The Next Stumble on my Self-Publishing Journey
Dammit, I’m an author, not a marketer, layout artist, proofreader, cover designer, publicist, interviewee, cartographer…
But wait. I chose to self-publish. And if ya wanna do it right, ya gotta do all those things and more!
Sometimes I need to remember what brought me here in the first place and just sit down and write, but finding the time to do that when you’re caught up in the myriad of other jobs can be a challenge, and it makes for some very strange moments – like feeling guilty about fiction writing because you need to get the newsletter out or write letters to reviewers. I tell myself it would be easier if I was able to write full-time. I could just divide my day into strict time zones – mornings for writing, afternoons for marketing and the rest of the writing-related things that need doing. All my full-time-writing friends are giving me the stink eye (or laughing quiety behind their covid masks. I can feel it.
“Oh, yeah,” they say. “Just you wait. We’ll see how that works out for you.”
My biggest challenge so far has been dealing with the tech side of launching a website and a newsletter. A friend helped me work out some glitches and clean up links and whatnot after I initially designed and set up my website, but I’ve recently run into what feels like insurmountable barriers trying to send out newsletters with Mailchimp. I first used the app about six years ago when I was working for a magazine publisher. In addition to editing the print editions of three of the magazines, I was doing weekly newsletters for each title. They used Mailchimp and I found it clunky and counterintuitive. I did eventually get quite good at it, despite the Himalayan learning curve. When it came time to put out my own newsletter, I already had Mailchimp installed on my computer. I figured all the other NL apps would be just as bad. Better the devil you know, right? And the interface had been revised and updated. It had to be easier now. They had to have worked out some of the annoying quirks. Or so I thought.
It took me almost a week to get back up to speed with the design interface – which is still like driving a bumper car at a Corvette rally. But I persevered and actually came up with a nice looking newsletter.
It wasn’t until I went to send it that I started pulling out what’s left of my hair. The first time I hit send, Mail Chimp explained that it couldn’t/I shouldn’t send newsletters from a g-mail address, because they would surely end up in everyone’s spam. Rather than telling me this when I signed up with a g-mail address, it waited until I hit send – after investing tens of hours in actually creating the NL. (to be fair, it was in the documentation - the reams and reams of documentation that I didn't bother reading.
Ah well. It seemed like a minor problem. I’m not sure how I ended up getting my domain from name.com or why I went on to sign onto their hosting plan but I did. And I figured, “surely it must include an e-mail address or two. Except it didn’t. So I bought the e-mail separately, then went back to Mailchimp and eagerly hit send.
Did you know that even with an owned webmail account you have to verify it, and then you need to authorize it – but it can’t be authorized without dropping some dkim code into your host server’s DNS. Quite an ask for someone who wasn’t even sure what a DNS is.
I tried. And I tried. And I’ve now reached my nineteenth nervous breakdown and still don’t have the freaking newsletter out.
Seems MailChimp and Name.com don’t quite agree on where that code should go where. I also learned that CPanel and Wordpress don’t co-exist. Which makes sense if I think hard enough about it. But name.com did answer my support request, so I’m all ready to do what they suggest and find out if that’s good enough for Mailchimp. Yes, my brain hurts. No I'm not sure if this - if anything - will work
Dammit. I’m an author, not a techie! But I’m learning, very, very slowly. My launch isn’t until November 14th, and I should be able to get at least one or two newsletters out by then. Shouldn’t I????