I thought I’d take a look at self-publishing and answer the question, ‘why did you choose to independently publish your books, including your new release ‘Mindworm’?’
Self-publishing actually pre-dates the mass market book publishing industry by some centuries. Even Henry VIII self-published a volume that earned him the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ from the Pope – but then I suppose Henry had no problem getting readers!
Back before technology changed the game most authors who didn’t have ready access to a printing press and a book-binder would wind up paying for those services to get their work produced in a saleable form. Inevitably this fostered the ‘Vanity Press’ where – for large sums of money – the gullible could be told how wonderful their book was and wind up with a thousand hard back copies of unsaleable and unreadable books in their back bedrooms. The ‘Vanity Presses’ are still there – buyer beware – but technology is placing more power in the hands of the author should they choose to use it.
I chose the independent publishing route primarily because I’m only too aware that time is passing. What would be the best investment of my time? Trying to persuade a publishing house that I’d make money for them or trying to find readers who would find my stories entertaining
This, I think, points out the essential difference between me as a writer and the commercial publishing industry. I want to be read, to entertain and give readers something to think about and talk about. The industry wants to make a profit with as little risk as possible. Then I suppose I’m lucky that I make my living elsewhere.
Secondly, I wanted to keep control. Certainly control of what I write – although I’m not above listening to my team of trusted beta-readers – I don’t want to be in a position of making fundamental changes to my work to meet a publisher’s vision – with always the threat that failure to comply means the deal is off. It’s not just creative control however. I want to control my time and what I do with it – meeting deadlines and producing a prescribed follow up book is not for me. All of which doesn’t make me a good fit for the commercial publisher anyway.
Self-publishing now, though, also comes with a requirement to learn how to use the technology that’s available. Fortunately I’m a bit of a nerd like that and I found the process challenging in a good way. When the writing’s done I really enjoy the process of making a book and seeing a saleable item appear at the end of the process. It’s probably a fit because I love books as objects as well as sources of entertainment and enlightenment.
The real shock for a self-publisher comes at the end of the process. The marketing! I’m a typical Brit – keep a stiff upper lip and don’t brag about yourself. It’s taken a while to come to terms with the fact that no-one is going to bang my drum for me – it’s all down to me. And getting a book to market is a pretty special achievement. Now – I’m trying to understand the marketing process and it’s starting to be enjoyable – especially being in contact with my readers – every one of which I cherish.