Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Self-Publishing: What's your opinion?

A few years ago I wrote the first version of "The Soulkeepers".  It was barely more than on outline, completely underdeveloped and at that time titled "A Different Paris".  I wrote it for fun and never intended for it to see the light of day.

A year later, I pulled that manuscript out and completely rewrote it.  This time I thought it had potential.  So, I had two strangers from a local romance writers group read it.  They connected with the story emotionally but had some advice on the writing and characterization.  I was a busy mom and a part time student, so I put the manuscript aside again.

Months later, I had a break from school and made the corrections to the manuscript.  A handful of readers, some friends and family read it and loved it.  This time, they said it was ready for "The Show".  So, I queried five agents.  I had no clue what I was doing and my query was horrible.  Not surprisingly, I received five rejections.

Then I joined SCBWI.  I went to classes on craft.  I read books on plot and character.  I finished school and rewrote the novel a third time.  This time I had it beta read by writers, professional authors and editors who I'd come to know through social networking.  After overwhelmingly positive feedback, I queried fifteen more agents.  My query was much better this time.  Three requested the manuscript.  All ultimately rejected me but were complimentary of the book.  I was close, very close.

Based on the feedback I received during this process, I'm halfway through a fourth and final revision.  I won't call this one a rewrite, just a nip and tuck.  This book is awesome.  It is amazing. And very soon it will be as perfect as I can make it.

At this point, I could go back to querying.  It's the traditional thing to do after all. But instead, I'm considering self-publishing.  Why?  Mainly because querying takes time and energy away from writing.  I have a second book (a romance) that is waiting to be edited and the idea for a third book I've had on the back burner.  Each time I query someone, I research their agent page, tailor my query for them specifically, and fret endlessly over every detail before I send it.  It takes hours, days, weeks, and there is no benefit to the time spent unless someone asks for the manuscript.  Even if I was able to get an agent in a reasonable amount of time, they would have to sell the manuscript and then I would have to wait for the publisher to publish it.  That's a whole lot of waiting.

I have simple goals.  I don't need to be the next Dan Brown, I just want to sell a few copies and share my story with the world.  So what do you think?  In your opinion, if this was your novel, what would you do?


  1. I vote self-print/publish, or find a good Indie press to carry you.

  2. I also vote self-publish. I feel if you dedicate the time and energy it takes for you to query, and use it to market your work, you may be able to make your goal. The vibes in the Publishing industry now seems ripe for good books that are self published. I feel it's like getting a website going in the mid nineties. You are getting in early and with sweat and hard work, you may be able to create a market for yourself.
    However, I'm no authority.

  3. Thanks Carrie and Kayanna! That's the way I'm leaning as well.

  4. I think self-publishing is the way to go too. You have other books waiting, and yes, querying takes time!

    One week after I signed a contract with a self-publishing house, my novel was accepted by Ink Water Press. It was a bittersweet moment, but there is so much I've learned from self-publishing. Because it was my first novel, I'm kind of glad that I put the entire publishing process in my own hands, from choosing the title, the cover design, the inside details, and now, marketing it, which is another benefit. It has forced me to step outside my desk-world and actually talk with other readers, buyers, and writers. I think a lot of good comes from self-publishing, aside from the money. You will be happy to see your great book in print.

    Good luck!

  5. Thanks Erin! You make an important point I hadn't considered. Self publishing would be a fabulous learning experience.

  6. I think you should self-publish. I would. You've done the right thing, sending it out, refining it, improving it - why not take the bull by the horns and do it yourself? I don't know about you but I find myself worshipping at the altar of publishers who really are snooty about taking chances with new writers - having someone publish our book is like getting an A+, a Gold Star, the approval of the parent who always shot you down. But do we need that? No! You're a wonderful writer. The world deserves a peek at your book. So, Publish!

  7. I think self-publishing is the best thing to do. Put your energy into promotion. Organize a blog tour. Comment on reader's forums. Get your book out there and see what happens.

  8. Thanks Cathy and Lovelyn. I agree. And for how conservative publishers are, there are certainly many examples of how this strategy hasn't worked for them.

  9. I vote self-pub also and i wrote a post in response: http://pjkaiser.com/?p=221 :-)

  10. Self pub and make sure you're in the kindle marketplace from day one and price the ebook under $5 ($4.95 is nice... $2.99 may have magic properties for new authors looking for buzz)

    Get good cover art, but make sure it looks good as a postage stamp.

    Then write your next book. You'll probably need three to reach critical mass. Try to get them online with 18 months.

    That's my vote. It seems to be working for me, but your mileage may vary.

  11. ...soon, my personal development book will be on Amazon one full year. It's done fairly well, nothing great, however, have decided to construct a second edition or revised edition, whatever you want to call it. By my 'indie' pubbing, I'm able to do that; change the cover to a new color, change the pic to capture an important demographic that my storyline promotes (golf), and a new subtitle.

    Recently, I uploaded my new book, a biography. Actually, a second genre for me as have concentrated mainly on personal development. Biography is of a WWII veteran, a war hero. The book has 39 pictures, and presented a real task (time), in formatting for the ebook. So, I hired out the formatting unlike my first book which I formatted myself. Everything myself.

    Here's my advice for what it's worth. You may not be the best at doing your own cover so give this critical consideration. BTW, covers are most important with ebooks as well. You may not want to research and study how to format your ebook or print for that matter. Hire it out or look for someone who will barter with you, someone having a specialty, where you can serve as as editor for their work. Price your book low, real low is nice, like $.99. Remember, you're an unknown author. You can always change your pricing whenever you want. Your books description is critical as well.

    Lastly, my new biography has not been up on Amazon for a month now...but because (perhaps), I have 'multiple' books now (even though different genres), my first book is selling better as well. Who'da thunk it?

    Good Luck GP and remember...you're not getting any younger. And, p.s., the additional income stream is nice too. ebooks are the best.

    Regards, --gg

  12. Self publishing seems to be "the answer" lately. My dear friend, novelist Marcia Colette has decided to go that road for one of her novels. This will be her first time self publishing and I'll follow her journey to see how it goes.

    I think if you have the time to promote your own work a bit, self publishing will be just fine.

    Best of luck!

  13. ...you probably already know this guy. JA Konrath, he IS the guru of indie publishing.

    This link specifically talks about a success story of another indie, making 'big' money.

  14. Thanks Gary, Nathan and Magaly, that sounds like excellent advice. I appreciate the insight about the cover- especially to consider what would look good on a postage stamp. I hadn't thought of that.

  15. Goodness Gen, am I the only one who doubts the merit of self-publishing? Okay, you can consider the fact that I know very little about book publishing, but at least I know something about you and where I think your potential can take you. To self-publish now is fine and may be what you have to do with this manuscript just to get it out of your head... but by doing it this way do you honestly get the type of constructive criticism you need to advance... from the people who really could help you? Rejection in the art world hurts, but it's those who keep their nose to the grindstone who always end up not only getting rejected less, but also achieving the goals they had for themselves. I once had a master-quilter tell me, don't fool around with small potatoes, make your work so desirable that the big guys can't resist you! I'm afraid my vote would be to not fool around with self publishing because in the world that you were meant to exist in, self publishing is small potatoes. Your time, effort and energy are better utilized in keeping your nose to the grindstone for the time being. I want to see you create something that people simply cannot resist and I know you have it in you!

  16. Thanks Robin! I'll keep that in mind.

  17. About twenty-nine years ago, I had a collection of song lyrics/poems, and was starting to get them in the hands of musicians to spark a collaborative effort.

    I wanted to copyright them, and decided to self-publish a collection on a very limited run (1,000 copies).

    I found a partner who ponied up half of the cost-his goal was to gain some credibility as a manager, and he thought having a songwriter in his sphere of influence would help.

    We did not take the music world by storm, and most of the books went to friends and family or free to bands. But we did convince a few local stores to carry them, and I even once came across someone who had purchased the book prior to knowing me.

    It worked out well enough that I did another collection a few years later.

    Self-publishing will probably not earn you a fortune but it is a way to get your material out there and read.



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