It’s no secret that I have chosen to self-publish When the Mask Falls and take it to market myself, as opposed to taking the more traditional route of seeking out publishers or agents, submitting my manuscript according to their strict guidelines and then sitting back with fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
I will admit it was a hard decision and I went back and forth on it A LOT; there are considerable downsides involved in self-publishing; it’s a lot of work, it’s stressful and it’s also expensive so why would anyone do it? I will add that this is not the first time I have self-published a book, I published a non-fiction title a few years ago and I learned a lot from doing that, I also made a bit of money from it and still do actually, so I know the mechanics of it all which definitely helps and I know what to expect from it all. I also run a business in my day job, so that side of things does not scare me either.
Despite having a little prior experience, I was well aware that the world of fiction is very different to non-fiction so I did a serious amount of research and spent time with people that know about this type of publishing, agents and authors mostly (published and self-published), sometimes at pre-arranged talks and lectures, some paid for, some free and on one occasion at a BBQ, which I was invited to – just thought I would clarify! I also did a lot of internet research, although you have to be sceptical when using the internet as a source of advice.
At this point I would like to point out that this is not a bitter route to self-publishing, my book was looked at by an agent and they liked it. I made this decision consciously for the sole benefit of the book, me, my pocket and the experience!
Its a dead cert!
So, my reasoning started here; if I opted for the agent/publisher route the book could take upwards of two years before it hit the shelves – assuming of course that it made it that far, in which case I was back to self-publishing anyway. If I did it myself, I could have a book print ready in a matter of hours! Of course, I want a beautifully created book so it would actually take about six months, but still a lot faster, and a dead cert!
New authors advances are usually very poor, and understandably so, a publisher has very little idea how they will be received by the public which makes them a high risk. With this in mind, many new books are only ever printed once and publishers don’t tend to invest a lot of time or money into promoting their new author either, which means that much of that first print run can end up in discount stores! Taking control of the whole process means I can do promote myself and my book with full force, do as many print runs as I like and really get the most out of it.
Handing my sweat and tears over to a third party also means that they get to make decisions about most aspects of the book including the design and layout, how it is edited and even elements of the story. That might be less stressful, but anyone that knows me will know how fussy I can be, so this would be a hard cord to cut.
There are downsides to self-publishing, and they are biggies! Distribution is a major one, as a self-published author I would easily be able to sell paperbacks and e-books via Amazon, but getting them into bricks and mortar stores is a whole other kettle of fish. Store owners are very nervous of unknown authors, they are in business to make profit after all, and the big names sell! It’s a no brainer for them. However, not so many of us still buy books in stores, sadly. Amazon really dominates the market, so how much will it really affect my sales?
Its not cheap!
And then there is the money! I could do it on the cheap, but I want a beautifully crafted piece of work that I can be proud to say is mine, and that means spending a bit of cash. Creating beautiful novels takes quite a lot of cash actually, as I am finding out, and is the main reason that new authors find it so hard to get book deals. Your initial print run alone could set you back thousands, (the more you buy the better the price per book), good quality artwork isn’t cheap either and a massive chunk will go to your editor. But they are all necessary costs if you want something that will stand proudly on the book shelf.
After all that deliberation, I still decided it is the best option for me and I will figure out the issues as I go. As for the cash needed? Well, I have an interesting plan for that, watch this space…!
What would you have done?
What route do you think I should have taken?