What I've learned after a year of self publishing.

Writing a book is the easy part. 

I had no idea, I mean none, how much work happened after you were done writing. And I'm not talking about critiques, beta reading, the cover, editing, proofreading, or formatting. I'm not even talking about figuring out if you should buy your own ISBN's or what vendors you should publish on.

I'm talking about marketing. Promotion. 

The single hardest thing (in my opinion) about writing a book. Not only are there a gazillion other books you have to compete against (and I mean that in the friendliest way possible), 
but those books are attached to incredibly talented authors. 
And some authors are marketing geniuses. 
Some of them have more sales of their first book in pre orders alone than you do all of your books combined. 
Another one may know somebody who has an amazing ability to pimp the crap out of them. 
Or hell, they may know how to pimp themselves. 
Maybe they have an outgoing personality and are naturally funny. 
Some are the opposite and very introverted and have a hard time talking about themselves. 
Some could care less about sales and are just happy to have a book available for others to read. 
I'd bet some are even afraid that if all the hard work does pay off, that when readers do finally discover their book, they're going to hate it and rip it to shreds. 
Some, like myself, are slowly but surely finding things out as they go. They're struggling every day with what they should do to get their name out there. They're constantly questioning if what they did was right or wrong. (Would doing X have made Y better? If I did A maybe B would have turned out different. Should I have done this instead? Why the fuck didn't I think of that?)  

And guess what? Whatever direction an author chooses to market/promote their book(s)...
There is not one of those authors who is right or wrong or better than someone else.
What works for one might not for another. Maybe some authors have connections, or luck. Maybe some have worked for years to get to where they are. Maybe one has hit every best seller list with one book, and it took another seventeen books and twelve years. 
I admit, I was shocked at just how much work it entailed, how much time, how much research was involved in the post-publishing/marketing/promotion aspect of this business. Much more than I anticipated and definitely a hell of a lot more stressful than I ever thought possible. 

Ya know what else? 
I have yet to come across an author who has been a bitch to me. And it's funny, because you would think that other women who you are in direct competition with would be catty and turn their nose up at a new author who randomly sends them a PM with a question. (Yes, I've done that... multiple times!) But nope. They're nothing but supportive and willing to help. I've been brought to tears by the kindness in this community of fellow writers. 
(Bloggers and readers will get their own posts... because they deserve it!)

Something else that I'm surprised about is that I'm totally okay with whatever direction this journey leads me. Sure it may have taken me a little while to realize that. To learn to be happy with my accomplishments and not compare them to someone else's; but that's life isn't it? Much like writing, it's a process and a journey. It's learning to accept and embrace the blessings you're given. It's being excited to turn the page and not know what's on the next one, and that when you reach the end of the book, an unexpected cliffhanger will leave you unsure, yet excited, about the future. 

As I continue working on one of about six books I have started, I'm trying not to worry about what I need to do after it's done. I'm trying to remember why I started writing in the first place, trying to enjoy writing like I used to. Because, really, that's why I started this... because I love to write. 
And I'm really going to hope that while I'm doing that, someone stumbles across one of my books and loves the words that I've written.