A year ago I dipped my proverbial toes in the self-publishing waters for the first time. I threw a novella I’d written in a mad dash onto the Kindle scene, quickly followed by one of my novels from my backlist. Since then, the learning curve has been a mountain, and I’ve been wearing those spiky-toed mountain climbing boots ever since.
Has it been a great experience? Sure. And learning, while painful in the process, always feels great when you finally get it. Has it been perfect? Heck, no! Designing the covers nearly threw me into a tizzy. I doubt they turned out good, and I bet if I’d just hired it out, I’d have had time to write five more novels during that awful time. Learning how to format the innards of a paperback still makes me shudder to think of it. Marketing is just plain a MYSTERY. Why does one thing sell and another not? Who. Knows. Well, I guess I’ve learned a few things about that.
So, then, what’s been good?
One, like I said, the learning. It’s so satisfying to realize you can do something yourself!
Two, the money. It’s great to not have to split the profits with (or give the lion’s share of the profits to) someone who didn’t write a word of that story. Here at Chez Griffith, we had a teen become a driver, and having that extra little cash cushion to pay that huge jump in insurance and other costs came in pretty handy.
Three, the immediacy. Once the project is written and edited, you can design a cover, publish the book, and bam! On to your next creative project. There aren’t months of wallowing in the query and rejection process and being stuck on a two-year timeline until it comes out. Nope, just write, publish, write again. It’s a great motivator. Speeds up productivity something fierce. I think that’s my favorite aspect, to be honest.
Now, let me clarify. I’ve done it several ways. Self-publishing came after a decade of being published traditionally. And I have to give props to my publishers. I have had almost wholly good experiences with the presses I’ve worked with. I’ve met great, genuine people, made good friends, felt really happy with the decisions I’ve made to turn my writing over to them for publication. Many kudos to these publishing houses for their true awesomeness. There are some writers who are militant self-publishers, and others who turn up the proverbial nose at anyone not picked up by a traditional publisher. I’m in neither camp.
I’ve also done collaborations with other authors, where one or two of them take the lead and act as publisher. That’s been another interesting and exciting way to go. I’ve loved that. That’s how Immersed and Strange and Lovely came about–and the Triple Treat Romance collaboration boxed set. Best of all in that aspect, the interaction with other writers has brought me a lot of joy.
For me, what it boils down to is, where can I get my story out best? Ebooks sell a ton of romances and mysteries. If that’s what I’m writing, that’s a good option. Self-publish those babies. (And definitely hire the cover design OUT. Case in point: my book The Lost Art. The cover on that? Professionally done. Sold a TON more copies than my own designs. Alas. But with self-pubbing, I could still fix that. Change them up.) But with other genres, like literary or commercial straight fiction, I can see myself going back to a traditional publisher. The distribution and readership seems better that way. If I had it to do over again, I’d still go the traditional publishing route with Big in Japan. It’s a better outlet for that genre.
You know, the Sumo Wrestler Genre.