To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish, That is the Question.

It’s a brave new world out there in publishing and one of the hottest questions going around is whether writers should skip the traditional channels and self-publish and the question is not just limited to writers who have not been published before. Many traditionally published authors are taking advantage of new technologies in order to either release previously unpublished works or some of their back list titles.

The levels of success run the gamut, from some authors who are selling in the thousands to others who have had mixed results.

As a published author with some back list titles whose rights should revert shortly as well with some new materials I want to explore, there are a variety of options in order to self-publish. I can hire an editor and cover artist and upload the work myself. Or I can choose to pay a flat rate to someone to do that or there are even some agents who are getting into the gig and offering those services for a percentage of sales.

My initial response to the various ways: Maximize the income that’s to come to you by eliminating the middle man. It may be a hit up front for you to pay for editing and/or cover design, but why have someone get a cut of your pie if it’s not absolutely essential?

What if you haven’t been published before? Why would you want to self-publish rather than trying to sell via traditional means?

Today I have with me Dianne Venetta who I had the pleasure to meet as a result of the wonderful Brenda Novak Auction. I’ve asked Dianne here today to discuss her choice to self-publish and I’d love to hear from all of you as to what you think about this brave new world in publishing.

Hi Caridad and thanks for having me as your guest today, discussing the topic of self-publishing! As you and I discussed, this May I decided to brave this wonderful new world of digital books and launched my debut novel, Jennifer’s Garden. It’s a story about a female cardiologist and her quest for the perfect husband (does such a creature exist?) and the lessons she learned along the way to finding him. Easy as the breeze when there’s a sexy man involved, right?

But with no experience, no established audience, no Twitter friends or Facebook fans, one might ask why would I do such a thing?

For the simple reason that I could. Granted this doesn’t tell the whole story, but it does represent the single largest truth regarding self-publishing: without the introduction and subsequent explosion of e-readers, authors like me would never be able to self-publish. Sure I could have hired a company to format, design and print my books, but for a “nobody” like me that would have proved cost prohibitive. Besides, it’s never a good idea to spend boatloads of money without some idea where your customers will come from!

So I did it myself. (I am a do-it-yourselfer type!) I took advantage of the information available on the World Wide Web and went to work deciphering how to format my book correctly, what specs my cover needed to meet not to mention a host of other details. Next I had to expand my network of social contacts and begin the task of marketing and promotion, all while trying to actually sell the book, prepare the release of my second novel and organize my outline for writing the third in this series.

Whew! Anyone else tired? It’s a lot of work sliding down the front side of the learning curve. The good news? At least this bump on my back side is free. Imagine if I had to pay someone? I’d be broke and bruised!

But I’m not. Instead, I’m an indie author who is both willful and hopeful. Now mind you I would never have tried self-publishing if I hadn’t been told I had talent—and by people other than my mother. Editors from large traditionally run houses said my writing was good, I had a great voice, nice story—they just weren’t buying.

And why weren’t they buying? Obviously there were many reasons—not wowed, wooed or moved enough I imagine, but perhaps there was something more. Something I didn’t realize until I attended a workshop a while back. It seems for the last ten years I was trying to sell women’s fiction to romance publishers. Huh? My stories were romantic, they had HEA…who knew there were nuances between genres? Call me a slow learner, but rejection letters don’t come with a set of instructions! They simply state “no thank you” in the politest of terms.

Which is understandable. Agents and editors don’t have a lot of time but I do—gobs of it! And I have energy and drive to boot, two things I’m going to need in excess on this journey because whether you’re self-pubbed or not, a good chunk of the promotional work must come from the author.

Really? You mean I don’t just sign on the dotted line and stroll to the top of the New York Time’s Bestsellers List? Hmph. So much for my overnight smashing success story. But so be it I thought, and slipped on my positive attitude cap and went to work.

“Hello peeps! Calling all FB fans—I want YOU.” (Okay, I need you.) “Care to be a Bloomin’ Warrior? Prefer to be called a Bloomin’ Beauty instead? Great. Have I got the T-shirt for you and all you have to do is spread the word about my books!”

See. Now how difficult was that? 🙂

Tons actually, but that’s the reality behind self-publishing. From social networking to marketing and promotion, book signing and selling hard copies, the job of building an audience rests with you; you and your readers. Then, provided you’re a success and everything is working according to plan, you still have to write that next book! Readers have voracious appetites you know, especially romance readers and they’ll expect your next novel, tout de suite.

Ah…our load is heavy but our hearts are light. Exhausted, but light and bright as we shout, “Hold on, it’s coming, it’s coming!”

You see, as an indie author I need my readers more than ever because without them, I do not exist. My books are not sitting on the book shelves of the local bookstore calling out to passersby, “Pick me! Pick me!” They’re not stored away in some online bookstore, pining for that click of a mouse… And they never see the inside of a library (unless carried in by a loyal fan). In truth, without readers my books simply become non-existent. Irrelevant, if you will.

So snap to it and help me get this dream off the ground! Because in the end, after the last page is written, the cover painstakingly chosen and the formatting perfected, this is my most important reason for beginning a career as a self-published author. I’m following a dream, pursuing my passion. If no one else reads my books other than my daughter, I’ll be satisfied. Okay, that’s a lie. I’ll still write them, but I’d rather share them with everyone!

Also, don’t forget the DISCOVER THE LOST release party and contest is still going strong. Leave a comment on this or any of the blogs on my blog tour for a chance to win the grand prize and check out the contest page for additional opportunities to win!

Finally, don’t forget that on August 11 at 9 pm I will be hosting a live video event with Rachel Kramer Bussel. Drop by to discuss OBSESSED, Rachel’s latest erotic romance release and for a chance to win some goodies. We’ll be live and chatting, but also answering any and all questions you may have!

8 thoughts on “To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish, That is the Question.”

  1. It is good to know that self publishing can be advantageous in a number of ways. You can get even more targeted leads with Kindle publishing! I don’t know that. It is said that having your Kindle book (or, even better, many Kindle books) out there will do a lot of the marketing for you. As long as you give your books enticing titles and price them to sell, you will be able to sell lots of them.

    Inside your Kindle book, you can include a reason for your reader to visit your website for more information. If you offer them an additional special report on the subject in which they’ve just demonstrated an interest by buying your book, they’re very likely to “bite.” Amazing!

  2. I self-published my first book, THE HEAVENS WEEP FOR US AND OTHER STORIES, with Outskirts Press, a very reputable company, and was very pleased with the product. I hired an artist friend of mine to do the cover and, since I’m a professional editor, I did all my own editing. There was a very quick turn-around on Outskirts’ part. I had the box of books on my front porch within a few weeks of my sending in the final round of galley proofs. Outskirts took care of the ISBN, the copyright, Library of Congress, etc. My full cost for doing all this? About $500, since I caught them at a half-price summer sale when I signed up with them. This was in 2009. This little self-published book has now won 4 national honors, showing us all that even something as modest as self-publishing can still bring us much-needed affirmation that we did the right thing in bringing our little book into the “light of day.” That’s what drives me, and many authors: not getting wealthy, but just sharing our work. Of course, I do all my own PR, which is indeed hard work…but enjoyable. So, folks: don’t sit around and wait for an agent or a contract. GO OUT INTO THE “AUTHOR WORLD” WITH YOUR HEAD HELD HIGH. WHEN YOU’RE READY, YOU’RE READY!

  3. I LOVE blogs. Book blogs, reading blogs, writing blogs, travel blogs, garden blogs–I love them ALL! Sure they tend to distract me from my writing, but they’re worth it. 🙂

  4. I will admit that my e-book file is growing day by day, but I still look for print first… with e-books, I have found so many authors that were unfamiliar to me… and now it is getting harder and harder to pick and choose which books I will get with my book budget… wonderful blogs have expanded my reading, but it truly is getting harder to choose…

  5. My only problem with self published books is that they go to e-book type devices & not paperback. I have not broken down to get one yet. I think I need to soon to get Aztec Gold. One thing to get noticed is to join a group like writerspace. That is how I found Caridad. GOOD LUCK!! As soon as I get my Kindle or what ever I decide, you will be on my to buy list.

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