The first time I thought about self-publishing as a viable next step in my career, I felt—as my seven-year-old would say—a little sickish. It’s a little like walking naked through the literary community with a sign on my back that says, “Pick me apart.” Did it mean I failed in traditional publishing? Would the writing community scoff at me? Shun me? Should I continue to target traditional publishers, start something new and just bury my current manuscripts? Why was I contemplating something still so often synonymous with “vanity press?”
As I often do when faced with a crossroads, I went into heavy research mode—a couple of months’ worth. The information available is abundant, and at times, overwhelming. But here’s my take on self-publishing.
What self-publishing is not:
Not a “F*%! You” to traditional publishing.
Not a way to validate my skills as a writer—this should be established way before contemplating this step.
Not a way to make a quick buck.
Not a way to get my name out there—although that is often a benefit being published, the focus needs to be on sharing a quality book.
Not a short cut to publication—there is more risk and work associated with self-publishing than traditional routes.
Not an alternative to skilled revision and editing—all writers should strive to grow in their craft and to publish the best manuscripts possible.
Not an indication that I’ve failed as a writer.
It’s not an either/or career decision. I can self-publish one manuscript or series and still shop other projects with agents and editors.
What self-publishing is:
A viable way to take a next step—a step I’m qualified to make—in my career.
A more agile timeline than traditional publishing houses. (I’ll elaborate on that in the future—when I focus on the rationale for my literary project release.)
A viable means of sharing quality books with readers.
Hard work! To be successful, I must wear lots of professional hats.
Book not edited properly, polished enough or formatted correctly.
Not having the capacity to promote/market book as needed.
Getting in over my head.
Inadvertently alienating those in mainstream publishing.
Becoming “that writer” who does nothing but promote their projects.
Making very public mistakes.
So why do it?
Sometimes a manuscript (even a very good one) cannot find the right fit in traditional publishing.
Often it’s timing—a genre or subject has trended and is on the decline; the big publishers have bought up their projects, editors don’t want it, agents can’t sell it. It may be equally as good as or even better than similar books coming out, but the timing isn’t right. It’s too late.
I know I’m a good writer with a fantastic story to tell.
I have a strong corporate background in sales and marketing that I can leverage.
Most importantly, I have an AMAZING village behind me—a supportive writers’ group, my critique partners, past Golden Heart and RITA finalists, authors, bloggers, booksellers, friends and most importantly, my family. I am surrounded by people who believe not only in my stories, but my ability to take on the role of publisher. I am truly blessed. J
The conclusion: For different yet equally compelling reasons, self-publishing is perfect for two of my finished projects—my young adult supernatural series THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN (5/24) and my stand-alone literary fiction novel ECHOES OF NEVERLAND (8/9).
The more I contemplate the journey ahead of me, the more that sickish sensation dissipates. For the first time, I feel in control of my career and very excited!!! After all, I’m releasing my first novel on May 24, 2011.
As my good friend and fellow author, Erika O’Rourke, often reminds me, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” I will be blogging about my experience, and anyone who wants to ride the waves with me is most welcome.
Project: HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN
Release date: eBook 5/24; trade paperback 6/21
The big cover reveal: Thursday 4/28.
Mood: Excited and a little sickish
Next post: 4/25
Steps (for weekend 4/22-24): Figure out/set up my author presence & upcoming project on Amazon (maybe B&N); research POD (print on demand) providers & costs; finalize production schedule; decide whether or not to hire a line editor; schedule a guest blogger for 4/29 & 5/6 “First Love Fridays”
Read before you buy at www.careycorp.com.
Your turn: What is self-publishing to you? What isn’t it?