Monday, April 23, 2012

T: Target - self-publishing?

Getting published. That's been my target for a long time. These days, of course, that target is moving and splitting into a couple dozen targets: "legacy" publishers, small press publishers, self-publishing... what to aim at?

There's been a lot of blogging about the ups and downs of self-publishing. A lot of it is persuasive, too. It's made me ask myself what parts of "being published" make it my target.
  • Craving the validation. Which is foolish, yes, because for every one person who likes my writing, there will be at least one other who doesn't care for it.
  • Earn money. I'll admit to wanting that.
  • Wanting to entertain people. It kinda surprises me to say this.
  • Craving the validation. Yeah, twice. 
It seems to me that if a traditional (legacy?) publisher agreed to publish one of my novels, there are some risks involved:
  • Little or no promotion for the book results in it vanishing into the horde of other published titles.
  • Screw-ups in the production process result in a book that misrepresents me and/or angers the readers. 
  • Production/promotion/reception of my book gets sabotaged by forces beyond my control, making it DOA.
Then again, these are the same risks I face with a small press or as a self-publisher... but if I do it myself, I retain control of more of my rights. My sales will be small, but I'll get a larger cut of them. I could hire an editor and a proofreader, rather than rely on luck. I've got enough graphic design, prepress/production and HTML coding experience to do my own layout. The only catch is marketing, as I see it. Technically, I could hire a little marketing firm too.

I could go over to and commit to handing out all kinds of goodies if people were willing to help. Put together an estimate of editing and production costs, make a trailer video... it's a thought. I've done stupider things.

How has all the talk about self-publishing influenced you?


Sarah McCabe said...

I've been firmly in the self publishing camp for a long time. Now if only I could actually finish writing something to publish!

Traditional publishing is a waste of time. Unless they're offering you a huge 6 figure deal, there's nothing they're going to do for you that you can't do yourself much better. Get editing, get a good cover, get it up on Amazon and all the rest. Don't worry about marketing. Just keep writing and keep publishing. The money will trickle in at first. But self publishers need to think long term. You build your virtual shelf one story at a time and keep building it. You'll be building a fan base at the same time. And the money will never stop coming in.

Elizabeth Twist said...

My understanding of the game of self-publishing is that, just like Sarah says, you have to think long term and get a bunch of stuff out there. It is no good to put out one novel or even one short story and then get frustrated no one is buying it. It is a different track in some ways than trying to go the traditional route.

I am terrible at proofreading my own stuff. However I publish, I want someone to go over my work with a fine toothed comb.

I think as they come into their own, smaller presses will be able to offer more in terms of PR / marketing. I know World Weaver Press, for example, includes the fabulous editorship of Eileen Wiedbrauk and a PR professional who works on promotion.

Personally I'm excited about all our options. Writers are gaining so much more control over how our careers pan out.

A-Z @ Elizabeth Twist

L. Blankenship said...

That was, actually, one of the more persuasive parts of the self-publishing advice I've seen: keep writing. Publicity I might not be so good at -- writing, I can do.

Thanks for commenting!

L. Blankenship said...

I agree, small presses do have a lot of potential too. Thanks for commenting!

Jessica L. Foster said...

I think it is awesome when people self-publish and bring to the world great books. I haven't even considered self-publishing because I am so young and inexperienced. Thanks for sharing!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There are risks both ways. You're smart to recognize the risk of traditional publishing because few see any. Either path, it's still up to the author to promote.

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