Two years ago I wrote an article for Morgen (‘with an e’) Bailey explaining why I turned to self-publishing. Morgen has a robust series of websites for the writer, http://www.novelwritinggroup.wordpress.com being the one for book authors. She lives in the United Kingdom and it’s fun to check in on what’s going on at her many websites
Now three years later after deciding to self-publish, I did an evaluation. While I’m not yet paying the monthly mortgage with royalties, I do have my books being read in France, Australia, England, Canada, not to mention the United States, and around the world. Not a month has gone by that I haven’t made something in royalties. Money is always in the “mailbox.” That’s exciting. Manuscripts that moldered in a draw for many years earning nothing now have bright covers and exciting stories within them and line my office shelf.
Total so far–six with one on the way.
It’s been hard work. I struggle every day over perfecting my grammar (and I have a Master’s degree in English and taught high school English) and trying to figure out how to market. That has been the biggest challenge. The English language is full of quirks and odd rules whereas marketing is even more difficult. I am not one who likes to tout my books, even though I am very proud of them. I have no idea what to tweet about or put on Facebook, but I love to talk about interesting science fiction and enjoy writing this blog.
My mind is challenged constantly, and this tech idiot is on a steep learning curve concerning formatting, downloading, social media, and general computer skills. But, I am learning and feeling a certain sense of accomplishment. I have made many new friends and acquaintances that I value within the book world over Linked-in, twitter, email and face to face.
I maintain complete control over the story, the cover, the pricing, the marketing, the deadlines and my career. If I need help, I now know where to go. Toni Boudreault is a professional graphic designer and knows that business. Not only is she competent, but a pleasure to work with and I love the covers she does. I have hired several professional editors at reasonable prices while the Beaverton Evening Writing Group offers excellent suggestions on a biweekly basis as to how to improve each submitted chapter.
So, I’d do it again. And here’s the reasons that prompted me to self-publish in the first place and the article that explained my decision.
Should I Self-Publish?
So you’re thinking about self-publishing? Right? You just read that list of those authors who have made more than a million sales at Amazon.
You know that most likely it won’t be you…but why put up obstacles? Who really knows? I would settle for just a nice living from my writing. I would love to do what I am passionate about and have fun every day…well almost every day.
Still, you run into them, you know, the writers who angst about not getting a response from their 200 query letters and can’t imagine not formatting and sending in a killer synopsis, and first three chapters all doubled spaced in Times Roman font. All following big publishing rules for submission. And then waiting forever.
Or, the person who mumbles, “Oh you’re self-published? I heard that authors that self-publish write terrible books.” …as if they had statistics and accurate knowledge that would validate such a conclusion. As if there has never been any poorly written books put out by legacy publishers.
Millions of readers say otherwise. Millions of readers are reading ebooks and ordering paperbacks. I doubt they check who is publishing the book they read. Does a publisher’s name influence your choice? Is that how books are bought? I don’t think so.
You’ve heard the naysayers who cling to the old ways like a drowning man onto a plank of wood in a tossing storm.
So why should you self publish?
1. Times are tight and publishers are even tighter. It’s getting hard to get in with any fiction unless you’re Amanda Hockings with a million books sold already and a fan base, or Steve Jobs, and he’s dead. Reality check time. Big publishing houses have missed the boat sometimes on figuring out blockbuster hits. Scholastic picked up Harry Potter, for crying out loud, after twelve publishing houses turned it down.
2. You’ve tried for ten years to publish and you know you have a book that people will like. Get it out there. Let the readers decide rather than a few gatekeepers who often choose at a given moment, and then never reconsider their decision. No second chances in that game. And the rejection may be not because it wasn’t good, but just because they accepted a similar one last week and that slot is now filled.
3. People ask me if I’m making money. I answer, “More than gathering dust on the shelf. That made me $0.” What have you got to lose? Just be wary of the scams. Yes, another blog for another day, but so far all revenues have covered any expenses. So it can be done, but it does take work.
4. Maybe you are retired, currently unemployed, or have time on your hands. Or have room for a part-time side job. I worked full time for years and wrote on the side. Then, they closed down the art gallery where I worked and the economy turned terrible. Finding a new job where I wanted to work wasn’t easy. Okay, I was picky. Now, instead of depression and feeling useless, I’m learning exciting new skills and getting paid for the experience. My life has purpose and I’m having fun. There is a psychological side to it—a sense of purpose…a sense of accomplishment.
5. You are your own boss and set your own schedule. You decide on the cover, what your write, how you price it and no one else tells you what to do. I don’t have big gas bills and I have a short commute. No stop lights. Plenty of coffee in the morning.
6. You have exciting conversations at parties about your book and you give speeches and show what you have written. Long lost college roommates e-mail you and tell you how much they liked your work. You amaze your mother who is astounded that her own child has written a novel, or two, or more.
7. You love to write and your dream is to see you book in hand. Now. Facts: It takes a long time to get published. It took eighteen months to get Baen books to ask for my entire manuscript after countless other queries to other publishers, and then a year after that they said, “No thanks.” I wasted two years because they said, “No simultaneous submissions.” They make up all these rules and like sheep, wannabe authors follow them afraid to rock the boat or ruin their chances.
Even if you were accepted right this second, acceptance in hand today, it takes a year or more to hit the shelf. Most likely two. Will those shelves be there in two years?
7. What is everyone getting for Christmas? Most likely a Kindle Fire, an Ipad2, a Nook, or an iPhone. Why am I a self- published, Indie author? It just makes sense for me in my place and at this time. Why not? Why wait any longer?
8. And if you are successful, didn’t a big publishing house offer Amanda Hockings an amazing contract? You can put both oars in the water if you want. You can do both and no one will arrest you. Ask Dean Wesley Smith about that. It isn’t an “either, or” situation.
9. If you’re smart about it, you have nothing to lose. Hey! Don’t these babies look great and fun to read? (check out my right panel) Why don’t you try one? An ebook is $2.99-$3.99. Less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
10. Think about it.
Find my books at http://Amazon.com/author/sheronmccartha. Also at Smashwords multiplatform formats, Kindle, in paperback at Amazon.
Caught In Time or Cosmic Entanglement are good starts, but all have stand alone stories in the Alysian Universe.
Check out http://www.AlysianUniverse.com for further information on my books and the world of Alysia, including map, character listings and dictionary.
Some small publishers are springing up to help the new author and are worth looking into if you need a helping hand, but be careful of the many scams out there. Editors and Predators is a website that highlights those to watch out for.
If you decide to self-publish, I welcome you to a whole new experience.