I’m self-publishing…AND I’M SCARED! -Avis Thoughts #6
(aka. I’m going to become an indie author and I’m terrified but also very excited.)
Okay, “scared” might be too broad of a term, let’s just say I’m a tad nervous. Some may even say queasy.
I decided a while back I’m not going to publish my books through a traditional press.
Why? Well, let me give you some backstory.
About four years ago I started the draft for what was going to be my debut book series. I realized at the time rather quickly I did not know a lick about publishing, editing, the writing community, blogging, etc. So I did what any reasonable person would do, I googled it.
Shifted through a few articles, watched a few videos and quickly stumbled upon a video by an awesome author-tuber. And let me just say this, I am forever grateful that I found her channel and so many other author tubers so early on. She had to be the best sort of accidental mentor ever!
I stumbled upon more author-tubers but I’ll dive into them later on. (I really want to do a future spotlight post on them but I need to keep this post short.)
I read articles, watched videos, worked on my manuscript, took writing courses, and learned more about the publishing industry and author customs. But during these past few years, I found myself tangled with a conundrum:
Did I want to publish traditionally or self-publish?
At first, the answer seemed obvious:
Heck no I wasn’t going to go self-publish, it’s expensive and “wear all the hats,”/ pick up a lot of responsibilities, and if I did actually marketing and selling my book would be difficult (getting any eyes on my book would be difficult). I mean sure you had to wait a lot when traditionally publishing, but so what? If you published traditionally that meant more time for getting other things done. You could use that time for hobbies, writing your other books, or create promotional swag for the release.
It’s much more difficult to get your books into bookstores and libraries with self-publishing. Plus all my favorite authors are with big publishing presses and I wanted to be like them. This was my one note logic at the time.
Oh sweet naive me from 2-3 years ago. How broad were thy assumptions?
As time went on and I drew closer and closer to completing my manuscript, I learned more about the publishing industry and suddenly my traditional path was starting seem more unsavory.
Don’t get me wrong, both traditional and self-publishing have their pros and cons, it doesn’t matter what you pick, you’re going to get cons with either side.
It just so happened that the cons for traditional publishing really punched me the gut and would later influence my decision.
To make a long story short through these months I flipped back and forth between these two choices until I finally settled on an option, hybrid or small press publishing.
Surely that would be the best of both worlds, it would give me a higher chance of retaining control and it would still be considered traditionally publishing. Now all I needed to do was find the perfect small or indie press that accepts a high concept MG fantasy that I can trust, and totally won’t be a death battle for entry…*sigh*
I made a list and checked it twice.🎅🎄
But most of my small press publishing options didn’t seem nice. 😦
So I went back to my list of agents instead.
I reviewed the traditional publishing process and spent the next few months researching and eagerly soaking up all I could find about the process.
Then came the time when my manuscript was “complete.”
It was beta read, edited, and tweaked for months, at this point it was practically screaming to be sent out to agents.
*cue my internal screaming*
I tidied up my manuscript, tightened my pitch, got a list of comp. Titles, varied synopsis, research references, etc. Then I sent out queries.
The worst part of my querying process wasn’t spending hours making elaborate lists of MG agents, drafting countless queries, or even the rejections I got, I was expecting and mentally prepared to receive those.
The worst part was the waiting.
I expected to wait, but expecting is different from experiencing, and yes all the stories you heard on social media about torturous hours of refreshing your inbox and being in the query trenches are true.
But this got to me for a reason I didn’t expect.
All this waiting and not touching my manuscript forced me to once again reflect on my decision to traditionally publish. In traditional publishing, there’s a lot of waiting and involved. Back then, I was fine with the idea of this, for reasons I stated before, you can do a lot of things while waiting.
But now that I had a finished story just sitting in on my computer, I didn’t want to wait. I didn’t want to wait for a partial request and then a full request. I didn’t want to wait to compare my agenting options, or for my agent to arrange a contract. I didn’t want to wait for “the call” or for my agent to send it off to be essentially queried to publishers.
I didn’t want to wait for the publishing house to discuss whether or not to take me on then work with me back and forth. I didn’t wait another year for my book to come out, nevertheless, two, three, or heaven forbid five.
This wasn’t the only that I reflected on at the time.
I wouldn’t have much say on the cover or marketing of my book.
I would no longer have full control or rights over my work or characters. Or how they’re used, or what they’d appear in.
I could be restricted in what I wanted to write and publish in the future. (What would this mean for my other stories?)
My book could possibly be held from releasing and I couldn’t do a thing about it.
At this point, I was already considering pulling out from the querying process, but then the final bombshell I found out LATE within the querying.
There was no guarantee that my book would get a series, in other words, they could publish the first and be like, “Hey, actually we’re not continuing this.”
Cue my aghast reaction below to this news:
This tore it for me. Something just clicked in my mind and suddenly I just realized how much I was truly bargaining by being traditionally published. I was already considering pulling out from querying and looking more into small presses again but when I heard this news I hit the brakes hard on traditional publishing.
My book was not meant to be standalone. (*cough*with series potential*cough*)
Forget that, if it was another one of my WIPs I wouldn’t of minded as much, but this series I’ve been working on for the past three to four years…I can’t even begin to express how much this series means to me, I poured so much into the world, characters, plotline, ect.
Forget bookstores and library exclusivity, I would rather release myself than give up the rights to my character and the series. (I’m getting heated as I write this so time for an intermission.)
🎵 We’ll be right back! 🎵
Now where were we…ah yes, no book deal in the world was going to pry me from my characters!
But in all seriousness, I’m actually thankful I queried, it not only reminded me of why I write in the first place but forced me decided what really matters to me and encouraged me to further brush up my presentation, pitches, and prose.
It forced to really think long game for once, I always had a vague vision of what I wanted to do with my story and future books, but practicing for that agent/ publisher negotiation made me realize I needed a stronger plan and more clearly defined goals.
And to the agents that gave my manuscript a chance even though it was in an ever-growing slush pile, a big thank you, your job is difficult (I especially learned this though researching interviews. Seriously I was given ballpark figures for how much y’all read and deal with on a daily basis and much respect.)
To any writer going down the traditional route, you ever query remember agents are people too and rejection is all part of being a writer. Or at the very least save face by doing your due research and not having a massive online meltdown for all to see and burn bridges in the process. I wish I was making this up but I stumbled onto a few threads on twitter an oh boy! The salt is real. 😕
So that brings us to the present… (This post is getting long so let me speed through what happened next.)
Before all my queries had even returned I went back to researching self-publishing. I reviewed things I’d learned before and learned more on top of it. I rewatched videos documenting the journey of people self-publishing and discovered a lot of author-tube folks I’m still watching now.
I have funds for the process, albeit low in comparison to authors who went through this journey, I have been saving up for years now because I heard authors do a lot of marketing whether traditional or self-published. But now I guess that’s part of my main publishing fund. (Yay?)
Currently, I’m planning to self-publish my entire book series, and even if I don’t break even, or see my book on a shelf I’ll be happy knowing my book is out in the world. Something about losing so much control over my book and being willing to give up just spooked me so terribly.
I’m not writing for money or notoriety. Or enter some exclusive club for traditionally published folk, I wrote because I had a story to be told and love exploring the worlds I write and seeing the characters come alive through the words. If you want to traditionally publish it’s fine, but personally it’s not my cup of tea. (Or at least for my debut series.)
I think the reason why I gave up these rights was because of all much time I spent on the book, and how much I was afraid of not being taken as a “legit published author” with who had her books on shelves.
And yeah I’m a bit nervous and rightfully so, because I know I’ll fumble during this process, and I know how much I’m putting on the line with this decision.
But as now stands, I’m more certain than ever I’m choosing the right publishing path. 99% (I mean if there’s a slim chance I’m offered a multi-million dollar deal maybe… But no book deal or agent acceptance would change my mind…probably…most likely…nah, they won’t.)
And as for my book…
Well, more about that later. 🙂 This post is already too long.
To end, I don’t know for sure where this indie journey is going to take me exactly, but your to come along for the journey if you want. (I mean even if it is a trainwreck it ought to be entertaining at least, right?)
Until next time you beautiful folk!