Monday, May 7, 2012

Why do so many hate self-published books?

I made the comment recently that it never occurred to me when I got published how many people would hate me for it. While that's true, it also never occurred to me how many people absolutely hate self-published books.  I knew that in the past (many years ago) being self-published was a bad thing for your credibility. For one thing, you had to PAY someone to publish your book. The way I see it, that is always a bad thing.

You may have heard me say before that I've always wanted to be a writer. It was one of those things I kept on the back-burner. I wrote stories for my own entertainment and knew one day that I would be able to entertain others. I had no doubt that it would happen. I didn't just believe in myself, I had faith in my abilities to do what was necessary. And when the time came, I taught myself the industry. I did massive amounts of research before submitting my first book. I also never once considered self-publishing.

I taught myself how to write query letters, what was and was not appropriate to say in one, etc. I researched which publishing houses might be interested in my type of book. I also was surprised to find that you didn't necessarily have to have an agent anymore. Now, before I say this I don't mean any disrespect to literary agents. From my experience if you can communicate well with others in a professional manner, understand contracts (or know someone who can and is willing to help), then you don't need an agent to get your books published. If you get a movie deal, that's another matter entirely. By all means, get an agent for that.

My point is, things had changed within the industry.

When I finally got cracking on my first novel, I found a publisher within 4 months. It seems unreal to think that this August will be 5 years since my first book, Red, was published.

When I got my first contract and told people the story would be released as an ebook first, everyone's response was a slack-jawed, "What?"

No one had even heard of an ebook before. Not around here anyway. Ha. Ha. Ha. I can't tell you how many times I had to explain to someone what an ebook was and half the time, they still didn't understand what I was saying. "You mean you can't go buy it in a store?"

Little did we know that in a short time ereaders would explode onto the market. What was once a niche market became pretty standard. Not only are most novels released in ebook now, but there are many different types and formats.

As I've been in this industry for nearly 5 years, I've learned a lot. In fact, I've learned more than I did in college. I'm really more of a hands-on kinda gal anyway.

I've learned that being traditionally published helps to gain you more exposure and the more the better. About 2 years ago, I was fortunate enough to begin working with THE biggest publisher of erotic romance ebooks, Ellora's Cave. Through their forums and discussions, and paying attention to my editor, I feel like I'm so much better than when I started this journey both as a writer and as a business woman.

Then, just when I thought I had everything down pretty well, self-publishing changed. Suddenly Amazon is allowing people to self-publish with them. And get this, IT DOESN'T COST ANYTHING. Wow. That didn't sound too bad. So, I checked into it further. If your book is priced at $2.99 or above, you can earn a 70% royalty. Plus, you will already be listed on the largest ebook retailer's site. (Amazon)

The more I looked into it, the more it sounded like a good idea. So, I wrote Frank and The Werewolf Tamer with the intention to self-publish it. I'd like to take a moment to clarify some misconceptions. I NEVER submitted Frank and The Werewolf Tamer ANYWHERE. It wasn't rejected by others and Amazon was NOT my last resort.

Lately I've been getting negative comments on my books, not about the books themselves, but about ME. Some jerk saying how I'm not good enough to be traditionally published and such. Obviously, they didn't bother to look at my backlist. This same person went so far as to say I was a liar for calling myself multi-published.

It was pretty obvious that this individual hates self-published books and perhaps me in particular. I have no idea why they would dislike either. I don't know them and self-publishing isn't the red-headed step child it used to be.

However, a quick glance at the Amazon forums will prove that not only do people hate self-published authors, but they don't understand the industry.

In a world where big names still rule to a certain extent, self-publishing is a great way to gain extra exposure for those already traditionally published. It's an opportunity to earn larger percentages of royalties and be able to offer readers a lower price. All of these reasons and more were why I decided to give it a try and I haven't been disappointed.

In fact, things went so well with Frank and The Werewolf Tamer that I decided to self-publish my backlist books as their contracts expire. Yet again, this is my CHOICE. I haven't been shopping them around and getting rejected. This was my decision and not a last resort.

I am sick to death of being attacked for self-publishing as if that's all I do. I'm published with three different houses. I also have no intention of turning my back on traditional publishing.

All of my books are professionally edited and well polished. I put a great deal of work into each story to be sure that when I present it to readers it's the best that it can be.

As long as your book is professionally edited, has a great cover, and a good blurb, people will notice it.

If people are reading your work and you are earning royalties, you ARE published.

I don't know why so many hate self-publishing, but they need to get over themselves. The industry is continuing to change and so should outdated views.


denthreekids said...

Thank you SO much for posting this. As I was working with my editor for my first and recent self published release, I had mentioned the dislike to self published authors. I am proud to have made such a big step in doing this on my "own" and feel even more accomplished than when I got my first two books contracted.

I think you're doing great and really...that dude needs to suck it!

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Thank you! LOL I also felt very accomplished when I put out my first self-published book. To have done so much work myself made me feel very good about what I was doing.

Laurie said...

Well-thought out post Tracey....Don't let these "resistant to change" types get you down. I personally LOVE being able to read books from a variety of different self-pubbed authors. YOU keep right on doing what you're doing!

Gabriella Hewitt said...

It is a strange industry. So many "pubbed" authors are going indie and many "indie" authors are going pubbed. What is up and what is down? What is hot and what is not?

I think int he end those that produce good writing and persevere will end up comingout unscathed. as for hte ass that hates indie and talked smack, obviously is a frustrated writer with no talent, so he has nothing better to do than put someone with obvious talent down;)

J. Powell Ogden said...

Hi Tracey. Thanks for your thoughts. You're right, self-published authors already start out in a hole of skepticism about their talent. I went self-pub anyway with my novel, the guardian's playlist, and like you, it was my first choice. I liked the freedom to create it offered. I had my novel professionally edited for both content and typos before releasing it. I also gave the novel to teens to comment on. They fell in love with my characters, which made me love them all the more! Good luck to you.

J. Powell Ogden said...

Adding my link to the above comment...

Mockingbird said...

I avoid the forums. Forums have proved themselves to be places where the very maladjusted like to destroy people's peace. A year spent on Authonomy confirmed everything I had ever feared or believed about traditional publishing, and all the reasons why I don't get involved in forums. I decided absolutely and finally that I was going to self-publish. It is a brave new world out there, and there is going to be a lot of resistance, but keep going, you are doing all the right things.

Lynn Tyler said...

How lucky you were to have gotten in on both e-publishing and self-pubbing at the beginning!

I think you hit it on the head with the editing and cover art. All too often I have picked up a self-pubbed book that has been so poorly edited, I can't finish it.

However, the haters are just that...haters. It makes me wonder if they have tried and failed to get published and are taking out their frustrations on successful authors.

Tracey H. Kitts said...

I agree completely about the haters, there is way too much venom in their "reviews" to be directed at just one author or over one book. They must be taking out their frustrations on those who are successful.

While I do consider myself lucky (most of the time), I didn't get in on epublishing at the beginning. It's been around for at least 12 years and I've only been published for 5 (this August).

I jumped on to the Amazon self-pub options as soon as I heard about it, but there were lots ahead of me. :)

Until a few months ago, I had no experience in self-publishing at all. I've done a lot of research.

Stuart Vernon said...

I got a book published ages ago, I wrote it in 5 days and everyone said it was terrible. So I took it down and now I know how it works I am writing a book which I am taking my time on, a zombie novel.

I would love to read your stuff xx

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