Happy Monday, folks! Today marks the third and final week of my blog tour and I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who participated! Today YA Author Dawn Brazil is sharing a book review along with author Melissa-Barker Simpson. And editor extraordinaire Christie Stratos is sharing a book spotlight. If you can, please hop over to each of their blogs and say hello!
But in the meanwhile, let’s get to the nitty gritty of today’s blog topic: indie pubbing.
Before I independently published my first novel, I had several unrealistic publishing expectations. For starters, I would get an agent for my first book right after my first query letter, that agent would land me a three book deal, and after the book was published, Hollywood would come a-knockn’, and I would be a bonafide, rock star author extraordinaire.
Well, as you can imagine, that didn’t happen. I spent a few years sending query letters into that black hole where query letters go but never return, and I spent even more time waiting for responses that never came before I started getting out and networking with other authors and attending writers panels and conferences and other such events and really getting an understanding of how the good folks in New York City (editors) make purchasing decisions:
- They hate your story. In fact, they think you’re such a terrible writer that you should be banned from writing anything, including grocery lists.
- They liked your story, but in order to buy it they need to love it.
- Your story is about cats and gosh darn it, they just purchased a cat story and can’t justify buying another one.
- Your story is about vampires, and though it has a new twist (vampires in Vegas! Woo-hoo!), the trend has been done to death and they can’t take a risk on it.
- Your story is about a philandering wife. The editor is secretly cheating on her husband and your book makes her feel guilty. She says, “No, bueno, dude,” and sends you a rejection letter.
- They like your novel but can’t possibly figure out how to market it. It has nothing to do with your talent: they just need to know how to categorize things in order to feel confident that they can sell it to the masses. They don’t tell you this in the form rejection letter, however, so you’re left thinking that you’re a terrible writer when really, that’s not the case.
There are a million and one reasons why agents and editors can’t take on every book that crosses their path. And if you’re a writer with publishing aspirations, you might find yourself a bit disenchanted after spending some time in the query burn house. You might find yourself asking the question: why don’t they like my novel? But it’s not about them not liking your novel. The question is: do you like your novel?
Traditional publishing: somebody else feels your novel is good enough to be published.
Independent publishing: you feel your novel is good enough to be published.
Now, indie pubbing isn’t for everybody. If you’re sitting there reading this and think that Createspace is a furniture moving company (or that Smashwords is something you do with a hammer), you probably have some more research to do. But if you’ve done your research, have a good product, and don’t mind doing some of the legwork yourself, then why not publish your own book?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you a good writer who has spent years developing your writing craft?
- Do you have some hard-hitting critique partners who LOVE your book? (And these people aren’t close friends or family members who think that everything you write is plain ole superb. These are people who know their craft and can spot the big picture issues.)
- Do you trust your gut and know that your book is good?
- Do you believe in yourself?
If you’ve answered yes to the questions above, then why not publish your own book? Here’s what I think is most important: connecting with readers. And you don’t need an agent or an editor to do that! If you know your story is good, you’ve gotten some stellar feedback from readers, and you believe in yourself, I want you to hear me loud and clear: the good folks of New York City are not responsible for your writing career: you are. Write the best damn novel you can, market it with due diligence, and then write another novel. It’s up to you to build your career. Don’t leave it in anybody else’s hands. If you believe in your novel, you owe it to yourself and your potential fans to get your book out into the world and let your voice be heard.
Now having said that, please don’t slap your book together and show up at Createspace with a flash drive talkin’ ‘bout, “Quanie told me to come down here and publish my novel.” Please do your part and make sure that your novel is professionally edited and that it’s formatted correctly and has a nice cover. You spent months (or years!) writing your novel. Make sure that when you present it to the world, it’s the best product it can possibly be!
What about others? Have you published independently? What’s been your experience? And if you haven’t, what’s stopping you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!