If there is anyone that I answer to when it comes to my writing and its future…it is my younger self. It’s the young girl in me that has wanted to write as long as she could remember. She seems to be the driver of this ship, so I ask, “To self-publish or to not self-publish?”
In response, my younger self stamped her foot, crossed her arms, and gave me the “are-you-kidding-me” look and said, “No chance. It won’t feel the same! No way! You want that experience of going to New York to meet your publisher and see your name in [metaphorical] lights!” Alright, we better let her stop there, because she can really go on a tangent…and immaturity aside, I still wonder about the experience of self-publishing, and whether or not it would feel the same to me.
While my younger self avoids this blog post entirely –she’s pouting in a corner somewhere—I still can’t help but recognize the slow demise of printed, published books meeting the same fate as the music industry. And with recent news of Border’s Books going under, and the growing popularity of self-publishing sites such as Amazon, Smashwords and Feedbooks, and the ever-growing popularity of eReaders, I question what the future is of publishing through the standard publishing house? Will the published paperback get to be as rare as people buying CD’s and listening to them on a CD Walkman? I mean, I do have friends who still buy CDs, just like I will always buy my books…
And not to mention that I still want to get that letter of approval. I want someone else to tell me my book is damn good and they want it published for millions of people to read (or at least thousands…hell, hundreds would be good for me). I want to do a book signing. I want to look my name up on a library computer and see my name with my books there and hopefully a few people on the waiting list wanting to read them. Is that a childhood dream that needs maturing? What are the real experiences of self-published authors?
With all of this rolling around in my head, I turned to my followers on Twitter, my Google Plus circle, and my peers on the Writer’s Digest community.
On Twitter, I asked writers to talk about their experiences with self-publishing and if they would ever do it again…and in 150 characters or less…
@RyanLSchneider told me, “I will only self-publish in the future. Decent learning curve. But holding all the cards is priceless.” (You can also check out his blog to find details on his book and experiences as a writer at http://authorryanschneider.blogspot.com/)
@Peter_Smalley told me, “Self-pub is the radical idea readers can buy a great book for $5, of which the author gets $5.” (Check out his newest book Grimme)
And on Google Plus (my latest in Social Media fascination…check out my blog post on inspiring online communities to find out why)…I asked similar questions on the experience of self-publishing…
Michelle Murrain said, “It has been great/frustrating/rewarding/painful and I wouldn’t do it any other way. Happy there is an outlet for quality work that might not get published otherwise.” (Check out her website Casitian Universe to get details on her latest novel)
I also got some great feedback and resources from Elizabeth Flora Ross on a blog post she wrote in 2010 about the pros and cons of self-publishing. Something she wrote on this post struck me the most, “My biggest failing was that I did not realize it takes much more than simply writing a good story to make a book successful. It requires a great deal of time and money, not to mention connections and a reputation.” She even questions the future benefits of self-publishing now that she has begun to query literary agents publish her second book the traditional way (Check out Elizabeth Flora Ross’s book here!)
But, on another completely different note…Elizabeth also gave me so great resources for writer’s on self-publishing and I stumbled across a blog post by Nathan Bransford, a novelist and former literary agent, entitled, Amanda Hocking and the 99-Cent Kindle Millionaires, which immediately caught my attention. He describes the success of Amanda Hocking a self-published author who managed to make a million dollars off of her eBook Switched. In his post, Bransford continues to emphasize that this is not usual success for self-published authors. At the same time, though, he does state, “[There is] more money to the [self-published] author per copy at $2.99 than a traditionally published eBook at $9.99.”
Yet, I still had my reservations about self-publishing and questions still remained. I still wondered whether it felt published to be a self-published author. If I really went this route, would I feel the need to explain myself if I told a friend I was published and had gone through the route of self-publishing? With those thoughts rolling around in my brain, I turned to one of my favorite writing communities, Writer’s Digest Community, and I asked the same question about the experiences of self-publishing. On writer, Tye Holland, talked about his experiences with self-publishing and faced a similar realization of the work with marketing as did Elizabeth.
And then another person responded, author, Thomas Wilson, who gave me an extensive, candid answer (which I am going to post later on as a separate link on my page), talking about his experiences with self-publishing. In response to my question about whether they felt they had reached “success” with self-publishing,Thomas replied, “I am living my dream! My book is published, and selling all on it’s own. I found a much better editor, completely rewrote [my second book] No Rules of Engagement and edited it spending every night from 8 [to] 12…while working a full time job Monday through Friday. It is miles ahead of my [first book] Whisper. I am currently working on the cover art, synopsis, and movie trailer for this book with plans to self-publish it September 11, 2011 on Smashwords and Amazon. I am not writing query letters or getting discouraged, I am writing, getting better, and being successful with heading towards my goal.”
Let me quote that again, “I am not…getting discouraged, I am writing, getting better, and being successful with heading towards my goal.”
Poignantly, he states, “I am even sure over the last couple hundred years some truly talented author’s work never saw the light of day because no agent or publisher gave them a chance. Now everybody at least gets a chance.”
After all the people I spoke with, and the experiences they shared, I realized something very informative about self-publishing. When I started writing this blog post, I came from the place of curiosity and whether or not self-publishing would feel the same to me, and whether I would feel successful if I chose this route. Through my bit of research and talking with self-published authors, it seems as if self-publishing is what you make it. Not only that, self-publishing lets the author get out of the passenger seat, and be the one to drive the car. And somehow, this appeals to me the most, especially since I love being in charge of things (my younger self, currently over her sulk-session, vehemently agrees.)
Today, I am inspired to write because of the possibilities that lie before me. I no longer have to mourn the loss of a book while it sits dusty, and unpublished, in my desk drawer. I can take action and become part of the learning experience of being a writer. I can be read. I am inspired because the publishing industry seems to be turning on its heels and starting to paying attention to the people who have made their own success in this venue. And I am inspired because self-publishing seems to be the new YouTube for writers…and you know what? You just never know…
22 August 2011
Posted on 8:00 AM by Nicole Michelle | 22 comments
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