For many of us, we begin our lives believing that the only way to succeed will be at the hands of someone else. We are almost conditioned to think that we do not have the ability, or the skills to hold our future in our own hands. I grew up admiring publishing houses, and large Hollywood film companies, inevitably under the impression that that was always the end goal, to be loved by one of those enough that they would make me a star in my own right. This following post, I would like to clarify, is not to disregard those as options for writers, or even for myself in the future, but right now self-publishing is the way I want to go.
It is not necessarily a new thing to the industry, but self-publishing comes with more resources and invariably more success stories today than ever before. As writers, we are being given a chance to take some of the control and make sure that our intended message is clearly delivered. There are pros and cons to this, and this is why I say normal publishing houses should not be totally disregarded before a writer does a great deal of research first.
The simplest way of putting it is that the biggest Pro is having more control and the biggest Con is having more control. No, I haven’t made a mistake there, the repetition is very much intentional. The reason writers are scared, and why we have this debate with self-publishing vs independent press publishing vs conglomerate publishing is because each option comes with a different level of control. Each holds a certain level of independent agency from the writer, and some people are not naturally very good at handling it. Personally, however, I am a nerd for organising. I get a great deal of satisfaction from having completed a large challenge successfully, and most importantly, I have a message I do not want to be lost within the confines of heightened commercialism.
Often you see how books have been stripped of the story and meaning that they truly want to convey because they or the publisher is too worried that it will not sell. It is a risk, depending on the subject and the way you’re writing it, but writing isn’t writing if you sacrifice better content for more money.
If you’re asking yourself whether you should Self-Publish or not, let me tell you the story of my first book, and my plans for my second and hopefully that might help you a little…
My first book was a poetry and prose collection called Whispers to the World. It came out on the 24th August this year! I do not regret it one bit! Here’s why:
While as of yet it has not been the biggest money earner – although we’ll get into that in a minute – Whispers was always going to be a little messy, but very much an essential stage in my writing. The book is something I am proud of, it is one of the few pieces of work I can re-read and still enjoy. I tend to rip things apart as a result of perfectionism, but Whispers has some of my favourite poems in it, and it is a deeply personal piece of work. I was ready to write it, to become a better person, and a better writer after having completed it, so in many ways, it was mainly a self-serving project. I needed to write it, but I also wanted other people to read the intensity, and emotion in such a personal book in order to spread that same idea of cathartic healing. So far, those that have read it have loved it, and have been so so kind with their words and compliments.
Going into this I was so focused on the design and the content that I lost a little bit of the regard to the marketing, and so I took the whole better-content-over-money thing a little too seriously. I have sold books, but naturally, it would be great to sell more, and the initial foray into self-publishing has really helped to assess where I can improve for my next book, and what I can do to help more people find Whispers to the World as well.
So, having said that, let’s talk about my next book currently titled either No More Questions or After You Fall (very much working titles and subject to change). It is a fantasy/speculative fiction novel about a twenty-something cynic called Hunter Robinson who, after a late night drive, wanders upon an eccentric cottage and its illuminious forest. Lead by a girl in a tweed suit he soon is forced to forget everything he knew about life and reality before, and maybe even his cynicism.
I am unbelievably excited to finish writing this book, and to get a cover design, to produce it again, and to put it out into the world. I have been planning it over the last 5 years, and it has gone through several reincarnations to get to this point, where I feel 100% confident that it’s going to be something really great. I am starting my marketing earlier, defining a better press package, clearly outlining my marketing strategy and more than anything making sure this book holds true to my voice and to my audiences preferences.
I hope you’ll all flock to Amazon when it comes out next summer, and in the meantime, if you’re thinking about self-publishing but are unsure, do your research, be confident, and divorce yourself from fear.
“You are a start-up … The next great business is you.” – Hugh Howey