There is a craze taking hold of the publishing industry; the self-publishing craze. If you aren’t aware of it, then you’re an even bigger hermit than I am (but if that describes you, you probably aren’t reading this…you’re probably sitting and writing and not perusing blogs!) It was only a year or two ago that, as a fiction writer, self-publishing was a dirty word.
Now it’s a buzz word.
The question is, is self-publishing for you?
I am not an expert. I have a novella published with a reputable e-book first publisher (Samhain Publishing) and another novella coming out with a different e-publisher (Carina Press). I have self-published one title (Siren’s Song) and am about to release a trilogy called Thief of Hearts, a fantastical retelling of Robin Hood, where Little John is a woman in disguise.
But, like I said, I am far from being an expert. However, I do want to share my philosophy and thoughts on self-publishing.
First of all, I can honestly say that self-publishing a novella with plans of publishing more has completely altered my way of thinking about writing and given me the motivation to press on in a difficult-to-break-into industry during a difficult economic climate. I have never written more and never had more ideas. This sort of enthusiasm is manna to a writer and is the sort of excitement that is extremely hard to maintain while waiting months and often years to hear back from editors and agents.
As a writer, I consider myself to be an artist. Yet, in what other medium do we expect people to create art and then hide it away until someone recognizes them? Painters, sculptors and photographers have webpages, put on art shows and sell their work while waiting for big galleries to pick them up. Musicians produce CDs and accept money for gigs–some play on street corners, some in clubs, some at weddings and functions–while waiting to make it to the ‘big time’. Why is it any different for writers?
In my opinion, it shouldn’t be.
Which brings me to my next point. Because I’ve embraced self-publishing as an option, does that mean I have given up on traditional publishing avenues?
Diversification is the key. The principal of diversification is not exclusive to writing. As any financial planner will tell you, an investor should have a diversified portfolio. If one area of their investment takes a nose dive, they’ve got other investments to keep their portfolio healthy. For years, coaches and personal trainers have preached the importance of cross-training in order to keep the body balanced and free from repetitive strain injuries. There are countless sayings that speak to this issue; don’t put all your eggs in one basket, variety is the spice of life…
Okay. You get the picture.
Therefore, it is my belief that a balanced approach to self-publishing is the way to go. I am going to continue submitting to agents and editors, both at larger houses and small presses. In the meantime, I’m going to build my name with some self-published titles. I have a plan and that is the important point. There are parts of my plan that I have control over, there are parts where I have no control. But I have a plan. If you decide to take this approach, don’t do it willy nilly. In fact, that’s the joy of self-publishing; as an author, you now have the opportunity to create a business plan and follow through on that plan without completely being at the mercy of the market, a publisher, an editor, an agent and so on.
Keep in mind, however, that what is equally important, of course, is quality. Don’t be fooled, self-publishing is hard work. Yes, you are in control, but you are also responsible for everything, that includes the quality of your work–is it good enough? Is it marketable? Is it professional? The quality of your cover. The quality of your formatting and promotions. It’s all up to you. If your book succeeds it is all due to your hard work. If it doesn’t succeed to the degree you’d hoped, well…