Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Self-Publishing Gambit

Back when I first started "writing for publication" (as they say--y'know, as opposed to the traditional half-assed effort at scribing the all-American novel that never, uh, quite gets finished), a lot of non-authorly types asked me why I didn't just publish it myself.

At the time, having been thoroughly indoctrinated via my RWA membership, my answer was: Are you f'ing kidding me?

AND, at the time, it was a fairly reasonable response. After all, the unwashed minions figured all you had to do was pay someone to produce something that resembled a book and voila. Published.

Not that easy, I'd retort. Because, first: guess what? Most authors (especially first-time authors) don't write the perfect book without the benefit of another pair of eyes (belonging to an editor). Yeah, sad but true. Pesky things like grammar, dialogue, tension, STORYTELLING aren't that easy to come by without studying the craft and learning by getting feedback.

Second, so you've got this perfectly nice looking tome with its beautiful cover, its copyright page, and you've edited it to what? Whose gonna buy it and where are they gonna get it from? Back in the old days (pre-Kindle, pre-Nook, pre iPad), you couldn't exactly take delivery of your "book" and march it over to Barnes and Noble for shelving. (Does it surprise you to know things don't work that way??)

So, yeah. Distribution problems.

Which is why epublishers sprang up (especially in the romance genre) to act as clearinghouses for readers looking for ebooks. I may be going out on a limb here, but my feeling is that in the early days, an author's success hinged on either volume--lots of titles with which to build up a readership, eroticism--before NY publishers caught up to the trend, and/or uniqueness--stories NY didn't know what to do with--or all of the above.

Hence, when I sold to an epublisher in 2007, my book didn't stand much of a chance (it being the only one I had available, it being tame by the current sexuality standards, and it being your basic old-fashioned contemporary romance). Whatever. I pulled it from the publisher just three weeks after its release because I didn't like the naked covers being marketed next to it. (Not that I have anything against erotic romance--or whatever they're calling it these days--but because I didn't think my book fit well with what they were selling.)


Flash forward. This past Christmas, sales of reading devices soared through the roof and suddenly, in the ensuing months, so did ebook sales. Technology apparently rocks!

Which leads me decision to self-publish.

Because along with the new reading devices, the Internet also boasts a new group of sites that make it easy for readers to buy your books. And they've cut out the middleman (New York).

Good thing...or bad? Well, suffice to say there are lots of arguments to make on either side, but this post isn't about that.

It's about why NOW, not then.

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