I've been talking-up self-publishing quite a bit. It's kind of expected...since I self-published a book and I'm proud of it and I'm confident I can do it again. Two more times, actually. I'll be self-publishing two more fairy-tale themed novellas in the future.
Does my confidence and positivity mean you should self-publish a book?
That's an awfully personal question. I know many of our readers are not considering such a route, but some are, and it frightens me to think some of you are watching me like I'm a fish in a fishbowl because I'm doing this series. Some of you are trying to make the decision right now whether or not you should self-publish a book. Tara Maya, for instance, just made the huge decision to self-publish a short story anthology. I think she mentioned that I had some sort of influence on her...among others who also had an influence on me.
I think one of the hardest things I've ever had to write was my Acknowledgements page. It was easy enough to write when I actually sat down to write it, but thinking about who I was going to personally name...that was difficult. Some names were obvious. Others became shrouded under the "friends and beta readers" title. The truth is, every writer's blog I've ever read, every writer who has given me advice, supported me, urged me to follow my dreams. I owe them all my thanks. When I wrote the page, I wasn't thinking specifically about self-publishing, but of writing in general. That's when specific names popped up first.
Here is where I'd like to talk about the few people who helped steer me (directly and indirectly) into the direction of self-publishing Cinders.
Katie probably doesn't know it, but I've watched her for awhile. Katie started her own publishing company name, Rising Sign Books LLC, and published her first book, Immortalis Carpe Noctem in March of this past year. As soon as I discovered Katie had self-published her book, I bought a copy. I had read some of her writing before and enjoyed it. I was really interested to see what her self-published book looked like. I had some exposure to self-published material before through Lulu (we did Genre Wars last year through Lulu), but Katie did things a bit differently. She hired a cover artist, layout designer, and editors. She then found a commercial printer for print runs of the book.
I was pleasantly surprised when I received Katie's book. She even had a bookmark with it. I loved the bookmark because I thought it was well-done and a great promotional item we could maybe consider for The Literary Lab anthologies one day.
Katie's book, although a vampire story (which I've tended to avoid lately...) was quite fun! My husband even snatched it away from me and read it, and the cover and formatting and printing were all high quality. I started to think...hmmm...self-publishing...
F.P. has been a reader over here for quite awhile. I became a fan of F.P.'s as soon as I started reading her comments on some of our posts. Her insights and strong opinions about specific issues in publishing and life in general got me thinking deeply about more things. She got me thinking differently about almost everything publishing-related. I don't always agree with F.P., but I have definitely changed my mind about some things because of her, and self-publishing is one of those things.
I eventually bought one of F.P.'s self-published novels, Remember & Forget, and read it with great interest. My husband read that one, too, and enjoyed it. We talked for days about it, actually, about the issues it brought up and how they related to us personally. I read Katie's book and F.P.'s book at about the same time, and I was delighted to see that F.P.'s Lulu-quality book wasn't far behind the quality of Katie's commercial print-run book (in printing quality). I started to think again...hmmmm...self-publishing.
Probably one of the most influential things of all, however, was F.P.'s intense drive to put an emphasis on the quality of her work inside the book. This shows in her beautiful writing. F.P. has been self-publishing for 11 years (I hope I got that right, F.P.), and I was impressed with how confident she is with her work and how much she supported and helped me when I made the decision to self-publish. For some reason, before I met F.P., I had always thought that self-published writers went around with their heads hung in shame. So not true.
This might seem a given since I blog over here with Davin and I included his name in my Acknowledgements page, but I had to mention here that when Davin self-published a middle-grade novel he wrote just for his nephew, a light turned on in my head. I realized self-publishing can be the perfect solution for specific projects. I first started Cinders as a novella to include in a combined novella-project Davin and Scott and I have been discussing for awhile, but it soon became evident to me that Cinders was something I wanted to put out there on its own. As I watched Davin write and publish his novel for his nephew, I understood the significance of knowing the aim of your novel.
Zoe influenced me a little after I had already made the decision to self-publish, but what she did was give me an extra boost of confidence in my decision. Zoe is adamantly opposed to traditionally publishing her work and is constantly out in the blogosphere talking about her experiences with self-publishing. She has even made a series of YouTube videos about self-publishing you might want to watch. You can find them here on Zoe's Channel.
Zoe has been quite successful by way of sales, from what I understand, but in the end that doesn't matter to me as much as whether or not the writer is happy with what they've accomplished writing-wise, and Zoe is obviously happy and excited about her work as a whole. Her confidence was a real life-saver and good example at the very beginning of my Cinders release.
Self-Publishing Might Just Stink For You...or it Might Be Totally Awesome...
Yes, self-publishing might just stink for you. It might be a very bad decision for you. After speaking about influences, I hope that if I am an influence for you, I hope you also understand that I can't tell you if self-publishing would be right for you or not. I don't know. I honestly didn't know if it was a very good decision for me until I tried it. Even now, some of the cons for me are:
(1) The constant, ridiculous, and unnecessary but unavoidable worrying I do about what people think of me for self-publishing a book.
(2) The fact that if I do try and traditionally publish, the traditional publisher may look at my self-publishing numbers and factor that into their decision in a negative way.
(3) Putting more money into the project than I'm making in sales from the project. So far I haven't made back what I put into the project, but I do have confidence I'll make it back in the long run.
(4) The fear of regretting all of this later. Yeah, that's a real fear, but not one I can see happening. I'm proud of the work I've put out there, and just like anything else I have published, once it's out there it is permanent and I learn to accept it for what it is and where I was at that time as a writer.
Making the decision to self-publish is not something you should take lightly, in my opinion. I'm also of the thought that if you're going to do something, you should do it right. For me, that meant putting money and time and a lot of work into my project to get the final product I did. For you, that might mean something entirely different. In the end, I can't say if it would be awesome or stink for you, but I can at least answer these questions asked by my dear friend, Alicia:
So I am genuinely curious about something. After doing the math and seeing you can make a profit in writing (however small or large), would you still go through it all again if you could only break even or have it cost more than you sold (a...ka take a loss)?Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes.
I remember you saying early on your only real goal was to get people reading what you wrote. Now that you are officially published and money is involved, is that still true? Would you be satisfied if you never made another penny from Cinders, or sold another copy, but people kept reading it? What about if no one read it again, would it still be a success?
There is, of course, no wrong answer. I just wonder if things have changed at all, since I haven't experienced publication as you are now.
Why Self-Publishing Is Better Than You Think Series
Do You Want to Jump the Fence? - August 26th
The Vase - September 1st
What Going Indie Will Cost You - September 8th
Whither The Author-Artiste? - September 9th
Influences & Self-Publishing Might Just Stink For You - September 16th
The Absolute Nightmare (or not!) of Formatting a Print Book - September 22n
Cheaper Than Kinko's - September 23rd
Don't Listen to Me - September 30th