Practice, Practice, Practice

You’ve probably heard that old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Click the link – it’s a cool little New York Times story about Jack Benny and the origins of the joke.

But I digress, which seems to be a problem today as I am getting no writing done. Bleh, Mondays.

Anyway, I was toodling around on some message boards this morning, and there was a question from someone who was getting ready to publish his first book, and then I got an email from someone, and then I started thinking about a blog post I read the other day about self-publishing, and now my mind is wandering so I need to do a brain dump so I can make room in there for what I need to be doing. Whee, run-on sentence!

There was another thread on the message board from someone who was complaining about 1-star reviews on a couple of short pieces they had published as free downloads. As far as I could tell, this person’s beef was that these were practice pieces and s/he didn’t want any reviews on them because they weren’t very good. Sorry, poppet, but once you’ve got something out there, someone’s going to have an opinion about it, and you won’t always like it.

Self-publishing is here, and it’s working for a lot of people. It’s easy, which is good, but it’s also bad. Now anyone with an internet connection can publish. Again, obviously, both good and bad. The thing this author did, that I can’t understand, is put something out there that s/he wasn’t proud of and didn’t want people to read.

Self-publishing is easy, but it is also a little tricky and fiddly. You have to get everything formatted just so, you need a cover that’s the right size, you have to navigate the forms and make choices and so on. I can see how someone would want to practice before taking the big plunge.

So practice, by all means. But do it with your best show piece. Keep those practice pieces to yourself. If you’ve ever visited a university music department, you’ve seen that the practice rooms are soundproofed. Think of your writing this way – practice behind closed doors, and then perform your best work for your audience.

When you’re ready to practice the mechanics of self-publishing, do it with your show piece – put it out there when it’s ready, not before. Chances are that after it’s gone live online you will find some things that need to be fixed – you can do that easily on Amazon by uploading a new file to overwrite the old one. It’s a learning process, no doubt, but don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be!