Thoughts on Self-publishing, and ROW80 and NaNo Updates

Contest end! I know I said I'd wait till the WRiTE CLUB finals before announcing the winner, but the Show me the Words! Contest has been running since June and I decided to end it during Virtual Surrey, just in time to find prizes at the McGill University Book Fair (which was about to be cancelled before hundreds more volunteers stepped up). You can see the most recent contest entries over at the Forum. Winners will be announced in that thread this week!

ROW80 has been progressing much better. I'm almost finished typing up Druid's Moon, and I've a title for my NaNoWriMo project: Captive of the Sea Meanwhile, following on from Virtual Surrey workshops by Talli Roland and Kait Nolan (thank you both!), I'm reposting my self-publishing blog post from two years ago:

Before the Internet (remember those years?) self-publishing was a murky, expensive exercise. You sent the MS of your beloved book to a company by mail, they bound and printed it and you paid for every copy then turned around and tried to sell it or push it on family and friends.

At least, that's how I think it used to be.

I never paid much attention to it before; the few books I've read that were self-published back in the day were very badly edited and had plots and story lines that went nowhere. Let's not even get into historical fallacies...

Post-internet, self-publishing is a different dimension altogether. Writers now have not only many more options for the formats of their books, but since information on the publishing process itself, not to mention editing and marketing, is so widely available, there is no longer the easy excuse of "I didn't know about that!" for putting out a badly written, unedited book. As Kait Nolan explains, formatting and editing are NOT hard and must be done.

Many authors who market their own work want to be sure they're putting out the best possible story they can, and work hard to build online platforms and polish their work prior to publication.

They might even hire an outside editor, such as India Drummond (shameless plug).

The issue still stands though: Are readers likely to choose self-published books by authors they don't know? And does traditional publishing give you more of a platform for attracting readers?

I find genre and format are very important considerations. To put it bluntly, I write MG and YA; I doubt I could market such books entirely on my own. If my latest wip turns into straight romance and loses most of the YA elements when I reach the editing stage, I might consider an online publisher that also offers print options; marketing romance would be vastly different. To put it bluntly, I think I could handle an RWA conference much more easily than addressing a group of kids at a school. But those are my shortcomings, and only relate to self-publishing on my terms.

For others, self-publishing - or indie - is the best choice available, for many reasonsAnd many more.

And reading all those reasons why others have chosen the indie route, I'm thinking I don't have many excuses left for not looking into self-publishing.

Except that the current wip isn't finished and the completed novel needs more beta reads :-)
Two years on, I do have not just one but two and a half (if you count Druid's Moon and Captive of the Sea as the half) romance novels. I'm inching that much closer to considering self-publishing, especially after reading two of Barbara Rogan's recent posts, What if J. K. Rowling Had Self-published? and Have red pencil; will travel?

Note semi-colon use. We had a Virtual Surrey grammar thread too!

Nothing to do with anything, but I recently read the cutest kids' book: Elephant and Piggie in We Are In A Book! by Mo Willems:

Happy week-before-NaNo everyone!


I LOVE the Elephant and Piggie books. My eight-year-old cracks me up whenever she reads them to me. I love the voices she gives the characters.

I'm currently reading a lot of new adult and YA self-published books. I'm finding them through word of mouth.
Sarah McCabe said…
I think that the large number of indie success stories proves that there is definitely a nice percentage of readers who are open to self published books. The thing with self publishing is that since you can get a much larger percentage of the profits from your books, you don't need to sell as many to support yourself as you would if you were traditionally published. And the common assumption that you have to spend a lot of time marketing your work is false. (Though as a side note, you'd most likely be doing all your own marketing with a traditional deal anyway.) The best thing you can do to promote your work is simply putting out lots of new work as regularly as you can.
Zan Marie said…
"I just want to be read." Sigh. That's the truth. ; )
Anonymous said…
Thanks for sharing that article, Deniz. I have to disagree with the writer, however. I think Harry Potter would have been one of those books that rose to the top regardless of the publisher. It was word-of-mouth among school children that sold Harry Potter, not the publisher (who only paid JK Rowling $1500 for the story). I say this because JK Rowling said it herself, "Children are a writer's best friend."

My first self-published book, The Lie That Binds, gained momentum because children were talking about it--telling their teachers, "We've got to read this book for class." Children don't care who published the book, nor do they care about character arcs, plot points, showing versus telling, etc. They just want to be entertained.

So, yeah, I think Harry Potter would have succeeded even if Rowling had self-published it. ...sorry for the super long comment. :(
E.J. Wesley said…
My general reply: What are you waiting for? :-D

Seriously, if you're dedicated to the craft, and willing to put in the work to create a good product, self-publishing is a great option to get your work out there. As you said, just do it the right way.
S.P. Bowers said…
I'll have to check out the elephant and pig books.

I'm not in a place to consider self publishing right now. I won't say never but it's not right at this point in time. Hope you can find your path.
I like your titles! I'd be willing to buy and read a self-published book, if it is part of a genre that I like. I'd be even more willing if it was written by a blogger/writer that I'm already familiar with; the good thing about blogging is that it gives me a good sense of what other people's writing styles are.
Hi Deniz!

Go for it if you think it's the way for you.

I know authors who are very successful self-publishing. Doesn't matter to me - I just want to read a good book.
Vicki Tremper said…
We are huge Elephant & Piggie fans in this house, especially We Are in a Book (that may be my favorite). I just ordered a couple of these in French for work.

Good luck with NaNo! See you there... (my title is The Woods)
Liz Fichera said…
I love the title: Captive of the Sea. Intrigued!
Anonymous said…
I've come across a few poorly written and edited ones, but I've read self-pubbed books that rock.

Good luck on your projects.
nutschell said…
wow. Lots of things to think about thanks to your post. Self publishing is definitely an option I'm considering.

Talli Roland said…
Happy week before NaNo! Thank you for the shout-out... and for inviting me to take part in the conference. I believe you already know my thoughts on self-publishing. :)
Deniz Bevan said…
I tend to find a lot of my reads nowadays by word of mouth, too Stina. Also from older authors that published writers recommend.

You're right, Sarah - that's the part that scares me. As long as I have a day job, how could I ever put out new work on a regular basis?

Read and liked, too, Zan Marie...

I think you're right, Linda - Harry Potter definitely would have spread through word of mouth. And yes, children don't care who published the book! (though even in elementary school, I used to read the publisher's page of every book I read)

I know E. J.! I guess I'm just worried that I'll put out one book, and then not have next ready for about two years...

I'd like to read the others, Sara!

That's true, Neurotic, I love how we get to know each other's voices through blogging.

Thanks, Nas!

True, Alex, as a reader, I agree!

I can't find you on NaNo, Vicki!

Thank you Liz and Medeia and nutschell!

So glad you could be part of the conference, Talli :-)

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