Don Beckworth: From Insta to Indie

 

I started writing seriously a few years ago. Admittedly, it was after a fairly hard break-up. Still, I had discovered an outlet that let me express myself, or, rather, vent my feelings in a creative way. It was only when I installed Instagram that I discovered the vast world of writers and poets that literally spans the globe. Thus began my foray into the realm of what I dub “instapoetry” or “photoetry.” Having originally started my account as a personal account, then progressing into amateur photography; I found that I had a knack for poetry. I’ve been using Instagram as my main source of initial publication ever since.

That being said, my experiences relating to finding a credible way to publish my work has been difficult. Traditional publishing is confusing and costs more than I can afford at the moment. So, after many days scouring Google for options, I settled on CreateSpace.  CreateSpace enables writers to upload their books for free while recouping publishing costs as books are printed. With any venture like this, however, there are pros and cons. Pros: cheap, many options, different formats, markets directly to Amazon and Kindle. Cons: Only paperback options, limited paper choices, full color printing is expensive, not all countries are available for shipping (no true worldwide distribution capability). All-in-all, CreateSpace has been the best choice so far. To date though, I’ve sold a whopping 14 copies of all three available titles, and given away way more .pdf versions.

The difficult part of self-publishing lies in marketing yourself. A self-published author not only has to sell their work, they have to sell themselves. In the world of poetry, readers tend to blend their idea of what poetry should be with their image of what a poet should be. In essence, the poetry and the poet are almost always the same thing. If readers do not consider the poet—in themselves even without their writing—worth following, readers will usually not follow for very long. Gaining a solid readership is proving to be extremely difficult. Anyone can post short snippet "instapoems" and gain thousands of followers in a short time, but that isn’t what I want. I want not only a good solid readership, but cohorts and mentors to learn with and from. So, I take pains to be somewhat selective in who/what I pay attention on social media. Authentic, genuine writers are hard to find. Instapoets, Wattpad, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest writers are a dime a dozen. Every market on the planet is saturated with everyone competing for readership. As a result, only those who are able to engage outside influence—publishers, marketing firms, etc.—are able to elevate their stature in what is considered to be the Independent (Indie) writer’s world.

Of late, I’ve noticed an influx of new quote\unquote “writer’s platforms.” Most notably, Mirakee, ByMePoetry, Indie Affair Magazine are the most reliable in terms of exposure. Mirakee primarily has a large community of overseas writers who are based out if Asia, Indonesia, The Middle East, Australia, and even the Philippines. ByMePoetry is a start-up that has been doing well in taking varied types of submissions, and a really good job of promoting authors. Indie Affair Magazine is fast gaining steam with a more in depth type of publication. I look forward to seeing just how big Indie gets in the coming years. These are just three of the free promotion portals that writers can use, that I have used, and that are really of any benefit to self-publishing authors.

The flipside to free is an insurgence of “coaches”, “advisors”, and “writer’s portals” that push their offers of increased publicity, sales, and readership. From what I’ve seen, most are bait-and-switch type of operations.  Sadly, publishing houses and bookstores are even jumping on the bandwagon. While I am absolutely sure that there are genuine advisors who are well worth the money, the over-population of self-help coaches wanting to market your product frightens me. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve chosen to remain self-published for now. Like other writers who have chosen this route, I’ve been asked to be an early contributor for several start-up sites. There are many, and I get at least one or two per month asking me to be an early contributor to their site. The idea is, we help populate their site with content, and in time, we receive regular publicity. This, however, has proved to be staggeringly untrue, at least in my experience. This doesn’t mean that I necessarily look unfavorably on such sites. In fact, the opposite is true. I believe the world of independent publishing is going through a metamorphosis. While traditional publishing remains the goal of almost everyone, self-publish is gaining in popularity. The catch-22 is, because you are self-published, many readers expect you to give your work away for free.

Having the work instantly available on any platform, in my opinion, helps and hinders writers. The good writers—the excellent poets—expand their work to an offline format. They try to go beyond the little square windows of instant gratification. We, and I include myself also, endeavor to be more than a five second read-and-scroll author. We want our work to last. I want my work to last. I want it to become more than I am. As a result, I’ve had the privilege to be a beta reader for a few poetry books and even a novel. I’m currently beta reading a book by Asper Blurry, who is originally based out of Europe. I’ve also read a soon to be released novel by Jackie Johnson. These kinds of connections are what I look for with my work in writing. The readership, I  believe, will come in time.

To-date, I’ve never been compared with the likes of Rumi or Bukowski. My work, while many enjoy, is rarely ever shared or reposted. I attribute this to what I discussed earlier. That my writing may be worthy of a share, but readers aren’t sold on who I am as a person enough to share my work yet. I’m not a recovering alcoholic, or semi-depressed opiate dependent. Nor am I an elite socialite, or a writer for a major publication. I’m simply a generic father of two living my life. My muse just happens to be an over achiever. Regardless of how many books get sold, or how many followers I have on a social media platform; I will be writing until I’m… well just until.

Don Beckworth is a 40 year old, recently married father of two smart and amazing teenagers. His normal day consists of working for a copier company (believe it or not) in an actual cubicle. In his spare time, he writes poetry, short stories, and a bit of photography. He's been publishing work of various kinds since 2012. More of his work can be found via my site: www.authordonbeckworth.weebly.com

Readers can contact me anytime via Instagram:

@authordonbeckworth

or by email: authordonbeckworth@gmail.com