Friday, July 22, 2011

Self-Publishing: The New Paradigm--Part Two

Living My Dream


The publishing industry is in a great state of change. There is truly a revolution going on. Not since the invention of the printing press has such vast changes occurred with such far-reaching consequences. When Gutenberg introduced his moveable-type machine, it made books economically available to the masses. Now, I'm sure there were many die-hards lamenting the demise of hand-inscribed tomes. I can hear them grumbling and moaning about how the quality of the machine-printed books were horrible compared to those beautiful expensive books meticulously copied out by the monks in the abbeys. And God forbid, now the great-unwashed hordes would have access to knowledge heretofore available only to the aristocracy. Social order was threatened. The world as they knew it was at an end.

See any similarities to what is happening in the publishing industry today? I say that with tongue in cheek, but in a way, the same thing is happening now.

Self-publishing used to be a BIG NO-NO. There was a stigma attached and still is to some degree. Writers were convinced it could end their careers. Some still do. Recently, in an article in Publisher's Weekly or New York Times, I can't remember, they referred to self-publishing as "previously scorned". Earlier this year, RWA sent out a survey on self-publishing. That was certainly interesting. And even my own HBA RWA Chapter newsletter reports on the progress of the members who have taken the plunge into independent publishing.

In some circles, it's cool to self-publish. OMG! I'm finally one of the cool kids. I've never been one of the cool kids in my entire life. I like it. You might like it, too.

There really is no reason NOT to self-publish. If you've been previously published and have a backlist or books that didn't sell, you could be sitting on a gold mine. If you are seeking a traditional publishing contract, you should go ahead and self-publish and earn money while you wait. It's the new slush pile. Agents and editors search through the Amazon Bestseller Lists looking for new talent. Many Indies have been offered, and some have even accepted, signing deals with big publishing houses.

You need to decide what traditional publishing can do for you. How long will bookstores, as we know them, be in business? Borders is history and the repercussions of its closing will soon be felt.

If you sign a book deal today, your book won't be published for 12-18 months. You could be making money during that time equal to or more than some advances. Besides, most traditional authors are expected to do their own promotion now. Many editors aren't really editing anymore. And I hear midlist authors, right and left, are getting royally screwed.

The readers are the new gatekeepers. NY isn't the only one deciding what gets published any longer or what is worthy to be made available to the masses. The readers decide. And that's how it should be. It's all about the readers.

I'm selling more books each month than I ever dreamed possible. When I was published with a small ePress, I didn't feel like I was a successful author. Sure, they were RWA approved, but I wasn't selling books and I wasn't connecting with readers. I'm doing that now, on my own, and I finally feel successful.

Self-publishing doesn't have to be expensive. I do my own covers, format my manuscripts, write my own blurbs, upload to Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Smashwords distributes to Apple, Kobo, and many other channels.

If you feel you don't have the computer savvy or skill to do it yourself, you can hire out cover art, editing, formatting and uploading. It's not that expensive. But be sure to pay a one-time fee. Do not pay someone a percentage of your sales for eternity for doing something that only takes a couple of hours or at most a couple of days or a week. That is just crazy.

What about validation?

Perhaps you think you will somehow be validated when you land that traditional contract. I don't know; that isn't my dream anymore. For me, selling thousands of books is validation. Knowing thousands of people are reading and enjoying my stories is validation. Fan letters are validation. Four and five star reviews are validation. (On the other hand, one star reviews just plain suck.) Seeing my books on the Bestseller lists on Amazon is validation. The money deposited into my checking account? Priceless.

I've never been a team player. I don't like to write to committee. The freedom to write and publish what I like to read and write is liberating. And I've found readers who actually like what I like. I don't have to bow down and submit to editors and agents, practically begging to be noticed. I don't have to write something dictated by NY. I write for myself first, then share my stories with the readers, with no middle man involved.

What about quality?

Yes, there is a lot of crap out there. But there's a lot of crap put out the traditional way, too.
***

Secrets to Success:

1.  You must write a good book. These same rules do apply as they do in traditional publishing. You want to grab the reader, suspend their disbelief, pull them into your story and make them care about your characters. Your writing needs to shine. Your text needs to be clean with no typos. You don't want to stop your reader with awkward sentences, plot holes, or weak GMC. You also don't want to stop your reader with sloppy text and formatting.

2.  An eye-catching cover is a must. I believe a picture is worth a thousand words and it needs to pop on the screen. Make sure the font is large and clear in thumbnail view.

3.  Write a blurb that catches the reader's interest. You want to snag their attention and make them want to read your story.

4.  Low price. For an unknown author, this is the best and easiest promotion, IMO.

Only you can decide whether self-publishing is right for you. You might want to ask yourself a few questions:

1.  Is your writing costing you money? IMO, money should always flow to the writer. Entering contests and going to conferences is expensive. Instead of gambling with the money you spend on your writing, invest in yourself.

2.  Is your writing giving you joy or causing you frustration?

3.  Are you content to write for an editor or agent? Or do you want to write for the readers?

4.  Do you want to wait years and years before catching an editor's attention? Then wait for more years to pass before you actually see your book in print? And will there even be any bookstores left when your book finally comes out?

***

I've spent the past year building my "business." I've laid the foundation and put out nine books. From now on, I will be writing new product and releasing it into the wild. I'm having fun and keeping a light-hearted attitude. I'm trying not to take it so seriously. I hope this shows through to my readers. If I'm having fun, so will they.

I love being self-published. I am living my writer's dream. I'm writing what I want to write. I have readers anxiously awaiting my next book. And I'm making a little dab of money . . . and then some.

In conclusion, all I can say is: It's a wonderful time to be a writer!!!


Happy Publishing!!!

Anne Marie  :)

25 comments:

Cynthia Wicklund said...

OMG! Anne Marie, it's as if you were speaking for me. Great article. And just so you know, your success was one of the reasons I took the plunge. So thank you for that.

Cheers, Cindy Wicklund

Judy said...

You had me convinced a long time ago, Anne Marie! I just have to get to the point of having time to focus. I have two contracts to honor--edits coming up--but I'm working feverishly on my cozy mystery series, have revised another ms that will go "out there", and am studying how to put together my children-young adult story series, "The Kate Chronicles" into small volumes.

My goal is to start 2012 as an independent-to-be!

Thanks for the inspiration!

Tambra said...

Anne Marie, this is my second round of self publishing. I never understood why people looked down on it. As you said there are some pretty unpalatable stories out there in traditional publishing land.

You've been such an inspriation to me. Thank you so very much!

Hugs,
Tambra

Heidi Hall said...

I love this post, Anne Marie! Wonderfully empowering, uplifting and inspiring. Congratulations on your success now, and for years to come.

Best,

~Heidi

Kimberly Ivey said...

Anne Marie,

I've forwarded the link to your blog to my creative writing students, writer friends and critique group.

Years ago "they" said that e-books would never make it in the market. Ahem...I suppose "they" are eating crow with a Tums chaser now!

Years ago "they" said that indie publishing (self-publishing) was frowned upon and that it would make you appear to be an amateur, let alone make editors and agents turn you away.

It was all baloney. It was about power, control and money. And the poor authors, unfortunately, caved into this way of thinking.

I'm glad to see that you've stepped out of the box and into the indie publishing arena. In some ways I think you have paved the way for other authors--both well published and pre-published--and given inspiration and hope to those who might have long given up.

I've indie published one of my backlisted titles already, and I can honestly say that I made more money in one month on that release than I ever made in the three years I was contracted with the publishing house.

I've also gone on to indie publish my children's books and romance novels, each genre under respective pseudonyms of course, and I'm doing quite well.

This has been an adventure for me and I hope that when a year has passed, that I, too, can report on all the great things that have happened as a result of indie publishing.

Thanks for a great blog!

AnneMarie Novark said...

LOL Cynthia!!!

I imagine I speak for many writers in these exciting changing times.

I've watched your progress with your books zooming up the charts and Amazon lists.

WooHoo!!! And I love love love your covers!!!

Thanks, for stopping by.

AnneMarie Novark said...

Great goal, Judy!!!

I know you can do it!!!

And never forget that you played a major role in my taking the plunge over to the Dark Side.

Only it's not the Dark Side anymore, is it?

Good luck!!!

AnneMarie Novark said...

Tambra,

The stigma attached to self-publishing is fast disappearing. Like I said, it's getting to be a cool thing to go indie.

Good luck with this second round!!!

AnneMarie Novark said...

Hey Heidi!!!

I recognize you from over at the Kindle Boards.

Thanks for the kind words and good luck with your own self-publishing adventure!!!

AnneMarie Novark said...

Wow, Kimberly!!! Thanks!!!

You made some good points. And sounds like you've got a lot of irons in the Indie game. Good for you!!!

It's so liberating, isn't it? At the same time, it's scary to put your stuff out there on your own.

People say it's so super easy, but it's a lot of work. The learning curves are high and the emotional roller coaster is NOT easy sometimes.

Good luck!!!

Judd Exley said...

Hells yeah!
For the most part, it's all been said on our li'l blogs in our li'l circles, but you ARE one of the cool kids, and it's worth saying.

Well done.

Tara Benwell said...

This post is so upbeat and inspiring, and I'm sure you'll convince at least one writer to take the plunge. I too am living the dream now. It feels wonderful. Instead of waiting for email from my agent and doing another revision for an editor who I may never meet, I'm having conversations with real readers who are enjoying my novel.

I'm adding this post to my Scoop It! on self-publishing. http://www.scoop.it/t/self-publishing-ideas

Thanks again!
Tara

Robin Sullivan said...

I love hearing stories like this. I know so man people who have had the joy of writing squeezed out of them by years of rejections. The ability to connect with readers, to receive a fan mail, and to make money doing what you love - there's nothing better. Congratulations!

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

AnneMarie Novark said...

Thanks, Judd.

It's kinda cool to be one of the "cool" ones.

Thanks for stopping by.

AnneMarie Novark said...

Thanks, Tara.

What a great site!!!

Glad you're living the dream, too.

It's great to have real conversations with real readers!!! Sure beats hearing crickets from the agents and editors.

AnneMarie Novark said...

Thanks, Robin!!!

dragonfly said...

Another great blog, Anne Marie. I am trying to follow in your footprints. Yes, I'm kind of scared, and I appreciate your encouragement and support. I have 4 out there. The 2 romantic suspense are doing better than the humorous contemporary romances. Working on revising the next which is a little darker. We'll see what happens. I'm having an adventure. Thanks for blazing a trail. *hugs*
~June/J.D. Faver

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

Wonderful series, AnneMarie! We are traveling the same road, and we are all good company. On my blog, I call this Friend Power.

Although you, and I, and so many other indie authors may not be team players, we are all kindred spirits.

Looking forward to more in the series.

Best wishes,
Joan Reeves

AnneMarie Novark said...

Oh, Grasshopper . . . I mean, Drangonfly. LOL

I'm starting to see your books everywhere!!! WTG!!!

So glad I could help!!!

AnneMarie Novark said...

Hey Joan!!!

"Friend Power"!!! I LOVE it!!!

I must say YOU are the one blazing trails. Congratulations on your mega sales.

Kindred Spirits, indeed.

skhye@hotmail.com said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
E. Ayers said...

Yes, it's a great time to be a writer! I'm trying to follow in your footsteps. You are my inspiration and a wonderful friend.

There is nothing more exciting than getting a note from a reader in the inbox that says how much they liked your book. I have people emailing me asking when the next River City novel is coming out. (With luck, this week.) But just to think that there are readers waiting for it, makes my heart leap. These are not friends being polite, these are readers! OMG!

Traditional publishing is changing. There's a new wave and it's much more fun. I'm so glad you pushed me into the water. I was standing there looking at it and wondering if I could do it. You gave me that shove and encouraged me to start swimming.

Thanks for all that you do.
E. Ayers

AnneMarie Novark said...

Awww, E!!! I'm so glad I could help.

And it IS great and rewarding to hear from enthusiastic readers!!!

It reminds us what this is all about.

Good luck!!!

Zahra Brown said...

It's so exciting to know your work will be seen. I'm going to publish my first book next week, so the nerves are setting in.

I completely agree that readers are the next gatekeepers. Not only that, but I'm sure low reviews give good feedback for improvement, something agents and editors don't bother to do.

It's great to see the masses dictating what's hot. Why should four people (agent, editor, marketer, and bookstore owner) control what millions of people read?

AnneMarie Novark said...

Zahra,

Good luck on your first indie book!!!

Welcome to the Dark Side!!!

or maybe I should say:

Welcome to the Cool Kids' Klub!!!