Self-Publishing

There is a lot of talk right now about self-publishing vs “traditional” publishing. With the success of Amanda Hocking and John Locke, it’s easy to see why. Even one of my personal favorite authors, Holly Lisle, has decided to go the self-publishing route.

I hadn’t really considered this option until recently, but now, indie publishing is starting to sound like an intriguing idea. I’m doing some research on the process and what’s involved, just to get an idea. I have one of my novels with several beta readers who don’t normally read YA paranormal, just to get a better opinion of the manuscript. And I’m weighing my options.

What do you think about self-publishing/indie publishing?

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4 thoughts on “Self-Publishing

  1. Self-Publishing – Good News, Good News, Bad News
    Self-Publishing may well be the future. With the popularity of e-readers, the dropping costs, and the free software for PCs and Mac, the electronic book is on the rise. Amazon reported that for 2010 they sold $180 in eBooks for every $100 in print version (for hard covers). Authors like James Patterson surpassed the 500k mark in eBook sales. It’s all good news, especially when one considers that the publication business is worse than Hollywood. By that, I refer to the “return on investment” factor. Readers and movie and television watchers, see and read only the stories that a publication company or production company will invest their dollars in. Makes sense, these are businesses and businesses need to make money. The problem arises when the decision makers are caught up in reproducing the same stories repeatedly (see recent articles on Hollywood remakes). This is good for business and very bad for art. Recently I went to B&N to fulfill my teen daughter’s request for a new book. As I browsed the selections, I was surprised, well maybe alarmed, that every book seemed to be the same book. Now I know there are creative, intelligent and artistic authors out there…that’s not the problem. The problem is that publication is limited to things that have been popular…e.g. vampires that glitter, dead girls alive, well you know what I mean. I’m sure these are great books, but where is the new idea? Indie publications are a great opportunity for new work to get on the market and maybe even raise the art form.
    It’s easy to self-publish which is the other good news. Additionally, Amazon collaborates with companies like Creative Space, so you can do both an eBook and a print on demand. I would caution a print on demand author to research the ISBN number requirement and to know exactly what rights are given up when taking a “free” number from a print on demand company. However, since many authors would never be published any other way, the tradeoff is probably worth it. So it’s cheap to do, it will open the world to more writing variety, and the commissions are better than a first timer would ever get. So now the “bad.”
    70% of Americans believe they could write a novel…or plan to write one. We all know that writing is difficult, requires discipline, and most of all, needs editing. Self-publishing does not require any standard of quality. Yep, as long as it’s not porn, no one is checking the work. This means that a large number of these eBooks could be really poor stuff. Without the publication house filtering out stuff that should never see print and then spending months on copy-edits, e-publication could get a bad name very quickly. So the natural course will be new epub companies who do all of that stuff for higher fees and then ultimately accept and reject work based on what they “think” will sell – the return on investment model…and then we are back to square one. That said, however, I think epub is a great way to go and will lead to an entire new world of reading experiences – but let’s hope they are good experiences..

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    1. I agree with you: there are good and bad points to the idea of self-publishing. The author can stay true to their vision of their work, and not have to conform to the “sameness” that you mentioned filling bookshelves. Now, I do read YA (and tend to write a lot of it as well), but you’re right: there’s a long of the same territory being covered and recovered. I’m not a huge fan of glittering vampires…but they sell, and sell well, so I can see where the temptation is to write about them. And if that’s what you love to write, I say go for it. But if you’re just doing it hoping to jump on the trend wagon…I’m not a fan.

      There has always been such negative connotations associated with self-publishing, but that’s starting to disappear, which I think is great. Of course, if the market is flooded with really crappy self-published books, that’s not going to help. You just have to hope the cream will rise to the top.

      This is just an idea I’m toying with right now, and one I intend to do more research on, but it’s looking like a good option for me at this point.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

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  2. Well, as you probably already know, I’ve jumped the fence. For the longest time I was working toward the traditional route, write a book, find an agent, find a publisher, market said book, rinse, repeat. But not anymore. For me at least, I think self-publishing fits perfectly. I really enjoy writing. I have stories to tell. But do I really want all the pressure of a publishing contract, with deadlines, expectations, etc… ? Also I’m a graphic designer/web designer so the production side is easy-peasy.

    I agree with Raymond above, it could get ugly out there. A whole lot of crap could and will get published, and dilute the waters, but, I also think there are mechanisms in place to counter that, and they are the readers. If you write crap, you won’t get any readers. You won’t get any positive reviews on Amazon, and you won’t have any sales. The large portion of those 70% of Americans cranking out those lousy novels will fall into obscurity. I truly believe there are tools in place to help the cream rise. Sure there is still luck involved. Good novels will be lost in the mix, but that happens in traditional publishing too.

    I think we need to approach it as a business. I’ve owned my own web development company for 14 years now. I know to be successful I have to surround myself with people who know what they are doing. I need to find people that have strengths where I am weak. I think a whole industry will grow (or expand) around helping authors create the best work they can.

    I have been working with a couple of editors at The Editorial Department to really whip my novel into shape. Although kind of expensive, they have been amazing. My novel is light-years ahead of where it was when we started. I’ve still had to make a judgement call on whether or not they really know their stuff, and I guess time will tell, but at this point I think they have helped me in the one major area I am weakest in (the editing side). To me this is the main thing traditional publishers bring to the table. So if I can find that outside of a traditional press, and then cover all the other aspects of publishing myself, then I should, in theory, stand a chance of making some money at it.

    I’ll definitely let you know how it goes. I am actually expecting the final edit from my editor tomorrow. After I go through those and approve the changes I agree with, Noah Zarc will be DONE! It’s been a long time coming, but through the help of editors, I am growing to trust, I truly think it will be a pretty good read. Of course finding readers is another story altogether.

    BTW, I’m sure you’ve heard of him, but J. A. Konrath has a whole lot of great things to say on his blog about the whole self-publishing thing. http://jakonrath.blogspot.com

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    1. I wasn’t actually aware you’d jumped the fence, but I don’t blame you. I’ve been writing for a long time, with the goal of going the traditional publishing route. It’s only recently I’ve been thinking about changing it up. For me, the production side isn’t the easy side. I have no clue how to go about finding someone to design cover art. I know there are editing services out there, but I have no idea how to find one that is legitimate and talented. I know there are companies that offer both of these services, along with formatting services, but only because Holly Lisle mentioned them. (Holly is planning on having a list/marketplace for her students of people who offer these services, so that is a good thing). There is so much to consider, and I have so much to learn about everything!

      Revisions are hard. I’m better at them than I used to be, thanks to Holly’s How to Revise Your Novel class, but I’d still like to have a professional editor look at my MS. I’m so happy for you that Noah Zarc is almost done! I will be very interested to see your finished project, and see how the story has grown and changed. The best of luck to you! Please keep me updated with how everything is going, as I’d love to know more about the process (and I also do reviews for Examiner.com, so I’d be happy to help you spread the word).

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