My Experience With Self-Publishing
Back in 2010, I decided to send forth my manuscript Crystal Unicorns into the traditional publishing world. Certain I was that it would be picked up by one of the almost a hundred queries I sent out. I received a few comments about my antagonist being a minor and in rather unsuitable situations for his age. Okay, I got it. It wasn’t PC. The kid is a psychopath. But my biggest mistake, by far, was simply not having my manuscript professionally edited. So I decided to self-publish.
One of the greatest complaints self-publishing deals with is that anyone can publish regardless of quality, experience, or even talent. It is also one of the most amazing things about self-publishing. It is an equal opportunity option.
Now I doubt there are many of us who would not prefer to traditionally publish. And recently it has been suggested that the most profitable author uses a hybrid approach: some self-published and some traditional.
THE UP SIDE
With self-publishing, you can hold your book in your hands and, let me tell you, there is nothing like that feeling. Up until the ebook, self-pubbing was for a brave few and through smaller presses. Traditional publishers held all the power and they were incredibly difficult to impress. Now an author can bypass them entirely.
Self-publishing is relatively easy. I went through Amazon: first with the Kindle version and then later through Createspace (also Amazon) for the paperback. It took time and a reasonable amount of patience, a few days of pounding my head against the keyboard, but I got it done. I also found ways to increase the royalties I received from each sale.
It takes time to traditionally publish. Queries, manuscripts, agents, publishers, editors, it all takes time. With self-publishing you side-step all but the editor. The only hits I have taken with my book have been about the editing. Pay the money; get it checked even if it just a line edit for punctuation and spelling.
THE DOWN SIDE
When you self-pub, you are completely and totally responsible for all marketing and that can be a full-time job. Marketing takes organization and commitment. Social media, signings, book selling events, blogs, every facet falls on you. I will admit that I was not as diligent in marketing as I could have been. Partially because I didn’t know about many of them (You might want to look back at my last column on Book Publicists) and partially because I got burnt out and discouraged from the poor sales. The book continues to have great reviews but it has stalled.
That is another down side. You are not guaranteed success no matter how hard you try. Of course, there are no guarantees in any form of publishing.
I did have some difficulties. I never did figure out Smashwords and their darned Meatgrinder (their version of Kindle/Createspace). Each possible avenue such as Ingram, Barnes and Noble, etc. have their own requirements, rules and regs, and formats. So get prepared to do the work or pay someone in the know to do it for you. If I do self-publish my next book, I will pay one of the many new agencies that provide that service.
Read the terms and conditions for each avenue. Amazon requires they be the lowest price on your book. I’m sure the others have a few proprietary rules as well.
I wish you the best of luck no matter which route you choose to take. As I said before, the new wave is to hybrid publish. Traditionally publishing for the larger works or particular genre. Self-publishing for smaller works or forays into different types of writing.
My adventure into self-publishing gave me the motivation to write my next book, SHARK BAIT. I held my first book in my hands due to self-publishing and I can’t imagine not doing the same again should traditional publishing fail me.
Good luck to you all. Just remember, don’t let your fear keep you from success. If your weren’t brave, you wouldn’t have chosen to be a writer.