Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On Self- Publishing.

Like a great many of the un-initiated, I too went with Publish America for my first book. At first, I was elated that a so called traditional, royalty paying publisher wanted to publish my book, but when I held the finished product in my hand, I was horrified.No editing, was the worst of what I saw. As a new writer, I had no idea about editing. I figured that if the spelling was correct, then the manuscript was good to go.It wasn’t until after I had signed the contract, that I discovered a world of information online in the form of writing and critiquing groups. Trust me, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but a lot of knowledge is priceless.After my first novel was released, and I discovered that the marketing and promotion of it fell to me, I made the decision NOT to promote it. PA was not going to make money off of me. I was ashamed of my book. NOT the story, but the rest of it. The POV, the tenses, the editing or lack thereof. The story is unique, one of a kind, and of that I was particularly proud. But, even that pride was overshadowed by the stigma that attached itself to my book. It was POD.Now just why a technology should cause such an uproar, is beyond me. It really is a wonderful tool and one those big guns need to start utilizing. It will save them thousands of dollars in warehousing fees for those unsaleable bios and memoirs they insist on publishing.But, I’m getting off track here.For my second novel, I refused to allow PA to touch it. I shopped it around, and landed an agent. She was a good agent, but patience has never been one of my virtues, so waiting for her to find a publisher just didn’t work for me. But, more that was the notion that when she did find one, it could be anywhere from eighteen months to three years before my book hit the stores. As I said, patience is not a virtue for me.So, I chose to release my agent from her contract and go with self-publishing. Most folks think that term is a death knell, but is it really?My book is available through Ingrams, as well as Baker and Taylor. Any book store in the world can order it, if they so choose. I have control over the discount I give to booksellers, I have control over the price of the book and I own the rights to it. Unlike PA’s seven year contract, where they hold all rights to the book, with self-publishing I can pull my book from them at any time. If I happen to get a movie deal out of the book, all of the profits are mine. I don’t have to give the publisher fifty percent.The quality of a self published book has improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years, and there are some, like Star Publishing that actually screen the manuscripts sent to them. If a book isn’t quality, then they won’t accept it, regardless of the fact that they charge the author for publishing. And why? Because they and a couple of other subsidy publishers are trying to erase the stigma of self published books.In due time, it will become as hard to get a manuscript accepted by a subsidy press as it is a traditional publisher, and the stigma will be erased.As a new writer, at least in the published sense, I am still learning. My first book, “What the Heart Wants” is a good book, with a unique storyline and likeable characters. The fact that it is my first almost excuses the mistakes I made in it. My second book, “Dark Ridge” is far and above a better book. Good, strong characters, a good storyline, better written. Between the two, I have had about a dozen short stories accepted for publiscation in anthologies, and magazines. I’ve even been paid for a couple of them. So, I am growing as a writer, and even developing a fan base, albeit a small one. But, in all things, one must crawl before one can walk.I think the self published route was a good fit for my second book. I don’t regret my choice to do it. Because, for one, it is already available, and when my next book, the sequel to Dark Ridge is finished, people will hopefully be acquainted with the characters and will look forward to its release.The way the major houses operate these days, afraid to take a chance, afraid to step into the 21st century, they are missing out on some terrific writers and some wonderful books. But, their loss is the small presses and the subsidy publishers gain.


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