Birth of an Indie Author
To self-publish or not to self-publish: that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of publishing houses, or take arms against a sea of troubles by self-publishing.
So I maybe rewrote Hamlet there, but when it came time to think of publishing, it's oddly fitting. The nunnery scene! Ha! Which explains a lot about the frustration authors feel today.
When I finished manuscripts one and two, I was against self-publishing. My thought process was that I wanted all three manuscripts done and while I wrote book three, I would be a good girl and go through the sometimes lengthy process of trying to get an agent and try to get published traditionally. Publishing houses are well-oiled machines and know what they are doing and I, as a new author, knew nothing.
I mean, getting signed with one of the Big 5?! You've made it.
Ha. Ha, ha.
I was in for a rude awakening. I made a decent query letter. And I went scrounging for agents. Some want only a letter. Some want first three chapters. Some want first 30 pages. Some want 10 pages. Some want a synopsis. Some don't. And agents and/or their assistants read maybe ten pages, but more than likely one paragraph before they decide if they want to take you on.
A flipping paragraph.
I sent out roughly 30 queries. I got all "no" except for one kind soul that told me she didn't have time to take me on at the time but my plot seemed interesting and I should keep going, keep trying to get published. And I only hope that wasn't her automated no response.
What's it like trying to get published nowadays?! It's like online dating. And it's terrifying.
Side note: I do know the horrors of online dating as I set up my friend for an account. Holy frigs. Ter-ri-fying. Tinder? I mean what in the actual what?!
Anyway. You don't just send your book to a publishing house nowadays. You have to get an agent. But you need to like said agent if you are going to be working together in the years to come. Even if you have an agent, you are not guaranteed a book deal, but they work on your behalf to sign you said book deal. If you get a book deal, then you get to work with an editor from the publisher along with your agent to spruce up your manuscript. They help you with your cover art and editing and get your book ready to be mass produced. A team of people at your disposal. (Which of course take a large chunk of your royalties in exchange for their services.)
Sounds good so far right?! Kinda cool that I can't shoot a three-pointer to save my life, but I can have an "agent". Boom. Move ova, Steph Curry.
But this is where traditional publishing gets a bit hairy. My books are looooong. My writing style is different. I like to move things along so I don't get bored. I write like I talk, which gives my story a unique voice. If said agent, editor, or publishing house didn't like any of that, my book would need to change in order to be "polished" enough in order to "sell the product".
Not okay. Not only am I not okay trusting a complete stranger to be my agent, but I'm not okay having my life's work treated like a dollar bill. I also don't like that there's a lot of "who you know" in the industry. When I started, I didn't know anyone. Not a single person in the writing/publishing/editing world. I was an outlier riding only on what little talent I possessed and sheer guts.
And call me a control freak (snorts guiltily), but I want to be able to decide every detail about my work. I want to pick the cover. I want to set the price. I want to decide what needs to be junked and what is salvageable. I want my voice undisturbed.
Sure, you also get a greater percentage of royalties if you self-publish if you don't have to pay your agent or a publishing house, but you also don't have an editor. I couldn't afford the $5000 to do a basic copy edit by a professional editor so guess who I hired? Me, myself, and moi.
And that was the part about self-publishing that was horrifying. No editor. Editing all by myself. Not a paragraph or a page, but 600 pages. Lord, hear our prayer!
But in the end, I decided that risking a few missed errors here and there was worth the opportunity to be able to do it all. I picked my cover art. I picked my price. I want to be able to cater to my readers and I want my books to be affordable (or as affordable as possible). I want my voice kept intact. Self-publishing allowed me to do it all.
So...I'm self-publishing. It's crazy. Absolutely bonkers...but I feel at peace with it. I don't want to risk my dreams on someone else's ability to market my book. Or on anyone's effort other than my own. I only trust my own work ethic because I know how hard I'm willing to work to make it.
For now, I've said goodbye to my dreams of the Big 5. I still totally respect them, but this small-town girl is going to find a way...with or without them. I am not about to sit around for years waiting for a yes like you hear some of the greats have done. That's just not my style. Instead, I'm gonna go out and grab my “yes” by the horns…tomorrow.
Book 1 is live tomorrow.
I don't have words for how nervous/anxious/excited I am. I've worked so very hard. The time is finally here and yet those doubts and fears keep gnawing at me in the nooks and crannies of my mind.
Am I good enough? Is it good enough?
But, there's only one way to learn, and part of that with writing is having other people read my stuff. I know how hard I've worked. I'm proud of how far it's come. It will never be perfect, but it's ready. So herrrrre we go!
Tomorrow. Tomorrow I am officially a published author. Tomorrow anyone that wants to can pick up a copy of MY book and read it at their leisure. Tomorrow I get to take you on a journey to meet the characters I adore. Tomorrow. And though tomorrow will be nerve-wracking and super friggin' scary, I've been waiting for tomorrow for five years.