The Seduction of Self-Publishing
When I first started writing seriously, I dreamed of writing for some big publishing house, making a ton of money and seeing my name on the bestseller lists. By the time I’d written something I considered worth revising, editing, and submitting to publishers (5 or 6 drafts later), the reality of how the publishing world really works had set in. I found that the fact that I had to jump through a whole bunch of hoops just to get my manuscript read (whether I used an agent or not), and then possibly having to change entire portions of my book just to make it “fit” whatever niche the marketing department wanted it in really took all the fun out of writing for me. Not to mention the incredibly long lag time between submitting a manuscript and actually seeing it on the shelf. I’ll admit, I’m impatient…and I have goals that don’t really include waiting two years for a book to come out after I’m finished with it.
After learning everything I could about publishing, I was less than enthusiastic about the process. I just wanted people to read my work, and waiting for traditional publishing made it seem unlikely that it would ever happen. I decided to let go of my big bestseller dreams and just serialize a novel on my blog, strictly for fun. I knew that by doing so I would be “using up” first rights, which is what publishers want, so my serial novel would be “un-publishable”. But I wanted to know what people would think of my work before I went through the maze of publishing anything, so it seemed like a good test run. While I didn’t call it such, this was my first foray into self-publishing.
My first serialized novel draft was bad – but people read it. They commented on it. Overall, they even liked it! So I started another one, determined to do better. And when I finished that one, I liked it. My readers liked it. I knew I couldn’t submit it, but I could turn it into a real, bonafide book. Against all practical advice from the traditional publishing world, I revised it, and sent it off to an editor, bought cover art, and just a few short months later I released Tempest.
People bought it. They’re still buying it, slowly but surely. Some people even want my signature, which is still sort of unfathomable to me.
For me, the process of writing, preparing and ultimately offering my work for sale was empowering and seductive. Rather than being at the whim of countless other people, my book was exactly what I wanted it to be, and I worked hard to make it the best quality product I could. I felt like an artisan, rather than someone who creates at the behest of another (as I do at my day job). I decided very shortly after releasing Tempest that I’d self-publish most, if not all of my work.
Romance readers read fast – and by publishing my own work, I can get books out on my own time schedule, so my readers aren’t left to the whims of traditional publishing schedules. I don’t have to rely on a marketing department to tell me what readers want, because through serializing my work, readers can tell me directly what’s working for them and what doesn’t, before I even get to the editing stage. I can be very open with my work and share as much as I want, which I believe helps in marketing the resulting book. Most authors have to market their own work no matter how they publish, so this just takes away the limitations imposed by the traditional houses. I can price my books low, because I keep all of the royalties, which means readers can take a chance on my books for the price of a decadent snack.
I believe that romance and thriller writers are in the best position to actually make a living self-publishing books, simply because readers are hungry for as much of those genres as we can write, as fast as we can write them. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme – much like traditional publishing, you have to be in it for the long haul. But for me, I’d rather be doing it on my own time, and my own terms than at the whims of others. Such is the seduction of self-publishing.
Jamie DeBree, Romantic Suspense Author
Tempest is available now from Amazon and other online retailers