I’ve been thinking I would actually publish this book for about three years. Not the wistful fantasies of what if, but the blood curdling idea that it might actually happen. As with anything I involve myself in, the first thing I do is research. It was a pleasant surprise to find multiple options. It was less pleasant to find the “right” path was hotly contested.
Well, I’ve made a decision.
I will be self publishing.
At least for now.
I am not writing this as a condemnation for traditional publishing or to uphold the standards of indie publishing. This is the first post in documenting the choices and challenges going down this path. I hope it is educational, and not in a “I won’t do that!” kind of way.
There are a bunch of blogs that cover this, I recommend you read them first. My perspective is someone entering, and as they continue, I hope it has some value. But I’ve tried my best to listen to those who’ve been in the trenches from the start, whether it be the self publishing or traditional publishing fronts. That’s been difficult because the entire industry has turned upside down. Self publishing is accepted for the first time, fueled by one of the most innovative and powerful corporations in the world. Traditional publishers are circling the wagons, trying to defend their territory. We can argue all damn day about whether or not they need too (personally, I think it’s an over-reaction) but I think there
Either way, the successes of days past are built on models that were built on models that were built on models that no longer exist. Traditional publishing has gone through several transformations and self-publishing has swung back and forth like a pendulum whose weight changes with the mood, time, and/or value of the dollar.
So, how could I have made this decision? Well, partly because of the uncertainty with traditional publishing. I sent a query to an agent, the one I’d picked out from the very beginning as being the most knowledgeable, successful, and had the most clients that matched my own work.
It took a week to get the rejection. The agent in question was very respectful, very nice, and in no way like all the nightmares writers love to hear about. It wasn’t even a form letter as far as I could tell.
But here’s the thing. I was more worried the agent would be interested, so much so that the rejection came as a bit of a relief. Some of that is a coping mechanism, it was certainly a disappointment to be rejected, but a big part of it was knowing I wouldn’t have to deal with big publishing.
It is the general message of new (emphasis on new) authors that publishers are offering contracts requiring all rights (in all mediums), for a godawful amount of time, with a small advance, and very little support. Not to mention the small royalties, inaccurate statements, and length of time it takes to actually get the book to launch.
They are gambling on authors, exerting as little effort as possible, and hoping it will pay off. This is a continued relationship where you are only as successful as your last book.
Let me add a disclaimer. The publishers, they have the big mojo when it comes to distributing and selling books. There is a reason they own the industry. You get published by one of those corporations and you have more legitimacy than any self published author begins with. It’s a head start, and a damn good one. Odds are (and the odds are everything) that you will have editing (that you didn’t pay for) cover design (that’s better, and you didn’t pay for) and whatever their “shitty marketing” is, is still going to be better than yours.
Those are the odds.
If you are a natural born writer and entrepreneur, you might be able to do better than them. If your best friend is a cover designer, you have a great advantage. If you are used to charging
And you are always, always, always against the odds of luck or fate or your own personal deity. Whichever your subscribe to. There are authors who did everything right, had the planet align, everything backing them, second, third, and fourth chances, and still failed.
Here’s the thing, the traditional publishers, they’re capitol investors. The publishers provide the resources and expertise to launch the endeavor, the authors provide the skill, talent, and content that make up the brand. Except business are way easier to invest in than books. You can look at a business plan, finances, assets, all that stuff, and it’s still difficult. A book is subjective.
There isn’t anything wrong with that. They’re providing a legitimate service. because it doesn’t cost you one red penny. It’s a perfectly legitimate service that offers huge rewards. They mold the talent, skill, and content into a final product that will sell, especially in genre fiction where authors are synonymous with a character, a universe, or style.
If they are doing anything shady, well, it just means they’re a corporation. Being an author for them is just like being an employee for another company. Sometimes you’re an executive making six or seven figures, sometimes you’re making minimum wage. The disparity is the same, it just feels more personal because it’s based on your creative output. That doesn’t make it fair, but life ain’t fair. I think my time is worth more than I make an hour. I’m not going to quite my job because it’s not “fair”.
All this to say, I’ve worked for a major corporation. It’s…eh. Pays the bills. It lets me do what I like to do, which is write. And hell if I want to work for a corporation to enable me to work for another corporation and get the same experience. Only this time, they control my story, my world, my characters.
I am making my last run through with editing now. I have a cover, which I’m pretty happy with, but no title as of yet. I have a few front runners, but am trying to find one that I really like and I think can also be a part of an overall series and brand.
I will keep updates coming as they happen.