Growing Your Roots Before Growing Your Tree

By Steffanie Costigan

March 2, 2024

It’s always been my dream to publish Land of the Dragon ever since I was 12 years old. I will admit when I dream, I really dream big however I am quite realistic at the same time even referred to at times as a pessimist. 

I knew I wanted to do big things with Land of the Dragon, I didn’t want to settle with my book just being published. At one time I was convinced that if I published it would be only through a traditional publishing house and not a small publishing company. I admit I used to say, “Self-publishing was book suicide. And nothing I would ever consider.” 

So, what made me have a change of heart towards the idea of Self-publishing? Going to post-secondary education I took almost everything I could of creative writing. In one of the classes I took we had the opportunity to speak with well-renowned mainly Canadian publishers. I was so shocked to talk to them personally and find out it was not as green on the side of traditional publishing as I imagined. 

Matter of fact most of the well-renowned publishers said they were leaving the traditional publishing houses and self-publishing their own works. One of the publishers even said she had felt like she had lost her voice as a writer due to the publishing house pushing the narrative they wanted into her stories.

From what I had learned I felt worried about publishing in a traditional publishing house. I started to interview self-publishers and quickly learned most self-publishers’ biggest mistake they make is going cheap with editing. What I mean by this is getting Uncle Joe to edit for free for you. Or having friends edit and beta read or format their books for them. I started to do reviews for self-publishers, and it helped me quickly identify and learn the dos and don’ts of self-publishing.

I noticed a pattern of the same mistakes being made by varying first-time self-publishers. The biggest challenge was the marketing for most. Marketing was a very different system than writing and putting together a book.

I decided if I was going to self-publish, I was going to ensure it was not done cheaply but was done with quality and high standards. I looked diligently not for just one professional editor but for a team of editors, each would focus on a specific type of edit that they personally loved doing and specialized in.

I realized if I was going to now have to market my book, I needed to gain some education on how to go about marketing. That is when I took Digital Communications and Media at my local college. It was a very intense program, to say the least, but I did learn a lot about digital marketing, how to also create marketing images on Photoshop the target audiences, the marketing mix, and the plan. I thought this was great I have set myself up for marketing my book well. 

Although I soon learned there is so much more to it than what I have learned, so many options and different approaches that it is a little overwhelming. The right connections you need to gain so much to do and learn. I am a full-time working mom with three kids and expecting my fourth. How in the world could I learn to do all of this with the time I had? It is this very thing that discourages self-published authors fast.

Being a journalist for my local paper makes me get very involved within the community. There is so much going on in the community so many opportunities with events, organizations, and clubs before becoming a journalist I had no idea there was so much going on in the community. 

I am starting to realize, as good as it is being consistent with digital marketing, as a first-time author you need to grow your roots before you can grow your tree. What I mean by this is I am noticing great results and fast growth when efforts are focused within the community. Establishing yourself within the community first and then expanding out is proving to yield promising fruits. 

With that said that doesn’t mean stopping digital marketing be consistent but grow from the roots up get involved more within your community then expand. I enjoyed so much having to opportunity to do a book signing event at my local Chapters, I loved seeing the people and talking with them the excitement they got from my book warmed my heart. I am super excited for the next event I will be attending at my local library on March 23, from 1 pm to 4 pm the “Local Author Fair.” 

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