Thursday, July 7, 2011

Self-Publishing

So, I wrote this book...

As writers, I believe it's safe to say we all agree on one thing: Most of us want to be published by a real, bona fide & certified publishing house. To be recognized and taken on by an editor and/or agent team who says, "Hey! We can sell this!" And, therefore, proceeds to throw all their big-buck NYC funds into our project. A great cover, perhaps even a stepback with people who really portray our characters well, a marketing plan, bookmarks, tote bags, t-shirts, big signing appointments at Barnes & Nobles all over the country, movie contracts...the list goes on and on.

But what happens when you've spent years without success? What happens when the most common rejection you receive these days goes something like, "loved the story, loved the characters, but we just don't have the space for it right now"? Because it's true, you know. Books are expensive to publish. And I know what you're thinking: Uh, but don't these huge publishing companies have, like, lots and lots of money? Yeah, they do. But they've got many mouths to feed, too. Think about all those things I listed in the first paragraph. Now think about how many authors write under, say, Avon. Some of whom have novels which go out first in hardback (a HUGE expense).

Can you imagine how much $$$ went into the launch of
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows??

You get the point, right? Good. Last month our local RWA (Romance Writer's of America) chapter NOLA STARs hosted its first Summer Writing Workshop. You saw me harp on and on about it (and Janet Mullany! *squee*) during the months of May and June. While we had plenty of talented authors and members of the publishing industry with great information and stories to tell, one particular tidbit stood out to me above all others. Perhaps because I, like many, many of my fellow writers, am desperately seeking publication. But the speaker--and I believe it was Deb Dixon, but my mind fails me often, so--said that NYC publishing houses are currently only giving 25% in profit to their authors.

Wow, I thought. There must be some mistake. Nonetheless, she explained that because of the economy (if all of us had a nickel for every single time we've heard that phrase over the past few years...) and overall decrease in sales on printed (paperback and/or hardback) books, the publishers have been forced to decrease their royalty rates.

Now, here's the next thing she said: E-publishers are paying up to 40% royalties.

Whoa. Big difference, right? Why is that? Well, it's obvious isn't it? While I, like most writers, still love the feel of a real book in my hands, the smell of its pages, both old and new, I must admit: I adore my Kindle. It's entirely too easy. I go to Amazon or an author's site and... CLICK! I'm conveniently reading my shiny new book within seconds. And we as a people--especially Americans--love our convenience, don't we? Just look at all the fast food chains booming like crazy. Sure, they're bad for you. Sure, they'll eventually kill your pocketbook. But we do it anyway. Because we're in a hurry, we don't want to be bothered, we... want... convenience.

Ah... Starbucks drive thru...

Hence, the big bang in the e-book industry. Now, at this point you may be saying, "Yeah, OK, Alyssia. But the title of this post is 'Self-Publishing,' so what gives?" Writers vanity publishing their novels via e-book, that's what. See! I do have a point! A couple of months back I stumbled upon Addison Moore, author of the Celestra Series. On her blog site, she advertised the first book in the series, Ethereal, for a whopping $.99. At the time I was trying to read every YA I could get my hands on, and so I immediately went to Amazon, clicked that handy Buy now with 1-Click button, and in less than 5 seconds, I was curled up at the end of my couch reading Addison's first novel.

Before all that, though, I noticed this (because by now we're all in the habit of looking at the publishing house on the spine of the book, right?): Sold by: Amazon Digital Services. (Click the link to learn all about Kindle Direct Publishing services on Amazon.com.)

Whoa. You mean... she self-published this book? This wonderful story? Instantly, my mind began this mad race of possibilities--which, may I say, gets faster and faster the more self-published books I come across. Recently I found this one, too: Morgan Karpiel's Fantasies of New Europa Series. Historical/Steampunk novellas with beautiful, 3-dimensional characters, gorgeous exposition, witty dialogue, and, most importantly, believable plots. And again... $.99 a piece. I read the first one, bought the next two in one fell swoop. AND, as I mentioned in my review of The Inventor, I'm a Morgan Karpiel fan for life.

Loved it!

Now, listen. YES, I've stumbled upon a few self-pubbed who were... well. They need some serious guidance and a lot more practice at their craft before even thinking about putting their work out there, in the world. But some are REALLY good. I mean, really. So, this is what I want to ask all of you...

Have YOU thought about self-publication? If so, what do you make of this whole thing with the big publishing houses & e-book publishers versus self-pubbing? Do you, like me, ever wonder if maybe, just maybe you self-publish that first book, it'll give you a sort of... I don't know... kick start? Are you ALREADY self-published, and have some words of wisdom to share?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,
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7 comments

BREA said...

If I can't get picked up by the end of the year I am self publishing. Yes it would be great to hit the big time but for me in the end it comes down to...I just want people to read my stuff.

A. It helps create my name
B. People can afford it more
C. Digital is convenience (huge)
D. You never know who is scouting those digital downloads!

I am taking a workshop on digital publishing at my conference this year and I am actually pretty excited about it.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I am all ears (and eyes, of course) on the publishing industry right now, and which way I want to go, or if there's some great way to split it. This is an exciting time in publishing, but also a scary one when you're just getting ready to dip a toe in. I just don't know!! Great post! It fits right in there with the things I'm trying to figure out.

Lynda R Young said...

My hubby won't let me self-pub... yet. Oh and in Australia we only get 10% youchies.

Megg Jensen said...

I chose self-publishing in December of 2010 after a slew of agents rejected two of my novels. Why? The market - it wasn't my work. One even offered to rep me if I switched genres. That's the moment I truly believed my writing might be something special.

In February my first novel debuted and I couldn't be happier. I am publishing it myself, though, with a 70% profit (not going through a publishing company for 40%).

As a former journalist and obsessive hard worker, I'd like to think my novels are well-written. Not one of my novels has gone to publication without at least five full drafts, beta readers, and proofreaders.

I don't think it's an either-or choice anymore. Writers can do a combination of self-pub and traditional pub. I'm not against ever publishing traditionally - I might give it a whirl again in the future. But for now, I'm thrilled with the choice I've made.

Good luck to everyone!!! :)

Megg Jensen

Lela said...

I have a friend who has self-published a book. I haven't heard her say a bad thing about the experience yet. She is, however, responsible for everything, and I mean EVERYTHING regarding the promotion of her work. I like the idea - I think I need more research before I can say I would or wouldn't.

I loved the e-publishing workshop at the conference. I just wonder if the 40% they pay versus the 25% versus traditional publishing all evens out in the end. If an ebook is cheaper, that 40% ends up being about the same amount of money as if you got 25% of higher-priced print books... Just something I wonder about. At this particular juncture, I think I would e-pub before I would self-pub.

Alyssia said...

@Brea That you know exactly what you want out of your writing is wonderful. You'd be surprised how many writers actually don't. Oh, and digital publishing workshops are great! I hope you like it!

@Shannon It really is scary at times, for certain. But I feel like we've got so many more choices at our disposal now, and that's a wonderful thing. Glad you liked the post!

@Lynda LOL--Your hubby sounds like mine, Lynda! And wow! I guess we shouldn't complain about our 25, then, right?

@Megg I am so thankful you shared your experience on self-publishing with us. I will definitely put these two YA's on my Kindle reading list. Best of luck to you, too!

@Lela That is one thing the presenters of the ebook workshop pointed out last June. You have to do everything. So, if you don't have the time and energy to put into promoting your self-pubbed book, well... maybe this isn't the right path for you. And I really like the e-pubbing concept, too, Lee. Like I said, it's SO easy to punch that little Buy Now with 1-Click button on Amazon. Especially when you can find those $.99 deals!

Rebecca Bany said...

I use self publishing. So far it's been good to me.
I really enjoyed this post. Thanks.
www.rebeccabany.com

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