It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so this post is for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. It’s my first post for this blog hop. I’m just a little bit nervous.
I’ve decided to answer the totally optional prompt this month (paraphrased): What publishing path did I take, and why?
About five years ago I decided to self-publish instead of sending my manuscript (first three chapters printed out with a synopsis and cover letter) to a traditional publisher. There were a number of reasons. They all stemmed from a book called The Naked Truth About Book Publishing by Linda Houle. I still have it in my Kindle library.
It’s a pretty good book, though very dated now. At the time it was published, this book pointed out all the problems and good points of traditional publishing, publishing with a small press, and self-publishing, as it stood at the time. And it came out around the time of the Kindle Revolution, when some authors were making a huge amount of money by publishing their work themselves. Which means self-publishing was increasingly in the news.
I would like to say I thought through my decision completely and totally. And I kind of did. I liked the idea of hiring my own cover artist. I liked the idea of a 70% royalty. The biggest attraction was control. I wanted whatever mistakes that got into the book to be mine. Because then I at least had a chance of fixing them.
But that’s not what made me pick up Linda Houle’s book in the first place. I couldn’t even tell you what it was exactly, except that my husband would take that manila envelope to the post office and either forget to drop it in or not feel right about doing it. I went by there myself and ended up not feeling right about it either. And it made no sense. I decided I must have missed something in my research, so I began reading whatever I could on the subject. Thus, the book by Houle.
Now, this decision was not easy. I wanted a book that looked professionally published, but had no money to do anything. And that terrified me. I try not to think about those early days because I knew I was making mistakes as part of the learning process and I hate mistakes so very, very much.
But those mistakes were mine, so I fixed them as I worked.
I learned the editing process and (confession time) did all the editing myself using every trick I could find (still do). I studied book covers at my local bookstore and Wal-Mart and tried to figure out the fonts and images needed for the genre I’d chosen. I read books on design and art. I made basic ebooks using Smashwords’s formatting advice and put together readable ebooks.
And, over time, I improved and became less afraid each time I hit Publish.
I still have a lot to learn and I still make mistakes, some of them costly. Like, for example, the time a reader pointed out a couple of errors in a book and I decided to switch from my “I’m so glad you’re reading” tone to a “professional” tone because I didn’t want to be seen as someone who didn’t know what they were doing. It wasn’t until much, much later that I realized I’d come across as cold. *headdesk* And enough time had passed by that point* that I didn’t feel comfortable trying to write back with that “I’m so glad you’re reading” tone.
So yeah. Still make big mistakes.
But the point remains: those mistakes are mine. I can own them. I can change them with minimal fuss. And that makes me glad I chose self-publishing.
* I was going through the death of a family member and a move at the same time and both had repercussions for months afterward. That’s why it took so long to realize how I’d sounded.