One year ago, I crossed the line between 'hobbyist' and 'professional'. Now I'm looking back on it and sharing my experience.
I read so much about publishing while I was writing A Mage's Power and it was intimidating stuff. Simply finding an agent was a major step that could take months. Finding a publisher was supposed to be even harder and there were lots of little things that could hurt a first timer's chances. All of it together made the idea of publishing seem like a pipe dream. That's why I'm glad I went into self-publishing. There's more control, more royalties, and so much easier and faster. I'm working on the sequel, Looming Shadow, and only the final arc remains to be revised. Publishing a series will be a different experience and I'm looking forward to it.
2. Royalties and Pirates
Royalties are great for two reasons; reader validation and pocket change. It's validating to move from a fanfiction writer into original fiction and to see people paying to read it; investing time and money in my work. The pocket change is nothing to live on to be sure but it's enough to pay for my writing snacks or some other small treat without touching my day job's paycheck.
As a result of this, I've had to deal with pirates. It's given me a new perspective on the media that I purchase myself; both empathy and sympathy now that I'm in the same boat. On one hand it's frustrating because they're stealing from me, but on the other hand, they're still reading my book and hopefully enjoying it. If they made fan content (fanart, fanfiction, a tvtropes page, etc) that would be payment enough (I'd still prefer they pay the 99 cents, of course).
3. Lessons Learned.
If I go back to college for a Masters or something, I will never complain about revising a ten, twenty or even fifty page paper because it could not be worse than revising a 200+ page novel. I went through A Mage's Power three times after I thought I found all the errors and there was still a truckload of them. It was a lesson in humility that cost me the equivalent of several days out of my finite life span. Looking back, I should have sent it to a proofer before those three times. If nothing else, my negative reviewers couldn't complain about grammar or spelling problems.
Speaking of the reviewers, some of them surprised me. A number of them accused me of ripping off the manga/anime Naruto. While it was an influence, it wasn't the main or most important influence. I'm surprised no one's spotted those yet but I suppose it has to do with exposure. Naruto is certainly the most popular of my influences and also the newest since it's still on-going as of this post. I'll give you all a hint: they begin with an S and there are more hints elsewhere.
"If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door."
What Mr.Emerson neglected to include was spreading the word about this better mousetrap and convincing them that it is, indeed, better. I've looked into various forms of advertising since then and most of them involve Twitter, which is a comment in its favor. I've also looked into Book Awards for that mark of distinction.
4. Second Work
Revising the sequel to Looming Shadow has taken geologically longer than I thought it would. Each chapter is like turning over a stone and finding dead bugs because I overhaul each one but I don't realize the extent of the revisions until I reach the chapter. That's the benefit of a long break but the thing is, I've already taken a long break before. Perhaps it wasn't long enough or I didn't know the story well enough. In either case, I'm at the final arc. Hopefully it will be done, beta read, proofed, published and advertised before this time next year. I'm shooting for some time before summer.