You’ve worked on this novel for months, probably years. Your blood (paper cuts), sweat and tears have gone into it. You’ve researched all about query letters and have a list of agents you plan to submit to. You’ve created the perfect query letter after reading piles of books on the subject from your library. Sound about right?
That was me too. For years. Until I opened my eyes to what was going on around me. Until I noticed where my audience was and realized how it shouldn’t be that much trouble just putting your work into a reader’s hands. It just shouldn’t. Sure, your work needs to be readable. Edit it, I beg of you. But if it’s the best you can do, and you feel it’s worthy of readers, why should you have to wait and wait and change your work to cater to what’s “in” right now? That’s right. It isn’t just if your book is good, a page-turner with gripping real-life characters or non-stop action. It doesn’t matter if your idea is genuine. It doesn’t matter if the literary agent absolutely adored your book. If it’s not “what they’re looking for” it means you don’t get published.
Believe it or not, even some very famous authors were rejected! Stephan King, C.S. Lewis (800 times!), Rowling and even Tolkien (read his rejection letter here) among others. Here all this time you were assuming if your work was that good, it would surely be published right? Wrong. If Rowling’s famous Potter series wasn’t even accepted, what chance do you stand? My point exactly. It means good work is rejected EVERY DAY because it wasn’t “trending”. It does NOT mean it isn’t a great book.
But what if they had self-published instead of sending it out to more and more lit agents? Well they might have made a ton more money and been noticed a lot sooner. So finally, my rambling done, I’ll tell you why I decided to self-publish, if that wasn’t reason enough.
1. Be An Author: I was born to be an author. So when I realized I didn’t have to wait for a single person to give me the green light, I knew it was possible. No other career do you listen to one person (or a few) to determine if you can have the career you want (apart from the entertainment business). I wanted to be an author. So I became one!
2. Build My Audience: By getting my books out there, rather than waiting on baited breath for a lit agent to accept and then sell my book, I’ll be working on building my audience now!
3. Experience: No my books aren’t perfect. My craft isn’t perfect, my characters aren’t perfect, my ideas aren’t perfect. And they never will be. But by putting more and more books out there, I will become a better author. Something if I had waited for one person’s approval, might never happen. I wouldn’t know what was good and what wasn’t. I’d just know that for some reason my book wasn’t accepted.
4. Money: Yes, shameful I know. But who wants a career without money? There are far better posts on how you can earn tons more money self-publishing than traditional. I’ll sum-up what I know. I’m not worth anything right now. Zilch. I have no fan base. If traditionally published, I might get, say a $5000 advance. That sounds great right? Well then I have to earn that back in royalties before I earn anymore. And royalties might be 35% tops. On the other hand, I could self-publish and immediately start earning 70-90% royalty. Forever. Also by setting your own sell price, you’ll get more buys which also leads to more money!
5. My book, my way: When you traditionally publish they can tell you to change the characters, tweak the plot, change the voice, cut characters completely. They also design your cover, pick/change the title of the book, write the back copy, pick the price, and a million other things. You basically don’t have any control at all. Self-publish…yes it’s more work, but you control it all! Now for a book I’ve worked on for years, I’ll spend a couple months and some money to make it everything I ever dreamed. I don’t have to make one change to appease the “masses”. Not only that but I can choose the price of my book. Which means I will have way more readers/buyers setting my no-name debut novel at a measly $3.99 than publishing it in bookstores for $8.99. How much more likely is someone to buy your book at the lower price without knowing who you are? A lot more likely! More readers=more money=bigger audience. Not only that but I can offer my book for free, offer discounts, bundle them together and set the price indefinitely! You go the traditional route, you don’t pick the price: ever. Nor can you offer faithful readers any bonuses or freebie days.
6. Honest/Helpful feedback: By submitting to lit agents and publishers you aren’t getting any real feedback. You are getting a yes or a no. Well that isn’t helpful at all. By self-publishing, you are getting immediate feedback in the form of reviews. No you won’t please everyone. Even the best authors have 1 star reviews. But, you will learn where you are lacking. Maybe people love your characters but found your conflict is lagging. Or maybe people love the way you handle dialogue but hate your descriptions. This can be an immediate boost to your self-esteem you never would have had if you waited on a traditional publisher, thinking your book wasn’t good enough. Sure your first, second, and even third book may be crap. But guess what? You’re still getting helpful feedback on what you need to work on.
7. Tempt Traditional Publishers: What?? You just said to not traditionally publish. Yes, yes I know. BUT if you’re down to #7 and still insist on traditionally publishing for whatever reason, this is for you. You as you are, with no fan base, and nothing under your belt, have zero clout. Which means if by chance you are picked up by a publisher, you’ll get a stinky advance. However, if you publish enough books and gain a big enough reader fan base, you’ll have much more clout which means the next time you submit, you’ll be given more consideration since they know they’ll make money off you! Also, some are approached by publishers to take there work to them! So show ’em how much you’re worth and make them treat you like it!
8. Why not? If all those reasons aren’t enough, I’m afraid I can’t help you. The only thing pulling me to traditional for all those years ( I later realized) was the fact that people still seem to respect traditional published books. It’s because there is a standard. With so many authors hitting publish as soon as they finish, without editing or getting beta reader feedback, indie author’s reps have been a little tarnished. But who are you publishing for? Others or yourself? I decided I didn’t care what others thought of me. I had published a book and they hadn’t. I was an author and they weren’t. They don’t understand how the rejection process works. They assume if your book really was any good it would be picked up. But you and I both know, that isn’t how it works. So screw them all and publish your work and get better!