So put down your manuscript, save your file on your laptop, and ignore your social media for a minute or five and ask yourself :
When you started to write, what were your dreams? What are they now?
Challenge yourself to be honest (no editing!) and note down all of your answers to this question. If you've more than one, consider whether any dreams or aspirations rank higher than the others.
So let's say that you've done that. What does that mean for your publishing career?
The Big Money Option
It is very well suited to the e-novella style, stories that are significantly shorter than the more conventional novel, so probably 100-150 pages. You'll probably publish exclusively in eBook format, so will need to ensure that your eBooks are available across as many platforms as is feasible to you. Your price point will be keen, because you're going for volume.
Alternatively, you'll be writing and publishing books that can appeal widely with add-on potential, such as business books, childrens books with toy link options and so on.
You don't have to produce a paperback to make money from indie publishing, but it will help you reach more readers (remember that there are many book buyers who simply hate the eBook format). The various platforms can help you reach the major retail book-buyers and public libraries, but bear in mind that the retailers set the final selling price. This option is therefore very well suited to getting your book onto shelves: the book-buying public will see it and your name will get known, even if you don't make money per se. If you decide to pursue this option, bear in mind the notes below about the Four Features of a successful paperback.
The Prize Winner
In either case, you will need to focus heavily on the Four Features of the Successful Paperback:
(i) - Preparation - proof for grammar, proof for spelling, and edit ruthlessly. There are no alternatives to this - bear in mind that these three steps would be followed by a mainstream publishing house, and for very good reason. In fact, doing this will distinguish your work from many indie eBooks, which often contain the occasional typo, spelling or grammar mistake.
Professional proofers and editors charge big bucks. If money is hard to come by, consider whether you know any college majors, teachers, A Level, Sophomore or Junior College students with English as a speciality. Would any of them appreciate earning some extra money in return for proofing or editing your book? It would be worth asking.
(ii) The Title - there is no dodging this. Ask people what they think of your ideas, take on board any relevant critiques, and make changes. Your manuscript needs to stand out from the slush pile.
(iii) The Cover - you need a great cover that stands out from the crowd, something that catches the eye in thumbnail size on screen or in catalogues. It ought to convey the story.
(iv) Intellectual Property - you need to ensure that you own your intellectual property, as far as is reasonably possible. For example, can you use the same title as someone else? Have you copyrighted your manuscript? Have you granted anyone the right to use it (e.g. in a competition entry?) Do you maintain your ownership in your social media dealings? Do you have your own ISBN? Take yourself seriously and look at all of the angles.
The Movie Deal
The big difference is that for this to work you will need to really up your marketing effort. You need reviews. You need a social media presence. You need entries to competitions. You need relentless submissions to literary agencies.
In short, you'll need to do anything that will enable your book to be picked up. It will probably be a long, hard haul and your book will be rejected many times.
You'll develop a thick skin if nothing else.
Your Name On The Spine Of A Book
If you're lucky enough to have been born into a family of published writers this may well not mean much, but for a lot of new writers this is a biggie. This will see you opt to publish in paperback format, probably on demand. You may pass a few copies to friends and family. You may even write more than one book, in time.
You couldn't give a hoot about social media.
You'll be happy and contented...
So What's Your Dream?
And once you do? Pursue it with all your vigour! This is your book and your life.
Go for it!