Tanya S. Thamkruphat
Living and Learning from the Self-Publishing Dream
By Tanya Sangpun Thamkruphat
I started consistently writing poetry in 2015, after the ending of a painful divorce. I have been writing poetry regularly for the last three years, and I can confidently say I found my writing niche. I started posting poems I would write on the fly on my social media accounts, and discovered a huge supportive and growing poetry community. I also discovered poetry authors, mainstream and indie ones alike. I was enthralled by their writing and their writing journey, especially the indie authors. Self-publishing had been a trend for the last handful of years at the time, and it was growing. And, I was very interested.
By the beginning of 2018, I already had enough poems to make into two full-length books. I started editing all the poems I had, and then started thinking about how to divide my poems into books and thread a theme through them. Once that was done, I pitched my first poetry book in April 2018 to a famous publisher who was home to many of the popular and trendy Instapoets. In that same month, I participated in National Poetry Month by attempting to write a poem a day. I ended up writing 23 poems, and 20 of those formed my first self-published, poetry book (a chapbook, to be exact), Life Instructions. However, I didn’t publish the book until the very end of 2018. I was holding out for a response from the publisher about my full-length poetry book. I realized by fall 2018 I wasn’t going to get a response, and was a bit disappointed. My almost daily writing decreased, and I started to lose hope, even though I had only submitted to one publisher. I perked up again when there was a submission call from another big publisher. I took that first full-length poetry book and submitted my pitch to them. Since authors wouldn’t be selected until early 2019, I decided to take a leap, and self-publish Life Instructions.
Self-publishing has been a learning experience! I started where most writers have, and that was with Amazon KDP. Formatting Life Instructionsfor the Kindle e-book version was very straight forward, and there were plenty of articles, videos, and tools to help me format my book. That took me less time than it did with formatting my book for the paperback version. I had a very difficult time keeping the formatting the way I wanted for the paperback, even with the templates provided by Amazon. And, in no time, my book was self-published.
I can understand why editors, peer reviewers, book cover designers, and book formatters are important and why it is definitely worth paying for necessary editing and design services. However, it was so fulfilling to able to do everything myself, from the content creation to packaging content.
Once Life Instructionswas released, I was ecstatic. A dream had finally come to life! I wanted all of my family and friends to know, but I didn’t promote my chapbook much because part of my writing goal wasn’t to spend time to intensely promote my release. If people bought it, that was great and I was very appreciative. If they didn’t, that was great, too. I just wanted to share my joy that I realized my writing dream.
I will say self-marketing is overwhelming, and I know it’s important if you want people to discover your writing. However, I have learned that I am okay with casually promoting my writing when I feel like it. I would rather focus on writing and self-publishing. And, that makes me most happy as a writer.
Submitting to publishers is still a learning experience to become more patient. But, I have learned a lot about myself as a writer and about my writing, and I am glad to have opportunities to submit to publishers, if I feel like it. Self-publishing has been a freeing and joyous experience. You truly feel like well-rounded author because you not only are in charge of the writing side, but you are also in charge of the editing/publishing side of it.
There are still plenty of lessons to learn as I continue my self-publishing journey, but I am glad to finally to be traveling it.