A few months ago, I sweetly ranted about how my dream was to be a traditionally published author. I had been through a year of writing and rewriting, submitting, rejections, and resubmitting; I was disheartened and a wee bit disenchanted, but I was determined to do this thing the “right” way, and to not “give up” and “settle” for any less than the full package deal—agent, publisher, advance, hardcover books in fifty languages, t-shirts, posters, and Lionsgate putting my clipped-winged baby on the silver screen. It was coming, I felt it. Nothing was going to stand in my way. I was prepared for the blood, sweat, and tears that were waiting for me ahead, as I continued to send submission after submission and continued to receive rejection after rejection.
Now, I admit, I rushed those submissions. Over time, those of us writers who take a good honest look at hindsight, see our progress or where we can improve. If we are open to constructive criticism, and don’t close our minds to the possibility of improvement, we’ll always look back and see where we could have done certain things better. I’m positive that if I were to submit the novel I am revising now, that I’d have a much better chance of landing an agent. Over the past year and a half since I began writing YA novels, I have grown tremendously as a writer–and a person, mother, friend, and human being in general.
Writing fiction, for me, is a spiritual experience. Even writing YA Dystopian/Sci-fi/Horror, which is what my novel, The Tree Makers, is, I find that more pieces of me than I may care to admit wind up building the framework of the book. My life experiences, my beliefs, my fears, my desires, my dreams, hopes, aspirations, are all delicately and secretly interwoven into my fiction, like the marrow giving life to its bones. To me, the writing of fiction, when fully immersed in it and letting it flow through you, is a sacred experience, one that only other fiction writers could truly understand. But the readers feel it, even if they don’t know what to call it. When they are experiencing the story, engulfed by it, they are experiencing and engulfed by, you.
So, what’s the point? What does this have to do with my decision to go indie?
The point is that it’s not about the advance, the big NY agent or publisher, the t-shirts and the silverscreen with Johnny Depp playing one of my characters . . . . It’s about the story. And it’s about getting the story to readers. It’s about taking a step back from the limelight of my mind’s eye and realizing it isn’t about the money at all. Don’t get me wrong, a six-figure deal would be freaking AMAZING, but while I’m spending all of this time and effort hunting down the agent with this magical key to my NYT bestselling success, I could be writing. And did I mention the disheartening disenchantment? Yeah. Not something I really want–or need–in my daily life.
Let’s talk specifics.
IF/WHEN I were to finally land an agent, and IF/WHEN they got a big NY publisher to say YES, right there, I’m out anywhere from 60-80% of my royalties. Granted, if you do really well you can still make big bucks, especially since they assist with big marketing and getting you on the shelves at B&N, but you won’t be seeing your baby in print for one to two years later, and even then, it really won’t be your baby anymore. It will be their baby. They will have final say in what goes on the cover, and ultimately, what gets cut or added inside as well. And once your book is in print, you really won’t be immediately connected with sales knowledge and readership. Figures, along with slim royalties, will be given to you six months or longer after the fact, not really allowing you to keep a real-time perspective on book sales and so forth. Sure, with traditional publishing you’ll have slightly more help with the marketing aspect; book signings, speaking engagements, and so on, but from what I’ve heard, you will still need to put in a good amount of your time into marketing as well.
With self-publishing through Amazon KDP, Create Space, Smashwords, etc., not only do I see the majority of my royalties, but I also get to do what I want when I want and how I want to do it. My baby stays my baby. Yes, I know the stigma on self-publishing. There are a lot of works that should’ve had a little more TLC (and revision) before they were carelessly and impatiently spewed into the market. That will not be my book, just as it is not the book of a growing number of fabulous authors who choose to self-publish. There are those of us who’ll be damned before we put junk out there. We put in the time, get beta readers, revise and rewrite, hire a good editor, and make sure we are putting the best book we can into the hands of readers.
Self-publishing is becoming more and more the way to go for many authors. Without going too much into the details, (mainly because a couple hours’ Google search can get you everything you ever wanted to know and I don’t want to bore you here) I’ll say my decision to self-publish was one that wasn’t made hastily. It was a decision I made because I want to be right here at ground zero, down in the trenches, wading with my readers in the crazy muck of marketing, blogging, promoting, and everything that goes along with it. I want to be apart of what is happening with my baby every single day.
“But so much of your time will be wasted marketing,” I hear some of you say. To that I say, I will make time for what I love, and I love to write. I have chosen, for now, to guide my baby through its growth stages like a loving parent, until it reaches its final resting place; in the hands of readers. However you choose to go about getting there, that is the moment that truly counts.
Until next time, fellow writerly peeps,
Write on ❤