Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Perks of Self-Publishing

Every week from here on out,  I will blog on my experiences whilst self-publishing. Many people have asked me why I choose to self-publish and I thought I'd answer that question first and foremost before I start talking about the process as a whole.

I love to self-publish because my work is my baby. I know a lot of people out there would tell me that even though it's my baby, that the publishing companies out there have the resources, tools and funds to promote 'my baby'. But let's be honest, whether I publish traditionally or on my own, I have to do the bulk of my marketing anyway. Authors have to promote themselves, nobody can do it for them, especially not a publishing company. Each author has to have their own platform that they built themselves, for the most part. And I would say that is probably the most challenging task of self-publishing. Incorporating yourself with social networking sites, other readers, bookstores and the web as a whole can feel a little like being tied up and forced to sit down and watch Twilight for twenty four hours straight after drinking three gallons of coffee that was spiked with harsh laxatives. In other words, it's not always a smooth ride.

As far as creating your book, it's one thing to write a manuscript. It's a pain formatting and editing it. I am not all that great at grammar, and the parts I am good at I don't care to do. I would rather sit through aforementioned Twilight fest than edit anything. That's why I have a professional editor who does that for me. They are good at what they do and they actually enjoy doing it. Formatting the manuscript is a different story though, because that's really only something that I entrust to myself to do. It is my book, and I should be the one responsible for how it looks, so I've taken the time to learn Microsoft Word so I can make my manuscript look the best it can. Cover design is a whole notha' animal that I usually get some help with. I'm not all that proficient in Photoshop in regards to editing, but I can arrange finished images into something that looks close enough to attractive.

I think overall in regards to self-publishing and doing things on my own, things are a bit different when speaking in regards to a single book that's clean cut, has a solid ending, and wraps everything up in about five hundred pages of text. It's a single creation. It's a completely different story when it comes to a long-running series. Or multiple series. That tie in with one another. Toss in some short stories, audio books, and other added bonuses, and we're talking - for all intents and purposes - about a mini empire. Or a major empire, like Harry Potter.

I'm not here to bash traditional publishing, but merely to point out the incentives I find that come along with self-publishing: I keep all of my rights, I earn more than 10% royalty, and I have full control over my projects. Granted, it can be a very steep hill one climbs to self-publish and actually become a well-known, household name, but it's not impossible. Years from now when I am a household name, I would rather that I be the one that has the final say in what goes into my writing, what my covers look like, and the ultimate direction that my books are going to take. I can be a bit of a control freak, but I figure this has been my dream since I was twelve, so why not do things my way?

I think some people focus so much on getting the dream they want - a publishing contract - that they don't take the time to look at what they may be giving up in regards to creative control. I am sure there are some great publishing companies out there that treat their authors with an enormous amount of respect and  have a good deal of leeway when it comes to what the author wants over what the publisher wants. But for me, I like to take the reigns on things. I know right now it's hard work - pushing a snowball down a hill - but soon that tiny ball of snow turns into a giant snowboulder that's moving entirely on its own momentum. All great things take time.

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