Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Indy publishing for dummies, part 1- Why?

As many of my regular readers know, my first book, (and soon my second book as well) was self-published. As a writer, I often am amazed at how easy the process of getting a book out on shelves has become in my lifetime. When I was first trying to be a writer (long time ago... Think Reagan administration...) the options for an independent author trying to make his voice heard were few and costly. I would often hear tales, particularly at sci-fi conventions, about authors going through the "vanity press" process and the results of their independent forays into publishing. Invariably, they were cautionary tales of thousands of dollars spent, with only a garage full of unsold books to show for it.

Publishing independently, I had often been told, was the kiss of death to any writer's career. After all, if 'real' publishers had no interest in your work, then surely your work must in fact suck... That's why you had to pay to get your name in print, and the only reason you did that is because you're an egomaniac.

Except of course, that none of that is true. I would think that there are a good deal of fantastic writers out there that have simply never found an audience. Editors and publishers are only human, after all... And there acceptance is purely based on their own tastes. For instance, I love the works of Clive Cussler, but not many people I know do... I think his brand of adventure writing is a bit of an acquired taste. Had his first publisher not seen the potential in his writing, I may never have read any of his stuff, and that would be tragic.

A lot of times in the publishing world, brilliant work gets passed over for an easy sell. If something is hard to categorize (sci-fi comedy anyone?) or a bit odd in its bearing, it gets passed over for stuff that obviously fits in a section at the local Barnes and Noble. It's not really hard to see why this is... New writers are an unknown quantity. New writers in experimental/weird genres doubly so. Every publisher is only as good as its hottest writer. In short, hot, easily sellable writer= hot, profitable book= hot profitable publisher.

Of course, the hotness of a writer has nothing to do with their looks, because several of my fellow struggling writers would be household names by now if it did. What can I say? I hang with some very good looking people.

So, the struggling writer is left with a question. Do I toil away in obscurity, Banging my head against publishers doors until I burst through like Jack Nicholson in 'the Shining', or do I put my work out there and try to sell it myself?

For me, the choice was obvious... I have known for a long time that being a writer won't make me rich, but a story untold strikes me as a very tragic thing. After trying halfheartedly to get my first novel published, I made an investment in myself and self published. It was the second smartest thing I ever did, right behind marrying Cheri.

The fact is that self publishing has never been easier, or a better way for an independent author to be heard. This is largely due to the way technology is changing how we read. The biggest risk you face in the endeavor is to your own ego.

I am currently working on bringing my next book to market, and over the next few weeks, I'll detail the ups and downs involved for those that are curious about such things. I hope y'all will find it entertaining, at least... And if the next book crashes and burns, there should be some really awesome dark comedy there somewhere.

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