We all know about the old stigma attached to self publishing so I won’t discuss that, except to say I never dreamed I'd think about taking that route. I wanted to be published traditionally and nothing else would do. Well I got published traditionally and I’ve changed my tune. Late this year, I'll venture down the self-publishing road for the reasons outlined below.
Distribution – I know what I’m told about the distribution of my novels by my publisher and by what I see online. Getting the book imported and distributed in Jamaica has been an uphill struggle. I think the struggle is winning. If I publish my own work, I’ll know EXACTLY where it is available and to whom.
Pricing – I understand the costs my publisher incurred by taking on my book/s and why they have to sell at the price they do. The downside to that is the fact that nobody’s buying my books because there are thousands of other novels readers can buy for much less.
Marketing - I’m not going to say that no marketing has been done by my publisher, but I’m not sure what it involved. In 2008, my marketing efforts started with Writer on the Go, a blog that was eventually taken over by a phishing operation. I had to abandon it. I started my marketing plan there and since then I’ve ventured feet first into pushing my work both locally and on the internet.
Disappointment with the Traditional Model
The traditional route is not what I envisioned it to be. I expected marketing/PR, my books available all over the place, stuff like that. Didn’t happen. The reviews I got from book clubs are those I initiated myself. I thought all this stuff was par for the traditional publishing course. My publisher was gracious enough to send out the books to be reviewed. I have another book out and my publisher was kind enough to provide copies for a giveaway I ran on this blog. There are no reviews for Dissolution yet, but I’ve initiated the conversation about getting it reviewed. Need to follow that up.
Product Marketability – (Does anybody but me give a hoot about what I'm selling?)
My work-in-progress is about three female friends who have relationship problems. Two of them end up having extra-marital affairs. The third isn’t married but – as I put it in the book – ‘is handicapped by bad taste in men’. Needless to say, all three find themselves up to the eyeballs in problems, some of which have disastrous consequences. The second book picks up seven years later with a new set of problems.
I’ve put out some feelers, but nary a bite has come my way. No matter how well written the story, if publishers/agents think don’t think it will be a commercial success, they won’t buy it. I remember one publisher telling me that Jamaica is a hard sell. I didn’t believe it for a second. I thought it was more a case of your-book-isn’t-up-our-alley-so-no-thanks. I was right not to believe because that same book was picked up by another North American publisher.
Given my doubts as to whether any agent/publisher will buy a story about two cheating women and one who takes a while to wise up and stop being a convenience for an inconsiderate boyfriend, I might as well publish it myself. (Yes, that was a humdinger of a run-on sentence).
Hubris or Plain Old Pride
I could have said I have a story to tell, but I’m gonna call this plain old pride or as dictionary.com puts it ‘an excess of ambition’. I’ve proven myself as a writer. Two of my books are published and the third (contracted to Wild Child Publishing) will be going through a second round of edits shortly.
I’ve gotten good responses to my pet project from other writers on my network and my main beta reader. I’ve taken advice and done some rewriting. I’m still rewriting. I’ve breathed life into these women. I love them and think their story is unique. If I can believe what my reviewers tell me, Dionne, Justine and Kyra are worth showing off before John Public.
I’m back to control, not in terms of distribution, marketing and pricing, but with respect to ownership. I want complete say over some of my work. Distraction and the sequel Sweet Music Man will put me in that position. I’ve been studying the business of self publishing for months because I do copious reading and investigating before taking on any new project.
Sitting in Limbo (Not my cup of tea)
I go crazy if I'm not immersed in something or other. Writers produce, submit and wait, and wait, and then wait some more. Last year, my YA project went on submission. The editor had compliments about my writing style and asked for the full manuscript. However, the be all and end all is that I won’t hear back from them until they have words with the education ministry about a plot point in the novel. I don’t know how government ministries work in other countries. In Jamaica, there’s a strong possibility that I’ll be dead before the ministry ever responds. Soon as I’ve placed Distraction with an editor, I’m on to my YA books.
Based on the fact that the main characters in these books are ordinary – no witches, wolves or vampires, I might also have to publish them myself.
Any of you out there thinking seriously about self-pubbing? If not, what would make you consider it?