Picture it: Northern California, 2013. I’m a young woman, nearing thirty– I have all my life before me…
(click on images for credit)
The other day I found myself in a bit of a situation. I had just barely announced the release date for my upcoming contemporary romance, MARITAL BITCH when I was contacted by a writing site about a contest I had entered.
Back in December a writing website I frequent (okay, semi-frequent) held a contest for budding authors: post your six sentence pitch for the agents to review. Well, as time wore on I figured I hadn’t been chosen. No big thing. A few months back when I had been querying MARITAL BITCH to agents I had already heard it all:
- Thank you for your submission. However, at this time, we feel that finding a publisher for this particular title would be difficult.
- While I enjoyed the first three chapters, I am closing query submissions to contemporary romance in order to focus more heavily on paranormal romance and do not feel I would be right for this book.
- Thanks for thinking of me, but I didn’t connect with it.
- We appreciate your interest in us, but we have a line coming out this fall which feature story lines very similar to yours and are not seeking to add to the line at this time. Thank you.
And somewhere along the way I started to consider self-publishing more seriously. The more I thought about it, the more my vision for my books and my author brand evolved into something I hadn’t expected I would be comfortable with, much less be really excited about.
Here’s how I made my decision:
|Stuffs that floats in my head…||How I validate stuffs…||Score Card:|
|“I want to see my book in stores!”||Not always. Sure, if you score with the big six this is likely. But there are plenty of smaller presses who have lines which are sold entirely as ebooks.||Despite the decreasing possibility of seeing your book on a store shelf, the allure remains; and there’s no arguing the fact that self-publishing makes it more difficult for this to become a reality.
|“Oohhh, someone else to clean up my comma splices and other messy stuffs!”||Professional editing and formatting cannot be underrated in this process. Be honest with yourself—are you capable of learning how to format your book properly in order for it to be clean and sleek? What about editing?
While I know that I’m not a master of the English language, I’m confident enough in my ability to clean up the basics to go at it alone.
|As someone who is currently trudging through the murky waters of formatting, I can promise you that writing is the easiest part. Editing isn’t even half bad. It’s the formatting that will kill you because this task forces you to figure out how to do things in Microsoft Word you’ve never even heard of.
|“What do you mean by ‘I want you to cut that scene’?”||Sometimes, for various reasons, editors will ask an author to expound upon a scene or to cut another one. And hey, they’re the professional here, so they likely know what they’re doing. But that doesn’t mean that the author is always comfortable with the editor/agent’s vision or that it’s what’s best for the book. The politics of publishing is largely played out behind the scenes and most readers don’t care enough to look behind the curtain—they just want a good story!||I have read many amateur pieces and have seen stories go on for twice as long as they should have. I have seen quirky twists mid-book and random drama introduced for no good reason. Everyone needs a good beta/editor/friend to say “Hey Girl, you crazy” sometimes; and your agent/editor is often more experienced and knows what he/she’s talking about.
|“I had plans for 10 books, but was only contracted for 6. Sorry!”||It happens. A brilliant writer dreams up a 10-book series. They spent years of their life (what do you mean most books only take months???) working on the first book, send it off to an agent, get picked up, get published, and the world falls in love with their story.
That’s the end, right? Not for a series, it’s not. If the author and the publisher are unable to reach an agreement for the further publication of the series, the readers can be left with anything from an unfinished series (it happened to Sylvia Day) to a poorly-wrapped-up series.
I get to work at my pace, for my schedule, my way.
|I do, in-fact, have plans for THE BIRTHRIGHT SERIES to have 10 books. And in no uncertain terms will I risk being able to finish Eliza’s story just for the sake of going the traditional route. Her story means too much to me.
|“Just because you have Photoshop doesn’t mean you should use it.”||Graphic design is one of those things I’m mildly good at. As in, if I can learn it quickly I can do it, kind of thing. Actually, I’m minoring in visual communications. I just haven’t gotten to those classes yet. So really, I’m in no position to be designing a cover for my book.
A beautiful, professional-looking cover is priceless. Seriously.
|While I’m not in the position to do my own cover, I do have an amazing friend who is in the position to do it for me. And she has (cover reveal coming up next!) The good news is that even though some people don’t have access to up-and-coming designers who do stuff for free, covers aren’t all that expensive and you can even update the cover down the road if money is an issue.
|“Publicist? Yes please!”||Pardon me, I know laughing is rude. I just can’t help it.
Publicists are for super name authors, not fledgling wordsmiths like first-time novelists. So pack up those dreams of your and send them down the river. Whether you self-publish or not, you’re going to have to market your book. Anything else is unrealistic.
Point: It’s a wash.
|“I can’t self-publish. I don’t know what I’m doing.”||Well, did you know what you were doing the first time you tried to write a book? How about the first time you tried to drive a car? What about your first date?
Like anything in life, there’s a learning curve. Learn, learn, learn! Be the sponge you were as a child and you’ll do fine. Just soak up all the knowledge you can, be smart, patient, and keep your eye on the goal. But if you really don’t feel comfortable self-publishing, then don’t. Nobody is saying you have to or even that you should. Make the choice that’s best for you. Just know that if you self-publish it’s a lot of frickin’ work because you’re taking on the tasks of an entire professional team.
|I’m lazy. If I can avoid doing something, I will. But really, not knowing what I’m doing has never stopped me before.
|“I’m the most particular human being I have ever met. I don’t know if I could give up the control to someone else.”
|I am and I can’t. And for that reason and every reason above, I’m self-publishing.||
So, as you can see, I’ve let the agent who was interested in my book know that I was withdrawing my submission. I hate the idea that I might have wasted her time, but I have to do what’s best for me and for my career. And this is it: posting Golden Girls photos for the interwebz to see.
And MARITAL BITCH will release on Friday, January 25th, 2013 as planned. I’m excited, nervous, and frazzled all at the same time. Wish me luck?
RIP Estelle Getty.