I am concurrently reading several books about self publishing. Most of the information is geared toward non-fiction writers, and I find it interesting that there is probably a lot more money to be made in non-fiction than fiction, but almost all I read is fiction. Well, with the exception of books on how to publish books…
The funny thing to me is that almost everything I read about publishing says that writing is easy, and that the real difficulty is marketing. They make it sound like if you come up with a great title that most of your work is done. I suppose this might be true, since I haven’t really tried marketing yet, but I don’t think that writing is easy for most people. Maybe it’s because the books are marketed to writers, the authors assume that writing is easy for their readers. But as an English teacher, I tell you I see a lot more examples of how writing is difficult for people than how it’s supposedly so easy.
My point is if you are a writer and you see this sort of comment, keep in mind that it’s not really true. Yes, writing is easy if you are a good writer. But it’s not easy for everyone. And the idea that “everyone has a book in them” is ludicrous. Yes, there are a lot of books written every year, but not everyone is writing one or wants to write a book. Sheesh. And even if writing is easy for you, you still have to come up with a good idea that’s not a cliche and you still have to write it effectively.
I guess I’m getting defensive because I already have a career that many people routinely denigrate – I teach high school English, and I often hear that teachers are “a dime a dozen” and of course we get blamed for many of society’s problems, and now I am looking to (while still teaching) start my own small publishing company dealing with the dime a dozen world of fiction novels. Well hell. But I’m doing it anyway, because I’m stubborn like that, and I happen to think my book is terrific and that maybe a few people will be willing to read it.
I want to address one more thing. I was reading a guide to finding an agent this morning, just in case I should find any information to change my mind about self publishing, and I ran across a line that said to avoid the desperation of self publication. But everywhere you turn, you find information about how there are only 6 major publishing houses left, and 300 midsized ones, while there are 81,000 small presses or self publishers. These 6 major publishers are receiving 3000-5000 query letters a week(!) or so one of my books claims. That’s a hell of a lot of query letters. Seems like you’d have to be more desperate to send out a letter based on those odds than just going ahead and doing the work yourself.
I don’t think that self publishing is desperate. I think it makes sense. Yes, there is a lot to learn, and yes, it’s a lot of work for one book and things would be more efficient if you had a stable of books you were promoting, but you have to work with what you’ve got. I don’t expect to make a lot of money off of this deal, but I do hope to at least break even. Waiting around for an agent or publisher to notice my little sweet book would be another form of breaking even – it wouldn’t cost me anything, but I wouldn’t get any readers out of the deal either, and that’s all I really want, readers.
If you are reading this because you are thinking of self publishing I wish you luck. I wish I was experienced enough to be able to say that it will work out for you, but of course I can’t know that. But I do know your chances of success are much greater if you keep trying and don’t quit – so… keep trying and don’t quit!! 🙂 Sheila