When I started writing my first novel, I was not sure that I wanted to go through the traditional method of publishing; however, I decided to wait and contemplate the possibility of self-publishing. Although I have not made a decision, I put aside my first novel and started on the second one – I am half way writing it. Why do it this way? Because it is a very important decision.
If you are contemplating self-publishing, that is great; however, make sure that you are ready for it. Ready for the financial issues (even if you POD), the marketing efforts, but mostly, ready with your novel. The novel (or other) must be as perfect and pristine as you can get it. Why? Because once it is out there for everyone to see, it speaks loud (and loads) about you as a writer and the quality of your work.
The internet and today’s technology has brought to light many people who want to write and publish their work for whatever reasons – fame, money, love of writing … Each writer has his/her own agenda. However, you see many people who convey that they are in a rush to publish their work; many, thinking that they will make a lot of money or will be known widely as best-selling authors. The reality is that it is not always this way; on the contrary, it is unlikely that this will happen, although there have been exceptions. It seems that the “hot market” has to do a lot with it. Once you expose your talent (or non-talent) to the masses, there is no going back, and if you did not bother to polish your work and present it in the best light, this may haunt you for the rest of your writing days.
Before you decide to present your work to the world, whether self-publishing or not, see if you are truly ready (not to be confused with procrastination).
- Learn about different ways of publishing your work
- Make your manuscript as perfect as it can be (more than one revision, editing, or hiring the necessary experts …)
- Evaluate your reasons for publishing and see what venue fits those reasons best.
- Consider your finances and your time to dedicate to this full-time venture.
- Read other authors who have self-publish or who have taken the traditional road.
- If you have someone who can give you an honest and detached opinion about your work, ask for it. This person should be as neutral as possible. More than one person is fine, as it will give you different points of view.
- Trust your gut. Many times your instinct is your best friend and agent.
- Be sure deep down that this is what you want.
A note of caution – Rejections are a given in this journey. Many people decide to self-publish after they have received tons of rejections. Other people will keep trying because they know that the traditional way is what they want. Be careful that you don’t get discouraged by all the rejections and the “not marketable enough” notes – it can kill your writing spirit. If this is what you want to do, continue to pursue it but make sure that you are not self-publishing for the wrong reasons. It must be true to whom you are as a writer. If you are so fortunate to get a contract after just a few no’s, realize that these days, the publishing business is all about “hot markets,” and it moves at a fast pace. Can you handle the many commitments and deadlines that the agent/editors/publisher puts on you? Are you able to let go of your precious work (and writer’s ego) and be open to all the suggestions that these people will have for you? Some people cannot and will not deal with many changes in their novel. I have read/heard stories of changes as crazy (pure lunacy) as far as getting rid or highly modify a main character. Most times, a writer feels and identifies with his/her characters and lives with them for long – they become a family. Ponder that and what it does to a writer.
Finally, both paths take a lot of work, dedication, commitment and overtime hours – be sure that you can handle it and certainly, that your family knows what you are getting yourself into, so it doesn’t take them (or you) by surprise. Therefore, don’t think of self-publishing as a light issue, an easy cope-out, or a second choice, because it is non of that. It is an option, a different way of doing things, and in many ways, of challenging yourself much more. Give it the respect that it deserves (that your work deserves as well) and don’t join the waves of unprepared authors who have self-published in a rush. Although I have not heard of anyone, it takes the most confident and self-assured, self-made, self-published author to turn down a book contract to continue the path of the indie author. That is why your reasons must be clear.
If you have gone through that experience, please feel free to share it here. As a writer that realizes the long journey ahead, your experiences are valuable to me and to other readers.