Lately, I’ve been bandying around the idea of self-publishing my first novel. It’s been a work in progress for almost five years now and I’m at the point where I believe that the characters, the world, and the verve within me to keep supporting the book has come to a near close. Don’t get me wrong, I love the book. In fact, I’m sure many new novelists feel about their books the way new parents feel about their kids: protective, supportive, nurturing, and pretty damn certain that there’s is the most wonderful kid that ever walked the earth (I’m not ego-centric enough to believe that last about this novel, but I do think it’s good).
As you may have guessed, there’s a very serious debate in the publishing world regarding this move. Really quickly, the “success” model is: write the best book you can, find an established agent to represent it to major publishers, then sign a contract with same for a decent advance and a the big house’s commitment to market the book so you’ll make more money. Sounds like a pretty direct route right? Ahem, let me enlighten you.
First of all, the mainstream publishing world is in the eye of a maelstrom that combines damages from their short-sightedness, a bad economy, and a public’s growing interest in the quick and cheap promises of ebooks. All these things have left the mainstream world reeling and limited their ability to financially support a good crop of mid-list authors. To be a success in the current model, you have to already be a success. In other words, as a genre writer, you really need to be a package deal with an established readership and good track record of sales before they’ll really start to consider your book. No matter HOW good it is. Now, of course, this is a generalization, but the overall idea has been confirmed by many, many channels in the literary world.
Publisher’s just can’t afford to pay for maybes anymore, and maybes are all a new author can bring to the table. If you pick apart that idea, you start to see the Catch-22. You have to BE a success before given a chance to BECOME a success. Come again? Yeah, how’s that for a crap deal?
There are authors, agents and publishers who say that self-publishing is a bad idea because, A) there’s an endemic belief that if your book was not successful enough to get offered representation by an agent, it just wasn’t that good, B) if you self-publish, publishing houses won’t take you seriously later on, and C) you won’t make as much money self-pubbing as going the traditional route.
Tomorrow, I’ll follow up on those three ideas and share my thoughts on why they just aren’t altogether true.
What about the rest of my writer buddies? Any thoughts or ideas on this subject?
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