Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Novel idea...

As many of you know, I am in a constant state of indecision regarding whether to go the self-publishing route or stick to the old "query 'til you drop" route...which is most likely only successful if you truly do query 'til you drop rather than giving up for a month after every 50 queries which is what I tend to do. I don't really have the stamina to put my creative hat aside for long periods of time to write cover letters and research agents and their interests.

Though I'm not really any closer to a definitive decision for my own work, I did notice something interesting the other day when my Alumni Magazine arrived from my Alma Mater. I did the usual perusal for my graduation year and noted the new arrivals and who's been named to what boards and graduated which medical schools. Then I noticed a page dedicated to new publications from various alumni. Right there on the page was a color photo of each book, the author and a brief synopsis along with the book price. There was a children's book, a self-help book and two novels. I didn't know any of the authors myself, but I did recognize the publishers. In fact, 3 of the 4 were SELF PUBLISHED!

I'm chagrined to admit that my first I thought was "Oh they are self-published" as a justification of sorts. But then I recognized the little green monster for what it was and wondered if the majority of alumni reading this page would be informed regarding the various names of self-publishing companies - and would they even care? And then I thought: Who cares - this is GREAT free advertising to a HUGE alumni network!

So I'm back on the fence. Mostly because I'm perhaps not ready for the huge self-promotion work it will require to be successful as a self-published author. After all, I still have a toddler at home - my time is not really my own. Or perhaps that is just an excuse. But either way, I'm gathering the courage (and marketing ideas) so that when I DO decide, I'll go out there into the professional arena with a bang!

What are your thoughts? Any great marketing ideas from those of you who have opted for self-publishing?


  1. I'm going to do both - or at least try to do both. The self-publishing thing is a given, naturally. :-) I'm working on two manuscripts right now - revising one to release this summer, and rewriting another to query to my chosen publishing line. I'm partial to self-publishing personally, but I also want the legitimacy within the writing community that only trad. publishing can give (for now, anyways). These days though, you need to market yourself either way. Publishers don't put all that much time/money behind it unless you're already "huge".

    The thing about marketing is, once you get everything set up, it can pretty much run itself with minimal input. I work 40 hours a week and write at night, but I still maintain my web site and blog, Facebook, MySpace and just takes some organization and setting things up to work *together* (ie, my blog posts automatically feed into FB, Twitter and the front page of my web site). Goodreads is linked to all of it. I recently opened a Tumblr account, and my various sites will eventually stream to that as well. The lovely thing about the internet is there's generally a way to hook everything don't have to spend time on every site every day to keep your name out there. :-)

    Kristen Lamb is going to be releasing a book on Social Media for Writers later this year...that might be something you'd want to check out. And my inbox is always open... ;-)

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

  2. I plan to query til I drop, but my husband and I are putting together a non-fiction book based on his Masters work that we'll self-publish...someday.
    Maybe you should pick one manuscript to keep plugging away at the old fashioned way and another you self publish to relieve the frustration?
    Good luck!

  3. Don't self-publish. That's my opinion. Putting your book out on Amazon with millions of others won't help it get found. I would go through a few hundred rejections before I self-published.

  4. Ugh..even the comments are divided! LOL...Lorel, I think you're right - it IS frustration that drives me toward the self publishing. And Ben, my heart totally agrees with you...

  5. If all you're planning to do is put it on amazon and hope people find it, Ben is right. But all authors have to learn to market and promote.

    I'm planning to self-publish. I've gotten an editor lined up and have cover art arranged... you have to go into it willing to do a ton of research, do all the work an agent and publisher would usually do for you, prepare to shell out for professional editing and cover art (if you don't have the means to do the artwork yourself)... it's a lot of work, but it just doesn't have the stigma it used to.

  6. What I will say is that, even if you are picked up by a publisher as I was lucky enough to be, you still end up having to do just as much marketing.

    What you get from a publisher, if you're lucky, is professional standards of editing and design, along with a decent distribution network. As such, the time to consider self publishing comes when you find yourself left querying only those publishers who won't provide much in the way of those things.

    Even then, you have to be aware that you would probably be targeting a smaller audience when doing so, and have to ask whether the return is worth the outlay, or, if not, whether it might be worth putting the project in a drawer and starting something different.

  7. I would say this is a agonising question.
    I agonised over whether to self-pub or go traditional.
    The up side of traditional if you ever get in is you will get an editor and distribution. But you will only ever make a few cents per copy and as Stu says you will have to do most of the marketing anyway. Almost no book is marketed by publishers they just stick them on a distribution list and leave it at that.
    The advantage of self pubbing is that it remains you baby. If you break the trend and sell many books the money is yours. But you will have to do it all (or pay someone to do it for you). Plus - there is still stigma attached to self pubbing (although that is diminishing and is mainly in the "professional" world anyway)
    I've been lucky in getting a couple of copyedits and opinions from editors for nix (or nearly so). Also I like the challenge of creating a professional cover and layout so that side of things suits me fine.
    The decision is hard because there is no "right" answer. Good luck with your dilemma, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

  8. I'm a newbie myself, but I've only heard negative things about self publishing. One of my friend's friends went that route, and she has huge debt and lots of unsold books to show for it.

    No matter what you decide, you'll have the rest of us here in blogger land cheering you on!

  9. Thanks for all your words of experience! It seems crazy that it is such a huge decision but after putting so much of your heart into the work, I just don't want to throw away any options b/c I'm in a rush. You all have some great ideas...

  10. I have friends who have done both. Either way, you will be required to market yourself as publishing houses don't do what they used to years ago. But I will never self-publish because I want the benefit of someone who knows the trade to publish and edit my book. I used to own a bookstore and so many people wanted us to sell their books--frankly, the quality was not there in most of them.Yes, some make it but they have to be excellent and again have a platform etc to get it out there. Keep at it and write a book that a publisher will want--make it the best you can. I am planning to hire a professional editor this time as I know many writers do and they get published.

  11. PS I noted you were East coast raised and live on the west coast. Made me think of my daughter raised in PA and now she lives in Seattle.

  12. Terri, I was raised in PA too! But am in San Diego now...

    I've never thought of hiring an editor to ready my manuscript for agents/publishers. I was for sure planning to use one if I self-published but I can definitely see the benefit of getting that done sooner. Will be looking into it!

    Oh - and I'd LOVE to own a bookstore!