to an ‘old school’ landing page that gives 3 options to enter our book giveaway. They can either: (a) retweet (b) like (c) subscribe. Some people have done all three. In this way, our contest is generating outside involvement in more than just Twitter.

Like I said, it’s a simple idea, but it’s working. There’s wind in our sails, thankfully. Feel free to try it out, giving it your own spin.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’d love to field your questions and get your feedback. We are actively trying to be the best we can be, and the only way this can happen is with your participation.

  • ‘Lolly’ Hackshaw

    Really enjoyed reading about your self-publishing journey! Very inspiring I’m going to follow your twitter page!

Michael Davidson

In 2011, Michael Davidson learned how to handpress paperback novels right on his kitchen table. Together with his future-wife, Bridget, he founded the enterprise Tiny TOE Press. After self-publishing 'Austin Nights' to critical acclaim within the small/indie press community, they published 3 more books under their DIY imprint: 'The Mosquito Song' by M.L. Kennedy; 'Miss Gone-overseas' by Mitchell Hagerstrom; 'Heart of Scorpio' by Joseph Avski. Tiny TOE Press will release 2 new titles this fall: 'The Persistence of Crows' by Grant Maierhofer; 'Rarity of the Century' by Fawzy Zablah. You can connect with Michael on Twitter and he'd totally love it if you did: @herocious/@TinyTOEPress.

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