One of the many questions I pondered during my blogging hiatus was how to pursue publishing my work. Last year, I was determined to create my own press and self-publish my work. However, a few less-than-rave reviews about my book made me reconsider, and I pulled the project entirely (well, postponed it for six months).
I dropped all of my plans to start my own press, and I decided that I would go the more traditional route and seek out representation and work through an agency. But then I began to doubt that decision as well, and when I started my blogging break, I initiated some deeper-than-usual soul searching about my career, my writing, and how to publish my polished works.
I’m not going to pretend that I have the answers to those questions, even now. It’s a difficult decision for me to make.
The self-publishing route places me in full control of what I write, how, when, and where I publish it, and how I market it. The agent-seeking route strips me of all of those things (with the exception of the marketing aspect, which falls more on the author’s shoulders than ever before).
On the other hand, there’s still the stereotype attached to self-publishers. To some, they’re seen as auxiliary cops who couldn’t cut the academy, or volunteer firefighters who couldn’t get through the rigorous EMT training. Both of these stereotypes are just that–false conclusions about individuals who have chosen to put their lives on the line for us, every time they put on a uniform.
I’m not saying that self-published authors are exactly putting the bad guys behind bars or extinguishing 3-alarm blazes, but we’re authors who know the other side of the business. Know the layout and design elements of what makes a good book, know the ins and outs of marketing, and have confidence in our writing that it will hold its own against any book that might be represented by a million-dollar agent from William Morris. Self-publishers enjoy what they do, and they focus more on getting the work out to the larger public than trying to secure the best financial deal (that is, if you even get that far; in today’s market, it’s harder than ever to break in).
Self-publishers also give back to their communities and support a local network of writers and readers. They also support the locally owned coffee houses, used book stores, and bars by holding public readings and discussions. They publish the works of other local talents.
In short, they give their communities a mega b-12 shot to their culture. They don’t get hung up on the bigger deal that may never come. Instead, they’re out there publishing, reading, writing, sharing, helping other writers, promoting discussions and book groups that might never have formed.
I guess you can tell which way I’m leaning. The start-up costs to establish the press as an LLC are minimal (under $1,000), though the first book launch will probably cost twice that amount.
But who cares. If I’m going to get this career moving on all cylinders within 2 years, I’ve got to keep working at the pace I’ve gotten used to. This is what I’ve always wanted to do, so there’s no looking back from here.
Self-publishing, here I come!