Last year when I was pondering future ELEW post topics, I thought a series on self-publishing basics would be a good idea as I know a lot of writers, even seasoned ones, who find the entire thing baffling and intimidating.
I brought it up to the Gothic Goddess since, although members can post anything they want if it sticks to our guidelines, she’s my fellow co-founder and I know how she feels about self-publishing (and I respect those feelings). Which is to say she is quite opposed to the practice in many instances. I, on the other hand, make my entire living off of self-publishing now–both with my own backlist I’ve put out myself and as a freelancer working with other self-publishers. Despite the both of us coming at from opposite ends of the spectrum, we actually end up agreeing on the subject quite often.
So I bring up the topic now with the caveat that I often agree with Dina and don’t necessarily think it’s the best choice for every writer, but it’s kind of like sex and teenagers in that you can tell people not to do a thing but they will do it anyway, so they might as well be armed with honesty and knowledge of the subject. I’m not going to wag my finger at strangers and tell them not to do something–if you put care and thought into your product, I don’t much care how it gets to the market.
Now, we come to the introductory post on this series: the reason WHY I think you should self-publish.
The answer is…because it’s right for you.
Everyone has an opinion in self-pubbing (or being “indie”–the term that makes me fucking shudder–or “author-publishing” or what have you) and if you go Googling, you’ll find hundreds of thousands of words written on the subject. Lots of self-appointed gurus screaming to the masses, snake oil salesman pushing you to buy their wares, fear-mongering and snobbery too.
The thing is, I believe there are very few absolutes in publishing (or in anything). There’s what works for you and what doesn’t, and that might be entirely different from what works for someone else. If you want to make this a career, know that your path might not be the one you expected and might not look like anyone else’s, and that’s okay.
You should self-publish because it’s right for you.
If it isn’t right for you…then you shouldn’t.
If it’s not right for you RIGHT NOW, then you shouldn’t.
If it’s not right for THIS PARTICULAR PROJECT YOU’RE WORKING ON, then you shouldn’t.
That’s all it comes down to and, quite frankly, it’s no one’s fucking business but yours why you make the decisions you do. I happen to think it’s a good idea for established authors, out of print backlists, cancelled series, short and/or quirky projects that are hard to place elsewhere, and not necessarily a good idea for new and inexperienced writers (and as I post on different self-publishing subjects, it’ll be clear to you what pitfalls are going to make it tough on a new writer–some of them aren’t what you’d expect). It might also be good for the complete opposite of what I listed. Only you can know what’s right for you.
If the ONLY reason you’re not going to self-publish is because you’re afraid and find it overwhelming, though? That’s stupid. Don’t make decisions based on fear. This is business. You make decisions based on what is good for your business, end of story.
I’m not going to waste several thousand words listing the pros and cons because my next series of posts, covering the basics and demystifying the whole process, will either deter or encourage depending on whether this is the right thing for you or not.
If it’s not, that’s cool. You don’t have to self-publish.
If it is, this should hopefully help you along a little.
Either way, education’s good for everyone.
Why are you qualified to talk about this, Mama Bitchstress?
I have worked in every area of publishing, almost literally.
Yes, I am–first and foremost–a writer. I’ve written 30+ books, I’ve been published for nine years, etc.
But I started working in publishing in 2007 and I did nearly everything at one time or another. I worked in promotions/marketing–I wrote press releases, designed ads, gave PR advice, coordinated with book reviewers, etc. I worked in acquisitions, reading thousands of manuscripts in slush and offering contracts on about 1% of them. I worked as senior editor, coordinating editors with manuscripts, and I edited around thirty books myself. I worked as an art director, assigning covers to artists, and was the artist for dozens of book covers as well. I managed production for multiple imprints, and during the very brief spare moments I had, I helped with royalties and contracts, ebook formatting and uploads.
Now I run a freelance business where I do a bunch of that stuff for clients, like a one stop shop for self-publishers.
These are the topics, then, that we will cover. Ebook formats, hiring an editor and artist, places to distribute print, basic promotion for newbies, crowdfunding, and all that jazz.
So, my evil writers, if you’re got questions about the basics, Mama Bitchstress has you covered. Tune in next time when we talk about ebook formats!