“Why did you decide to self publish In Sleep You Know?”
I get asked about my choice to self publish all the time! Usually, it’s people who preface the question with a variation of “But your book is so good,” as if only shitty books get self published.
There are some interesting notions about self publishing. Some of the biggest ones I’ve noticed? The idea that all self published books:
- are poorly written
- are poorly edited, if at all
- have cheesy covers
- cost more to publish
- are lower quality
- are drowning out Trad and Indie published [implied, “good”] novels
The prevailing thought here is, that without the gatekeepers of agents, editors, and publishers, the market just fills up with bad books. Well, I am here to tell you that while these things can all be true, there are MANY great books out there that prove the stereotypes wrong. And here’s a truth that a lot of people don’t want to talk about: not every book that is published through those other routes is a good book! *gasp*
Seriously though – each route to publishing has its pluses and minuses, and plenty of great and awful examples of what’s out there via those methods. Yes, the lack of gatekeeping in self publishing means that if you’ve got the money and wherewithal, you can put a real stinker out there. But guess what? It’s probably not going to sell, especially once a few reviews get out there and talk about poor editing, lack of clarity, or multiple typos. The market will take care of itself in that regard.
By now, I think it’s clear that I think the claims of “flooding the market with poor quality writing and taking attention away from quality product” is overblown hokum.
I want to stress that it is extremely important to not go at self publishing alone. What do I mean when I say that? Simply put, get some professional help on your side. Hire the editors you need, pay for proofreading, find a competent cover artist and don’t go cheap. This is how you avoid adding your novel to that “flood” of poorly done books.
About now, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, I get it. You are pro-self-publishing, blah blah. So tell me why you went that route already!”
Sure, you’re not wrong, or at least you’ve got part of it right. I am for whatever road to publishing makes the most sense to you. But let me explain why I decided to do it myself – or more accurately, me with a team to help me.
First and foremost: time.
What does that mean? In my case, I had a wake up call two years ago, when I almost died from an unexpected illness that turned out to be the calling card of Crohn’s Disease. I’d been sitting on these stories for my whole life, outside of some fumbling attempts to serialize them in the late 90s. I knew I had the skills to publish myself, as I’d already done some homegrown small press publications. And now, I felt like time might be in short supply, so I had the motivation to Get It Done.
I didn’t want to go through the endless struggle of trying to find an agent, trying to get through slush piles as a complete unknown, trying to somehow catch the right eye at the right time. I’ve always been the type to look around and say “fuck it, I’m doing this myself,” with a pretty good success rate. I’ve also worked in publishing and owned small businesses, so I had a decent background in skills I’d need to put things together and then market them.
Obviously, not everyone has these things in their back pocket. That’s something to consider when you think about who you’ll need on your team if you go the self publishing route.
Other things in my favor
I had the money to invest at the time. Self publishing isn’t cheap if you do it right, although you can do things to make it more affordable. * I had the time to pour into getting it done pretty quickly, as I’m still chronically ill and fairly housebound. And I already have a pretty big community behind me, as I’ve been gathering people online for at least twenty years. That definitely helps!
That doesn’t mean that you can’t do it without that setup already in place. But in the interest of being transparent, I wanted to mention all of these things. They offset my feeling of being afraid to wait for things to happen organically, aka trying to get picked up by a traditional publisher or even an indie publisher.
Here’s another thing to think about: as a self published author, you are responsible for everything. That is both extremely freeing and also a burden.
You can market yourself however you want! Yay!
You have to come up with all the marketing schemes, boo.
You can hire someone to do marketing for you, huzzah!
You have to pay that person, aw dang.
You have to pay for everything yourself.
But all the money you make, less fees taken by printer/distributor, is yours.
* I have a LOT more to say about choosing Self Publishing as an option, and it isn’t all going to fit in this blog post! Lucky for you, if you are interested in this line of thought, I cover this topic and more over at my Ko-fi. If you choose the membership tier “A Writer’s Life and Craft” then you will get all my posts on these subjects, plus a lot more. You’ll also have the option to ask me questions directly and have detailed conversations!