Yep, I’m back :) It’s been a long while, or that’s how it feels anyway. September was my last blog post, and a lot has happened in that time, some of which has made me reconsider the direction I’m going with my writing career.
Since I first started writing stories, I always wanted to pursue what is now called “traditional” publication. Essentially that is finding an agent or editor to represent me, to spend time and money on me and my stories, and help get my work out there to the mass market.
However, there is another avenue, one that I’ve been resistant to for a long time: self publication.
Some people still shudder when they hear that. And honestly, it still scares the hell out of me. Why? Time and money, and lots of it.
Granted the scene has changed a lot in recent years. It used to be that self-publication meant hiring a printing company, paying for every copy of your novel, and then distributing that novel to whomever was willing to sell it for you. It was expensive, risky, and making a living off of it was extremely difficult. I don’t know if this existed before the internet, but if it did, I can only imagine how difficult it was.
At least with the internet, writers could promote their work and have methods for readers to order a copy online. I know of at least one online comic book writer who uses this method, Scott Christian Sava of The Dreamland Chronicles. His comic is free to view online, but hard-copies can be purchased, and this has given him at least some modicum of success (and has helped him garner interest from Hollywood!)
However, today it has become much more common for writers to begin making a living from self-publication, but not through the old printed method. E-books have begun to take a real foot-hold in the market. I’ve seen varying numbers for the market share of eBooks, ranging from 20% to 40%. I’d more likely believe the 20%, but the point is, the market is growing.
This is why I have begun to consider pursuing eBook publication for my high fantasy series, The Sword of Dragons. For more information on the first and second novel in this series, check out the “My Novels” section of my blog.
Pros and Cons
I still have lots of research to do, but I’ve discovered that there are multiple pros and cons of eBook self-publication.
One thing I like about self-publication is that I am essentially in control of my writing career. My success, or failure, is almost entirely in my hands. I do not rely on an agent or a publisher to represent me. But there-in lies a con: that puts ALL of the work on me.
Agents and publishers do a lot for a writer. Granted our work never ceases on a book, but they are the ones in-the-know for the market, and know how to advise you on what to do, they have the contacts, and they give you your best chance at the widest distribution.
Another big, big pro for eBook publication: you don’t have to pay to get your novel published. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s nookpress are completely free to use. If I wanted to, I could get my novel out there for publication in a couple of days. Plus neither vendor requires exclusivity, I can publish through both AND still get a hard-copy published some day.
However, it isn’t quite that easy. There is still the cost of finding and hiring someone to create cover-art for the novel. Granted I could make a very generic cover on my own, but I’ve found that even with eBooks, if the cover doesn’t catch a person’s eye, they are less likely to check out the book, let alone purchase it.
Another cost is advertising. I don’t know yet if Nookpress or Amazon include advertising on their websites for books published through them, but any and all marketing beyond that would be solely on my shoulders.
When it comes down to it, there is one big advantage: guaranteed publication. For all the cons, I get my name out there, I get my work out there for readers to see. There are no limited copies, it’s available, worldwide, for all to read. But can I make it as a writer via electronic means only?
Making It Big on the Internet
The fact of the matter is there are examples out there of varying artists who either make it big, or at least get a really good start on the internet. Lindsey Stirling has been a huge inspiration for me this year, and she got her name out there thanks to youtube and collaborations with other musicians. The aforementioned Scott Christian Sava got his name out there thanks to the internet. And I see writers like C. Miller who has written quality work and has both hard-copy and eBooks available of her Reave series, and I’m inspired by her work.
So while there’s no guarantee, it is entirely possible. I recognize that it will eat up a ton of my time, and I’d basically have to split between my full-time ‘day-job’ and writing, at least in the beginning. The goal would be to eventually make writing my full-time job.
I’ve gone over it again and again in my head, and I still am not sure. I’ve heard that if I fail to sell a book well online, it makes it more difficult for me to find an agent or publisher willing to invest in me. So of course, the what-if game keeps playing through my head.
I have a lot to think about. And I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback from all of you. Those who are writers, what are your experiences with self-publishing? Those who are readers, how often to you read eBooks? Anyone and everyone, your thoughts and opinions in this matter would be greatly appreciated. Please leave comments below :)