I post regularly over at sffworld.com and here is a post that some might find of interest. It’s most of the reasoning behind why I went self-published vs traditional published. The main thread is here.
My two cents:
I decided to go the Indie (self-pub, whatever you want to call it) route. I’ve been writing since the 90s, been submitting stories and books since 1999. Been on these forums for quite some time. I’ve developed quite a thick skin. Over those years I’ve written over 100 shot stories (most of them are terrible) and 14 novels (a few of those suck and a couple have been completely rewritten). I’ve submitted to publishers and agents both big and small both via snail mail and email. I’ve collected a large number of rejection letters (all of them form letters for my novels). I’ve even attended conferences and had one publisher that said pull me aside for a personal conversation and had me pitch him my novels and asked me to send them along. After more than a year with no response, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands.
First of all I’ve been watching the self-pub movement for quite a long time. I’ve watched the vanity presses suck in authors with hopes and dreams and watched people get taken. I’ve watched people toss their one book they spent 15 years writing and re-writing and watched them fail because no one bought their one book. I’ve watched podcasters skyrocket to stardom (Scott Sigler, Mur Lafferty, Nathan Lowell, Tee Morris, Philipa Ballantine) and a couple do very well being persistent and release multiple podcast novels to coincide with their novel releases (both traditionally and self-published), and others release one novel, release a book, and wonder why it failed. I’ve watched J.A. Konrath and read all his blogs. I’ve watched Dead Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathrine Rush, Michael Stackpole, Amanda Hocking, and many others go the self-pub route and have great success, but I’ve also watched a LOT of other smaller name authors have a level of success that has allowed them to quit their day jobs and write full time pulling in a nice annual income with many titles.
What I’ve seen is those that can produce a large volume of work reap the rewards. Those with one or two titles generally fail because they don’t see immediate success and throw up their hands and give up. This isn’t a game of throw your book out there and you’re guaranteed success. You can’t force people to your book in 6 months and expect it to be a hit. That just doesn’t happen. All of the people I know that have made it spent years working hard to improve their craft and wrote a lot of books. Amanda Hocking release 9 books her first year and did so in a hot genre that helped her gain popularity. J.A. Konrath acquired his backlist and got better editing, better covers, and re-released them all. Same with others I mentioned. They fought for their backlist, got it, and put it out there. People couldn’t find their backlist due to publishers not giving these authors priority. They’re a rare handful.
As for me, I’ve done a couple podcast novels, but due to life happening I stopped. I had released one novel myself, but again, life happened and I stopped. This year will be different as I never stopped writing. I have a backlog of 14 novels and several in process of being written and/or plotted out. A couple of my older books I will be re-writting because I know I can make them better. I have a great and inexpensive cover artist. I have three friends that all proof read my work (one is a technical writer with a background in editing, another went to school for editing because when she retires she wants to be an editor, the other is just good at picking my stories apart for content). It’s taken me many many years to reach the point where I’ ready to get my stories out into the world. I also have a backlist of my own stories that I’ve had edited, I just need covers, book layout, and I can get these books out the door and into readers hands. I’ve spent nearly a decade watching the market, the self-pub movement, and keeping an eye on what’s worked and what hasn’t.
I didn’t come to this decision lightly. I would love to have a standard publishing contract from a major house, but I’m not getting any younger and I’m frankly tired of waiting and submitting and waiting and being rejected. I haven’t been idle and I know it’ll take a long time to gain readers. Going this route, for me, won’t mean overnight success. It might take me another five or ten years to gain an audience, but I need to keep at it and keep trying. Getting my books out there, going to cons, doing interviews on podcasts or where ever I can, and doing blog tours, anything to get my name out there. I also need to keep a steady stream of books flowing out. I need good covers. I need good editing. I need to be patient.
If you’re wondering, I currently have 5 titles out (2 middle grade, 1 collection of short stories, and 2 novels). I currently sell about one book every other day. That’s since the start of this year. I’ll be releasing two more books next week (1 middle grade in the same series, 1 sci-fi thriller novel). I’ll be releasing another novel next month. I’ll be re-releasing my first self-pubbed book with better editing the month after that. I’ll be releasing at least one novel per month for the rest of this year. If I’m lucky, I hope to sell a book a day by the end of the year). I’ve got next year planned out and I’m writing books to release next year, this year. I’ve got 10 years worth of books planned out and I have no real intention of stopping. I’ve got many more ideas than I can write in a short period of time and I am a fast writer. Last year I wrote 490,000 words. This year I’ve written 100,000 thus far and I’m shooting for 365,000 as a good goal given my release schedule. I’ve got a spreadsheet to track my progress. I’ve got friends pushing me to stay on track. I’ve communicated with my family my goals for the coming years.
Even with all of this in place, I still might fail. That’s a very real possibility. But if I don’t get books out there and try, I’ll fail before I start. I can’t have that. I have to give it a try.
So what am I getting at with all of this? Don’t just jump into self publishing without being aware of what you’re getting into . Don’t think this is a road to riches. If you’ve got one book, I would recommend rethinking and keep trying to get that book through a traditional publisher. Write another book, and another, and another while you wait. If you’ve built up a number of books and you’re still not getting anywhere with traditional publishing, then consider self publishing. Understand that you’ll need to learn cover design, you’ll have to learn scheduling, you’ll have to learn book layout, you’ll have to build your blog and your website, you’ll have to learn all the distribution outlets for your book and ebook, you’ll have to learn all those systems for getting your books into the hands of readers. Yes, you could take your word doc and throw it up on kindle tomorrow, but ask yourself what you’re hoping to get out of it? You’ll only get out what you put in and there is so much to learn.
I said a lot more than I intended. Wow! I’m sure I could say a lot more, but suffice to say, do your homework before making the jump. Don’t just jump and hope. Hope doesn’t sell books.
It’s been calm, smooth sailing around here lately. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
I’m just over half-way through My Teacher is a Vampire (it’ll weigh in around 20,000 words when I’m done). Hopefully all subsequent books will weigh in between 20,000-30,000. These are middle-grade/YA books and I want to keep them short for those with short attention spans. I’ve got big plans for this series and I’m having fun with it. I would like to write 3 of these a year and give the series time to grow that I know it’ll need.
Oh! And I’m doing a Goodreads Giveaway! My Teacher is a Zombie GoodReads Giveaway! If you’ve got Facebook, you’ve got GoodReads. Check it out, sign up to get a copy.
That being said, I’m also doing a giveaway for V&A Shipping on GoodReads as well! Check this one out also.
Lastly, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m done with V&A Shipping II. One thing I’m looking for, if you enjoyed reading (or listening to) V&A Shipping and want to read V&A Shipping II before anyone else, head on over to Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes and Nobel, Smashwords, or anywhere you find the title and leave me a review! Send me a link to your review (twitter me, facebook me, email me, tape it to a rock and throw it through my window) and I’ll add you to a list. Once I’ve got the book through rewrites and edits, I’ll send you an advanced ecopy so you can laugh at all your friends that will have to wait until it’s out. This will be at least a month before it goes on sale later this year.
So that’s the news type stuff. A lot of personal things went on over the weekend and will likely keep going on this week. I will still try to hit my word count, but when a friend needs you, everything else is secondary. Words will happen when words happen. That’s all I have to say about that.
Speaking of words, even with all that’s going on, I’m still playing catch up on my annual word goal. Currently I’m 17,000 words behind schedule and slowly, ever so slowly, getting caught up. My Lent goal is 2000 words a day and with the bumps I’ve hit, I’m currently 4700 words behind on that goal and trying to catch that one as well. For those keeping score at home, that’s nearly 79% of the goal I set. I’m not too bad off, but I don’t want to let that number slip. I want to hit this goal this year and at the very least beat last year’s word count (I was off by 19115 words or 78.28% of my goal). I think I can do this as I’m in a better position this year and much more focused than I was at the start of last year. Of course losing the first month of the year put me at a disadvantage, but I know over all I’ll be able to get to my goal. Focus and dedication.
In reading news, I’ve signed up for a number of GoodReads giveaways and started rating a lot of books I’ve read over the years. I also picked up the Bundle of Holding (Thank you Mur!). There’s some great books on this list and part of your purchase goes to charity. So why not?
I’ll be heading over to http://stormwolf.com (author site for Mike Stackpole) and picking up his latest self-published work. He’s been an inspiration for me to self-publish my own works.
Finally Nathan Lowell is re-releasing his Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series as self published works. I want to pick these up not because I don’t own them already, but because I really want to see Nathan Succeed. He’s got a number of sites, but this one should get you to everywhere you want to go.
So many words, so little time. There are a LOT of books I’ve bought that I’d love to read, but there are only so many hours in the day and I need to spend time watching videos of cats doing stupid things or demolition gone wrong. Speaking of which, I’m late on getting over to watch a video about dogs chasing their tails.
Until Next Week!
Yesterday was a good day. For me.
Let me start with the bad news just to get it out of my head.
A friend of my wife’s (and co-worker) had her son disappear. At this point they’re not sure if he ran away or was kidnapped. He was on his way home from school yesterday and was last seen at a local park. If you’re local to San Diego/Chula Vista and would like more information, e-mail me and I’ll send you what information I have. It has the wife very shaken up.
On to the happier news.
My favorite daughter and I practiced volleyball for about an hour and a half yesterday and my arm is a little stiff this morning. I plan on getting her a jump rope today and we’ll be jump roping 15-20 minutes a day to help with her jumping. She needs to improve her vertical leap and another one of the player’s moms told me jumping rope will help. She has practice today and tomorrow so I think my arm will be getting a little rest. That kid is keeping the wife and I hopping.
On the writing front. I got a lengthy update post yesterday (you read that? It was kinda long). I also wrote a guest post for my cover artist Dan Dan the Art Man about my TV experience. That was a fun write. Beyond that I also got a good chunk of My Teacher is a Zombie written. Yesterday saw over 3000 words get written. I’ll be doing some writing in the little spots I find here and there over the weekend. That’s what I did yesterday.
Usually I fill these little snippets of time with getting caught up on reading blogs, playing angry birds, or playing around on twitter. It’s easy to say “I don’t have enough time to really get going” but I’ve discovered that even if I have a few minutes I can bash out a hundred words here or two hundred words there. I may not always do this, but two things are driving me. 1) I’m behind on my annual word count and I don’t want to get further behind and 2) I’m at an exciting part in the story I’m writing. Another thing that’s driving me at this point is the fact that I’ve made commitments to other people for work and I need to finish one before moving on to another. So far it’s fun being driven and pushing myself more than I ever have.
Will I suffer from burnout? If I do, then I don’t think I have the chops to be a full time writer. Even writing part time shouldn’t be as much of a pain as I’m making it. I’m just not taking full advantage of the time I have available. I know I can do better. Even though I wrote 3000 words yesterday, I still don’t feel I’m putting out as much as I can. I still feel like I’m not moving quickly enough.
I had a conversation with someone earlier in the week. As I put it, it’s like working out. You need to walk before you can run. When I started working out I was walking too quickly, then jogging too soon and I injured myself. I know I need to start walking about, but one thing I also noticed was that my word could was up and down but on a general upward trend. I was writting a little more over time. So I’m not going to go out on a limb and say I’ll be writing at Nathan Lowell levels any time soon, but as long as I’m steady and consistent I’ll be able to get a lot of work done this year.
Speaking of getting a lot of work done…