Go West!

Self-publishing isn’t a new thing. Some of the world’s classics were self- published, although I’m not so arrogant as to think I rank up there with the likes of Mark Twain, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Willa Cather, e.e. cummings, and Alexander Dumas.

However, it’s new to me. When I was trying to get published back in the ’90s, self-publishing (then only vanity publishing, really) was not only expensive, but the kiss of death. Now…not so much. With concepts such as ebooks, print-on-demand, and the internet itself, the technology is there to do it quickly, relatively cheaply, and to one’s satisfaction (i.e., artistic control). Filmmakers have been doing this for years as have musicians.

I’ll not go into all the reasons I decided to do this myself, but this post by agent Lori Perkins validated my decision to do so.

I’m all about DIY, free markets, and workaround solutions. No, I won’t have a print run of 175,000. Hell, I won’t even have a print run, period. But I think I have a good product that will never see the light of day unless I take the initiative. My hat’s off to those who’ve gone the traditional route. Either I suck as a writer or I’m too far out in the stratosphere.

And I don’t suck as a writer.

7 thoughts on “Go West!

  • April 24, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    I completely agree with this. I feel like the Internet really blurs the line between “published” and “not published”, and that people who manage to build an audience online shouldn’t be poo-pooed for it. For example, take my review of His Dark Materials. Literally tens of thousands of people have read this review (probably a lot more than have read many “published” reviews of the same work), even though it’s just a blog entry. This happened because people found my review interesting and linked to it.

    I’m currently looking for a publisher for my new novel, and 90% of my motivation is just the fact that it would help to have an editor/publisher’s stamp of approval when talking to other writers. For readers, all you need is a (free) spot on the Internet and a few enticing articles to convince them they want to read your work. 😀

    p.s.: there’s no functioning link for your e-book. If you want people to download it, you need to link to the actual file…

  • April 27, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Oh, hey! Howdy again.

    The book isn’t available until July August, so my download links are hidden. 😀 I’m sneaky like that. I should probably make it more clear that its release date is a bit away.

    I saw the “His Dark Materials” trilogy at Target and knew it’d been billed as “atheist fantasy,” but of course I’m a fan of ebooks and I’m waiting for the multiformat ebook. Kinda like waiting for the movies for book lovers. Heh.

    As for self-publishing, I look at it this way: All I read nowadays is that: A) the manuscript must be perfect with the perfect hook, the perfect query letter, the perfect blurb, B) you must get an agent, C) you must come with marketing plan (subtext: you will spend your entire after-tax advance on financing it). [I’ve heard C often enough from new pubbed authors to get the sense that they can’t all be lying. I’ve heard a not-so-equal number of new pubbed authors say C did not apply to them.], and D) your book only has a 90-day shelf life unless you hit some ethereal tipping point, E) you have no control over your backlist because someone else controls those rights for however many years you signed them away, F) you run the risk of having your book packaged badly [i.e., no artistic control], G) if your first book doesn’t do as well as the publisher bet on, forget about the second book, and this is all after H) you’ve spent years and years and years submitting and enduring rejection, I see no purpose in it.

    A writer writes to be read.

    I see no return on my investment of time and money (postage, supplies), and at least half my brain is wired for business and entrepreneurship. If I write a book, hire an editor, get a design/publishing team, get accounts with Lightning Source and Amazon, Powell’s and Barnes & Noble and Borders, I get A) 100% profits, B) complete artistic control, C) a return on my time, D) emotional stability from not having to deal with gatekeeper rejection, E) a more fair barometer of saleability because the marketplace will make the determination for itself, F) no agent required (oh, I guess that goes back to the gatekeeper problem), G) more than a 90-day shelf life, H) complete control of your creative rights, and I) no conditional future publishing.

    The only advantage that I can see of traditional publishing versus self-publishing is the prestige of having been allowed in by the gatekeepers and the stigma of self-publishing (which is going away, slowly but surely as more people are educated). But at its core, getting published by one of the traditional publishers is, IMO, simply a bad business decision.


  • November 12, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    hehe I’m reading your archives.

    And your comment here, gah, I could have written that. Besides the “vanity” of being able to say: (fill in big name publisher) published me, the only true benefit I could see to traditional publishing with a major house would be the vast “reach” I could get distribution and exposure-wise. But I can’t truly optimize that without already having a platform before-hand.

    Which brings me back to indie publishing.

    Then of course there is small publishing or epublishing (with an epub, not me), and they can’t do anything for me that I can’t do for myself. The only value there is “validation” and my fellow writers going: “whee, you’re worthy.”

    But screw that. I don’t need that much validation. I’m perfectly cool going indie.

  • November 12, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    the only true benefit I could see to traditional publishing with a major house would be the vast “reach” I could get distribution and exposure-wise.

    Not, IMO, a benefit if you only get 60 to 90 days to prove your numbers.

    I’ve said (somewhere on this here blog) that I’m not looking at the books I have in the hopper as a “series.” I’m looking at it as my 6-year business plan.

    My product. Let me show u it.

  • November 12, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    hehe exactly. Which is why I said, in order to optimize it, I’d have to already have a built-in platform, which brings me back to indie. 😛

    hehehe @ “My product. Let me show u it.” 😀

    Yeah I’m on a 10 year plan.

  • November 12, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Cause 10 just sounds like a nice round number, and there is a big open space of time for me to figure out what I’m doing.

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