I saw a blog post earlier entitled “Self-Publishing is for Quitters” and to be honest, the title alone is what spurred this rant to come about. However, the blog itself wasn’t bad-mouthing or trash-talking self-publishing. In fact, it was about how happy the writer was that she had chosen to self-publish.
I’m not self-published. My upcoming novels are being produced through an indie company and distributed through Smashwords. I’m totally fine with this because it means that while, yes, I could have done most of the work myself (like editing, cover design and marketing) I have a third party group of people who are willing, not only to do that work for me and in effect, give me extra time to do my writing, but also that there is a third party group of people willing to stake their names, business and reputation on my books, my writing and my personality in general. Because, really we’re selling ourselves as much as we’re selling our books these days, aren’t we?
On the other hand, I have since been tirelessly working out things like book release parties, both online and in person, merchandise opportunities, trying to figure out how to build a platform and extend my reach/viewership, promotional things that I’m not at the liberty to discuss, finding out the best people I know to do artwork for upcoming books and countless other things that would normally fall under the scope of traditional publishers and their responsibilities.
And I’m okay with this.
I have a punk rock, rockstar, DIY, go-getter attitude. I have, after all, been running a home business for 5 years. (Which is something I’ll discuss later.) I can’t sit idly by while other people do everything for me.
I might as well be self-published at the rate I’ve been going.
And I mean that in the best way possible.
I don’t think that people entirely understand how hard it is to publish a book. I know there’s a huge debate going on between self/indie-publishing and traditional publishing, and it has been made worse by the shitty contracts put forth by the imprints Hyrda etc. this week.
I am a firm believer in that you gotta do what’s right for you. If you get an “in” with a traditional publisher, then all the more power to ya’. If you get an indie publisher contract, awesome! If you choose to self-publish then I sincerely applaud you. You have to do what feels right for you and what you’re going to be more okay with in the long run.
However, you have to realize that there is a lot more, and I mean A LOT more, to publishing a book than just clicking “publish” on the Smashwords or CreateSpace website.
You HAVE to edit. You have to. There is no quality control in the self-pubbing business and the waters have been tainted by books that haven’t had thorough edits done. You HAVE to have a great cover. People are attracted to pretty covers. I know I am. You HAVE to promote before you publish. You can’t just click the button, sit back and HOPE that the sales will roll in. You need to get out there, get visible, get interest generated in your work.
It isn’t easy.
In fact, it’s NOTHING like making a product, showing up at a comic convention and saying “hello” to people and having them buy your wares. It’s a struggle. You will spend hours and days and weeks and months screaming into the perpetual void that is Twitter and other social networks. You will blog. A lot. And no one will answer. You will sit there watching your daily stats be stuck at 2 or 3 and you will feel like it’s not worth it. You’ll go to your day job and flip burgers or sell shoes or shave monkeys for fake eyelash material or whatever it is that you do. You’ll hate it all. You’ll want to quit.
It’s hard. It really is.
But the rewards are so worth it.
My book(s) haven’t even come out yet and I am already feeling the rewards. Honestly!
I have met so many amazing people online and in real-life that I wouldn’t have met without writing. I have learned so many things about publishing, about book-writing, about myself, even. I have put myself “out there” in ways I hadn’t before.
And you know what?
It’s been worth it.
So keep at it. You have a story to tell and a book to publish. No matter how you do it, do what’s right for you.
And dammit, don’t quit. It’ll be hard and it’ll suck and you’ll cry and scream and wanna smash your laptop into a billion freakin’ pieces, but don’t quit.
It’ll be the hardest thing you ever do, but in the end, it will be worth it.