1. Self-publishing is easy
I cannot impress this upon you enough: self-publishing is a ton of work. More than just writing a book, you’re also responsible for editing, formatting, cover design, and handling all marketing efforts. When I self-published my first book—a direct sequel to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden—I was genuinely surprised by how arduous the entire process was. Beyond the writing and clerical tasks that one might expect, living in a pop-up camper on an isolated body of water for two-plus years proved incredibly difficult and ultimately, somewhat psychologically damaging.

2. Self-publishing will make you rich
My friend, if it’s riches you seek, then you might not want to go the self-publishing route. While royalty rates might be better for self-publishing than with traditional publishing houses, you’ll find that it’s infinitely harder to find an audience. When I self-published Walden Too, also known as My Crazy Life in the Woods, I actually lost significant amounts of money. Not just because the book didn’t sell, which it didn’t, but because I stopped working for several years to live in the woods and reflect on my natural surroundings. Moreover, I found myself knee-deep in medical bills after an incident in which I had a bit too much to drink one evening and mistook a baby black bear for a house cat. Bills that I am still actively trying to get out from under.

3. Self-publishing a sequel to Walden is a good idea
This is a big one! When you tell people that you think Walden is prime for an update and that your reimagining is precisely what modern literature needs and they agree with you, make sure you really look them in the eye to gauge how sincere they are. Because the second you purchase that camper off Craigslist and park it illegally on a small body of water in the most remote part of the state, those same people might get pretty damn quiet. Also a good idea: consider what your motivations are for self-publishing an unauthorized sequel to one of the most well-known and studied American texts of all time. Are you looking for attention, fame, or to show your ex-girlfriend, Liz, that you can actually finish something? If the answer is yes to any of those three, particularly the last one, you might want to consider doing something else instead, like joining a gym.

4. Your parents will love you more if you self-publish your own sequel to Walden
Without getting too deep into the woods (ha ha) on this, they definitely won’t love you more. If your experience is anything like mine, your parents will vacillate between confusion, concern, and eventually vitriol. They’ll ask you questions like “Are you doing this to get Liz back?” and “Have you ever even read the original Walden?” And you’ll tell them that you’re really not supposed to be using your phone, because Thoreau didn’t have one, and you want to try to simulate the experience he had. Your mom, when she completes her weekly check-in, will ask, “Did Thoreau’s mother do his laundry?” and you’ll smugly respond that actually, records indicate that she, in fact, did.

5. By self-publishing something, you will be able to win back your ex-girlfriend, Liz
If there is one thing I want you to take away, then it’s this: self-publishing your own sequel to Walden will not win back your girlfriend, Liz. Ever misguided, you went about your new artistic endeavor with the same zest and zeal as when you used to sit down alone to your Playstation 4 and a two-liter of Pepsi on all those Friday nights when you were together. In tackling this text, you made the classic mistake: you forgot that not all attention is good attention. So when you went completely off the map, bought a camper, tried, and eventually failed, to grow all your own food, and stopped answering your phone, instead of eliciting feelings of pride or excitement at your would-be creative accomplishment, you made her feel worried and anxious. And even though you believe you were ultimately pursuing something that could have been canonically great and culturally important, to Liz it all seemed kind of “manipulative” and “weird.” After two and a half years of living on some dirty pond and after selling just eight copies of your self-published novel… you realize that she and everyone else in your life has moved on.

For more, check out my newest self-published book 52 Misconceptions About Self-Publishing (Your Own Unauthorized Sequel to Walden) wherever books are sold.*