Self publishing my first book was a very interesting process. The word interesting is a good word to use as it is exciting, fun, difficult, a lot more work than I ever dreamed of, stressful at times, and took much longer than I thought. Therefore, interesting is the best word to use I think, to describe my experience.
As I write this, my book is not out, it will be out in August 2019. I have discovered several things on my journey to getting my book published and I will share them with you in case you are going through the same process, are thinking of doing it, or just enjoy reading about this as something new to ponder.
Why Did I Choose to Self Publish?
I suppose this is the logical place to start with my blog posts as I get asked this a lot. There are several reasons why I chose to self publish. As I became more confident in my story that I was writing in my spare time, I began to have this idea that maybe I should publish it. I have always enjoyed writing, why not try to share it and see if others would like the story? I am a bit practical by nature and I know a girl has to have a roof over her head and needs to eat; it was a big decision to see if I could support myself with my writing. So, onto the reasons and my thoughts for my decision.
Time and Rejection
I did a lot of research, I read a lot of information online from various blogs, websites of big publishers and self publishers on how to publish and the process involved. As I read, I became alarmed at the statistics and numbers of how many books are rejected, and how some awesome authors have had their books rejected numerous times. Resubmitting their book for years, and I did not want to spend that amount of time. Publishing is a business, and it does make sense for them to not want to gamble too much on an unknown person with no background in professional writing (me, as I have never entered any writing contests, or shared my work with any other professional writers, agents or even friends and family).
Writing has always been a very private thing for me, no one knew I did it. Another part of my brain was speaking loudly to me as well, telling me that nobody puts me in a corner! I do not do well with being told no, and I know I would not respond well to that. There are a lot of reasons why people are told no in publishing, it may not be that your story isn’t good, but instead is not a popular genre or subject, they have other authors in that genre that are doing quite well for them, you are an unknown, your manuscript is the eleven thousandth (because they do get a lot) and no one even read it, etc. There are many reasons a book is rejected; it is an industy and there is liability for them. I could have gotten an agent, but I did not want to do that either as I did not know the first thing about how to choose a good agent, and it is still not guaranteed they could get a book deal for me.
I found self publishing can go two ways; you can choose to really self publish where you do everything yourself and submit it as an e-book, or you can choose to still have a publishing firm that does self-publishing. Self publishing firms should have professionals that have worked in the publishing industry and can guide you. I went the second route, as I am totally new to publishing and writing a book for others to read, so I wanted guidance and advice.
I looked at the financial costs and value of each type of publishing. All the research indicates the average author makes approximately $10,000 per year. This is alarming for me, as a single person I cannot live off of that. I looked at the costs involved and the financial benefits for me in the end, and made my decision to self publish. Basically, self publishing with a self publisher means that I have a publisher I pay to edit, create my cover, deal with distributors, create the files for e-book and paper distribution, create a marketing strategy and can pay them for any other services that I choose to hire them for. That means they do not take any royalties from me on my book sales. I have paid for everything up front.
Traditional publishing means that you do not pay upfront for any of this, in fact they may give you money up front understanding you have to live and pay bills while you write. They instead take part of your royalties from every book that sells, usually for life (not for a certain number of books sold, but for every book sold as long as it is for sale somewhere in the world). This ranges according to the publisher. I don’t have any clue on how much this really costs in absolute numbers, but the percentage is high and the research indicated that it would be significant. So, this played into my decision to self publish. As a note here, be aware that some self publishing firms do this too, so read your contract very carefully before you make your decision. The biggest reason to go the traditional route is that they have a well oiled marketing program and they can sell your book for you.
I am taking all the financial risks, I looked at my personal finances and made some hard decisions, and the decision to invest in myself in order to get my book published. I hope it works out, but in life nothing ventured, nothing gained right??
This is the part I had to wrap my head around, I am not very good with numbers and tend to shirk away from financial stuff somewhat, as my good friend Craig knows and whom I am sure is chuckling to himself as he reads this understatement. I had to look at my book and my being an author as a business, no matter how much the creative part of me was shrieking, “but I am writing for the love of writing”. I put a significant amount of time into this, money into it, and it is necessary to get this back and make a comfortable living from it in order for me to write full time, which is what I want to do in life.
Therefore, I had to really look at the financial aspect of writing to make the decision if I should self publish or try to go the traditional publishing route. If I sell millions of books every year, traditional publishing I am sure would make up for any significant percentage they take, but what if I only sell five hundred or a thousand books? Going the route of self-publishing means it may take a lot longer to get the book visible and to sell any books, so this is a consideration and it means you may experience some failures in marketing ventures. It also takes a lot of time for marketing, which you may or may not have, or it may be sporadic if you self publish.
Owning Your Work
I love music and art, and I was seeing more and more musicians and artists putting their work on line and using various non traditional avenues to get their work out to the public. They are indie musicians and artists, and they are growing. Same with painters for example, there are other avenues now for them, they no longer need to rely on galleries to showcase them. They can get to their audience more now through on line distributors and different avenues. A well known Canadian musician has recently lobbied the Canadian government to protect the musician’s rights more when it comes to publishing and owning their work, so I took a close look at this aspect of publishing.
I thought to myself, owning your own work is important, and my research on the subject confirmed it. I can do whatever I want with my book. A third party (a Company, publisher, agent, etc.) cannot do whatever they want with my book. I do not have to give up my rights to my book with self publishing and that appealed to me greatly. Therfore, if any self publisher talks about owning your work in any form, contract, verbal discussion, email, etc. please think twice about working with them if this is as important to you as it is to me.
As I researched I got the impression, and some people in the publishing world said it outright, that the traditional industry of publishing which includes everyone from traditional publishing houses, associations that have financial and accreditation awards for authors, owners of bookstores, critics, etc. do not always take the self published author seriously or as seriously. There is a certain gravitas, or higher status perhaps given to authors that have gone the traditional route and I had to decide if this was important to me. I guess this comes from the fact that in self publishing you pay for the service. If you pay for publishing, would they really tell you it was crap, that it was not worth telling? I suppose it is the view that traditional publishers keep bad stories from the public, but they have rejected some awesome authors numerous times and I think the world needed their books (the Harry Potter Collection for example).
This was a worry for me, would my editor tell me the story was crap? I did ask her, and she told me she thought it was very good, the characters stayed with her and she is looking forward to the second book whenever I am done writing it. I do think she told me the truth, not just what I wanted to hear, because she sure did work hard editing it, giving me her opinions of what I should remove, how the story progressed and where I needed to beef it up for very good reasons. I printed and read my book so many times looking for any mistake because of this worry about it not being perfect, finally I woke up and realized nothing is perfect, and I hope if there are mistakes that people are more forgiving than not.
My friend Charlene, who loves fantasy also likes the book, and since she was pretty shocked that I wrote it (knowing me for over 20 years, eeek!) I think she did tell me the truth. But that is the point isn’t it? There are billions of people in the world, with billions of opinions and different likes and dislikes, surely some of them would enjoy my story if I have the confidence to publish it and send it out to them.
These were the major reasons and thoughts why I went the self publishing route for my book, if you are looking to do this too, it really is a decision that has to be made by you after you have researched the pros and cons extensively. There are pros to traditional publishing and cons to self publishing, this article is just the main reasons for my choice.
Have a great week everyone, and please feel free to comment.