My foray into self-publishing

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I’ve gotten asked…a lot…on why I decided to go it alone with Beg Me.

I’ve posted it before, but here ya go…  😉

  • I was curious. I only had one story out there and it was a story that had been released before.  It was also not a long story.  Basically, not the ideal ‘experiment’.
  • I had an idea for a book that I really wanted to write, and if I’d sent it to Samhain, it would have been a year before I could have gotten into the hands of readers–my publication schedule at Samhain got thrown off and I don’t feel like waiting a year.  This way–I didn’t have to, you didn’t have to.
  • I was at a point to where I needed to have a little more control over things.  Despite what a lot of people outside publishing think-and even those who seem to think they have insider knowledge, writers don’t have all that much control.  Generally, I’m good with this–giving up control isn’t my favorite thing, but giving up that control also means I have somebody who is helping me with promo, marketing, covers, editing, etc.  But over the past few months, there was just too much that was out of my control.  So I decided, this time…I’d control things.  Everything about the story.

That’s pretty much it.

There’s not really a big secret, no big drama, no big fiasco.  I don’t plan abandoning the publishing world for the self-publishing world.  Self-publishing is a lot of work.

Now you’ve got people out there who will tell you that it’s the way to riches…they’ll tell you that’s the best thing to ever happen to a writer.  And I imagine there isn’t always complete disclosure, either. Perhaps in terms of all the time spent doing promotion.  Perhaps in terms of the money that is spent up front.

Money spent up front?  On digital self pub?

What?

Um.  Yes.  If you want a professional product, you need to be willing to spend money.

Where?

Well, sometimes on promo and other various expenses, like research, etc.

And I’d say always on covers and on edits….

Because most writers don’t make great editors.  If you’ve got a self-published book that appears to be professionally edited but they didn’t hire a freelance editor, either that writer is one of the select few who can edit, or I’d have to wonder if other arrangements were made and they just aren’t discussing them. (And if that’s the case, is it really self-published?  Or is it just masquerading as self-published…???)

People…again…in general, writers just don’t make good editors.  We don’t.  So if they want a decent product out there, the smart ones are going to hire a freelance editor.

I used not one editor, but two.

Jen B, who charged $.005 a word.

  • 34,879 words @ $.005/wd = $174.40

Then there was Elle C, also know as Limecello, who did editorial work and consulting, for a flat fee of $50.

There was also a professionally rendered cover.  You want to go the self-pubbed route and have a chance at really doing well?  Unless you really know what you’re doing?  And by really knowing what you’re doing, I mean trained in the field, don’t do the cover yourself.  Go to a pro.

I went to Angela Waters, of Angela Waters Art.  Her standard fee for cover art is $150, and that can go up depending on the stockart used. But you want a professional cover, because that cover will grab the eye and it will also make or break you as far as things like the premium catalog goes with places like Smashwords.  Crappy, do-it-yourself covers don’t make it into that premium catalog at Smashwords as easy and that premium catalog gets the books out to the Nook, Apples iBookstore, the Sony store, Kobo, etc…all without me doing anything but placing it on Smashwords.

I’ve spent about $350 on this book in all.  I’ve already made more than I’ve spent so hey, I’m cool.  It’s not a lot more.  But I’m not greedy.  I’ve actually already sold about as many on Smashwords & Kindle as I would have sold in the first few days on Samhain, I suspect, and I’m pocketing more of the profit.

One downfall is that if I do go to print with the book, and I don’t know if I will, I won’t be able to hit as big of a market, because there just isn’t one for selfpublished works and I’m not investing the time in it.  I’m sorry, but I’m not.  Readers who want it in print, if I decide to try it, will have to be willing to order it from wherever I’m able to do it, which will probably someplace like Lulu.

Why?  Well, for one, I’m not investing the money it takes to do the selfpublishing thing-that can be anywhere from a couple of hundred, right up to the sky.  And if that’s not reason enough…um, well, that’s going to have to be.  I hope you understand.

Another downfall…I’m not making out like the bandit some people will try to make it out like.  I won’t get rich this way.  Granted, digital publishing and traditional publishing haven’t made me rich, either.

I can’t go into details about many I’ve sold…well, I could, but I won’t.  There’s nothing, though, that will prevent me from doing this again at this point.

I liked that I could do it at my pace and not worry about anybody’s schedule but mine.

I liked that I could do it and control everything-the cover, the blurb, the price, etc.

I do want to warn newbies, though…one of the main reasons I was probably able to make money…I’ve been doing this since 2003.  I’ve built a reader base, I’ve got some contacts who were willing to post advance reviews and help me generate some pre-release promo.  I’ve also got a newsletter mailing list that I’ll be hitting next week-I’ve got the contacts for editing/consults/cover art, etc.

If I hadn’t had all of those things…I wouldn’t have done quite so well, I don’t think.  Digital self-publishing is great if you just want to get the story out there in case somebody is interested.  But if you’re really looking to make money?  Then you’re not going to stand as much of a chance unless you’ve already built a platform, IMO.  That platform is essential.

UTA: Another downer… getting the books out to other venues is slow.  I know I could speed it up by doing it myself, but as I’m working this in around all my other projects, that’s time I really don’t have-so just letting it go through Smashwords, while slower, works best because it doesn’t time time away from the books I’ve got to get done-deadlines and all.

And a clarification…all of this is in regards to true self publishing.  None of the vanity crap where you have to pay bunches of bucks-a real, serious freelance editor isn’t going to charge you an arm and a leg. You can find awesome cover art for less than the cost of your right kidney.  Don’t buy into all the ‘stars in your eyes’ crap you’ll see on the vanity press sites & ‘assisted self publishing’ sites.