I decided I wanted to self-publish my first book. The reason I decided that self-publishing would be the right way to go was that there were a number of things I wanted to avoid. There are so many myths about authors sending in their books to a publisher; the right person reading the book then BAM! Next thing. You know they have gotten a contract and sold 500,000 copies of their book.
It is possible that someone somewhere followed that fairy tale, one publisher, the first book, money jumping in your pocket plan but there can not be many.
The things I most appreciate about self-publishing are the tasks that are avoided. Such as:
- Needing to find an agent to represent the book
- Randomly set deadlines for various activities
- Being asked to write a “vanilla” book in hope of getting more books sold
- Writing numerous letters to publishers to try to get them to read your book
- Receiving form letters with faint encouragement, when you know they never read the book
- Being bothered with the chumminess of the publishing industry
Let’s review the points above in a little bit of detail.
- You don’t need an agent. An agent’s job is to handle communications between you and whomever you are working for. Agents also promote your work to others. They are the liaison between you and your publishing house and others. Since your employer is you…you are your own agent. You must promote your own work.
- If you are working for others, especially writing a book, deadlines are set when various milestones are due. The milestones do not care about your real life. If you agreed to have the first draft completed by May 01, then by golly, you better have that first draft completed by that date. Oh, your dog died on April 25th. Too bad for you. I have had enough of randomly imposed deadlines in my particular life.
- Some mainstream publishers want a book to sell as many copies as possible. They want the book to appeal to as many readers as it can. As the book is being edited, there may be suggestions made to make the book more appealing to the average reader. As I discussed writing my first book, NEVER A $7 Whore, (Amazon launch date of August 8!) you would be surprised at the number of people that wanted me to downgrade my life story to make it more marketable. The facts of my life are the facts. It is what it is, I’m not going to change the truth to sell my book.
- Trying to have your book read is a pain. Two well known well-loved authors, Stephen King and J.K. Rawlings, were rejected over and over and over. In fact, publishers rejected Stephen King so much that he gave up. His wife sent in a manuscript that he had put in the garbage in despair because she thought it was really good. He got his deal from her actions. I don’t want to read 900 reject letters before someone might give me a chance. I will make my own chance.
I’m not going to do well in an industry where it partially depends on who you know. I don’t know anyone. I’m not that friendly. I’m an engineer. I’m a new writer. My book won’t be on Amazon until August 08. I know me. Networking is not my strong suit.
Although these are not the only reasons for self-publishing, they are the top 5 reasons why I went down that path. Each person must decide how they want to write and whether they want to use traditional publishing, self-publishing or both to get their voices heard and their ideas out into the world. No matter the path, it won’t be easy.