The World of Self-Publishing

I am by no means an expert in self-publishing. I have one book out on Amazon, published through CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle, and my goal is to have Dark Winds: Book Two of the Shadow’s Fire Trilogy and Breaking the Flame: Book Three of the Shadow’s Fire Trilogy out by next spring, but who knows. My experience with self-publishing, I suppose, has been somewhat of a double-edged sword, a rollercoaster, like riding a wave, and any other metaphor for an up and down experience you could think of. Would I suggest self-publishing to other people? Sure, for the right person. I don’t think it is for everyone. If you had asked me that question a year ago, after A Chance Beginning had been out for a little while and my sales looked decent, I would have said, “It’s for everyone. Absolutely. Down with the traditional publisher.” I find that this process is much like selling life insurance. When I first started selling life insurance, my world was all about Universal Life Insurance. That was the only life insurance that was good life insurance. If you didn’t buy UL, you were stupid. Then, after a while and some much needed world experience, I realized that different types of insurance work for different people in different places in their lives. I think looking at the writing and publishing industry, my attitude is much the same. I recently had an opportunity to sit down with a man named Grael Norton from Wheatmark, a publishing company locally based in Tucson that helps authors do a number of different things, including preparing their manuscripts for self-publishing, helping people publish through Wheatmark, and helping writers prepare their manuscripts for trade publishers. Through my experiences, I had already started to realize how the writing and publishing industry worked, but sitting down with Grael really helped…well, open my eyes for a lack of better terms.

What I like about self-publishing: You’re in the driver seat. Your baby stays your baby. You get to write what you want to write. Your cover looks the way you want it to look. For the most part, you establish the price of your book. You help design the interior. Its all you. For the control freak like me, the micromanager, this is perfect. Self-publishing has been a great experience. I was, at one point, actually contracted with a publishing company. I will omit their name in honor of professionalism, but I started to realize that I didn’t have full control over my own work. In fact, in some cases, I had very little control. In fact, in some cases, I had no control. This was my imagination. This was my hard work, my sweat equity so to speak, and I can’t say what I want to say, can’t have this character and can’t use this language? Wait…what? I need to cut the first three chapters out? This character isn’t driving the plot. Get rid of him? It’s kind of crazy, when you think about it. All this hard work and, boom, your story is no longer your story. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for the experience. But I am also grateful for the opportunity to self-publish.

Perhaps part of my positive experience with self publishing was the fact that I had received some great editing, and continued to receive great editing after I had left the publishing company I was contracted with. I have great friends that were willing to read my book before I published it. And I have thick skin. I can take criticism very well and understand that a different set of eyes will see different things. I also have friends that are fantastic artists and photographers and were willing to create internal design for me and cover design. These things all made self publishing a lot of fun and very easy. And, maybe one of the greatest experiences with self-publishing is that when I gave CreateSpace the okay, I got to physically see my book two weeks later rather than 18 months later.

What I don’t like: So, some of the things that I liked about self-publishing are also some of the things I don’t like. I now realize that my cover needs some revamping, as does my interior design. Not that they are terrible, but in terms of what is eye-catching, what sells in the fantasy/science fiction industry, I had no one to direct me. If I did, as I have found out on my own in speaking with people such as Grael Norton, I would have learned that there are certain aspects of the cover and interior that I missed, which should be there. I think that is probably one advantage in not self-publishing, there is someone there the whole time advising you, or just doing it for you. Editing too. I said I had great editing even though I decided to self-publish. However, I have already revised my already published book twice and am in the process of doing it a third time. I mean, I didn’t have someone sitting down and only working on my manuscript. They were awesome, but they had to edit my book when they had time. And they did it for next to free. The result—me revising an already published book three times.

Lastly, what I really don’t like about self-publishing is the marketing and publicity. I have become self employed, which means all the marketing and publicity is on me, including the cost. I’m not a publicist. I don’t have a specialty in marketing. This has been very difficult for me. I’ve done Facebook and twitter, and that has been mildly successful. I’ve done local book fairs and book signings. I sell a few books there. But all in all, it’s been pretty hard getting my book in front of eyes, in front of readers.  Do I think my book is good enough to sell itself through word of mouth? Yes, I do. But how do I get those initial people to read my book? And how do I continually hound friends and family about telling their other friends and family about my book? I’m sure they would understand, but part of me just feels like a pest.

I think self-publishing and companies like Amazon and CreateSpace and Kindle have revolutionized the industry and created a way for more writers to be heard, get their work out there, see their ideas on a page, and live a dream. But it is certainly a different, if not difficult, road. There are some great written works that may have never seen the light of day if it weren’t for self-publishing, and then there are some works that should have never seen the light of day. I am personally glad for my journey, glad for self-publishing, and very hopeful and expectant for the future and what it holds for my writing career. Writing and my journey has put me in front of some amazing people, people that I truly believe will help me achieve my goal of being a best selling author. If you have had a chance, make sure you check out my first novel, A Chance Beginning. You can buy it through Amazon.com for only $13.95 in paperback or for $2.99 on kindle.