Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I self-publish because I CHOOSE to, not because I HAVE to

Obviously, by the title of my post you can tell that I am aggravated. I am so sick of people assuming that I self-publish because no one would publish my fiction. That is bullshit. Okay, does that clear it up? I'm also sick of those who see I have a few self-pub titles out and decide to send me spam trying to get me to use their rip-off publishing services. I am NOT interested.

Ever since I started self-publishing my backlist titles (along with a few new books), I've been getting spam and insults. What the heck?

I've gotten everything from people wanting to charge me to have my books in print to others slamming me because they think I just "decided" that I could write and started putting out books. What jackasses, all of them.

In case it isn't already clear, I will explain how I came to this decision. And yes, it was MY decision to self-publish, not a last resort after years of rejection. In fact, I never suffered years of rejection. It only took me a few months to find my first publisher.

I was traditionally published for 5 years before I made the leap to produce my first self-published title. This was not a decision I came to lightly. I researched this for quite some time before deciding to give it a try.

Why did I look into self-publishing in the first place? Well, the major thing was I wasn't making enough money to live. My books were selling fairly well, but my cut of the royalties was barely enough to pay my light bill. Yes, I do this for a living, so that was a major factor. Of course I love what I do, but that doesn't mean I can afford to do it for free. 

The second reason? Complete creative control was a thought that made me almost high with anticipation. To be able to tell the story that I want to tell regardless of "formula" was an exciting thought. However, that should not suggest that my stories are not edited. That's another HUGE misconception when it comes to self-published books. Not all are created equal. My books are thoroughly edited by myself at least four times before being sent to my writing partner/editor. She helps me check for plot holes as well as grammar and misspelled words. She is also highly qualified to do this. Though I consider her family, I didn't just pick my best friend to help me. If something doesn't sound right or is obviously wrong, she tells me. And I don't take it personally because I trust her. We work very well together.

So far I have only gotten one presumptuous email from another writer who thought one of my books was poorly edited. I looked it over again and found nothing wrong. Different editors ask for different things when it comes to sentence structure. That doesn't mean one way is right or wrong. If you want to use a semi-colon, go ahead. But most of my editors have asked that I use a comma instead. Oh, and just because you wrote a comic book, that doesn't qualify you to judge my novel.

I also do my own cover art. I hear lots of people getting slammed for this. I'm not just a cheap-ass author who doesn't want to pay a professional to do my covers. I AM a professional. So, why hire someone else to do what I can do at a fraction of the cost? I've been an avid reader almost as long as I've been an artist. I have faith in my abilities to create a cover that is visually pleasing as well as conveys the basic meaning of the story. I take pride and pleasure in being able to do this for myself.

After my first self-published title (Frank and The Werewolf Tamer) was received so well, I decided to self-publish my backlist titles. That's right, I DECIDED to do this. It wasn't forced on me. None of the books I have now self-published were rejected by ANY major (or small) publisher. I chose not to renew my contracts and to put the books back out on my own.

I've spent much of the past year working on this project. If anyone was wondering, this is why I haven't been releasing any new books. I've been working on re-editing, expanding, and re-releasing my backlist titles that are now coming off contract. This takes quite a bit of time and effort. It's as if I'm having to catch up on 5 years of work all at once.

My point is this was my choice and one that is so far working out very well. I was published with 3 different houses before I made this choice, and I still work with Ellora's Cave. I see no reason to burn bridges with a company what has treated me very well. I plan to continue to work with EC as well as to self-publish many more titles. Why? Because being published with them is helping new readers to find my work. It's all about marketing. Everything I do (with regards to my writing) is a business decision. Sure, I have strong feelings about some things, but my feelings are not what dominates my choices.

I hope this clears up any confusion. I earn 70% from Amazon sales as compared to 30-40% from an epublisher. (That's just a rough estimate based on my experience.) My books are also listed on Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and just about anywhere else you can think of. I do this all myself. It isn't difficult, so I can't see paying someone to do it for me. This way, if something is incorrect, I can fix it on my own. I keep track of sales quickly and easily, so I know what my paycheck is going to be for the next month. I don't have to wait for a statement.

Self-publishing is convenient and profitable. Yes, there's a lot of work involved, but I love what I do. Why shouldn't I be able to make a living at it? I'm not rich by any means, but thanks to the higher percentages of self-pub sales, I can actually pay my bills.

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