Q01: Initial Decision

(This question is part of a larger subseries called Perpetual WIPs: Self-Published Authors. For the remaining questions, see here.)

How did you come to the decision to self-publish, and what category/genre do/would you do it for?

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After a short round of querying agents and publishers, I decided to self-publish. My stories are a little on the niche side, so despite a bit of interest in the MS from trad publishing, I decided to go forward on my own. When a book doesn’t fit in a neat little box, it’s difficult to get an agent or editor on board if there’s no clear cut way to sell a story.

*

I came to the decision after having an agent sit on the project for almost a year. When she and I parted ways, no one else wanted to take it on—I heard several different reasons for those rejections, but not one of them claimed the writing wasn’t ready.

It was a horrible time for me. I’d written a few other things and none of them were getting much interest. I was depressed. I thought I’d “made it” when I signed with that first agent, but that turned out to not be the case, and I was bleeding belief and confidence.

In the end, I had a friend who had self-published the year before and was starting to see some pretty impressive success, so I decided I didn’t have anything to lose. I had a post-apocalyptic YA, which was pretty much over as far as traditional publishing was concerned. I figured, what could it hurt?

I self-publish YA science fiction and NA contemp romance, and would caution new authors that YA is a much harder sell in the self market.

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I am a romance/erotic romance novelist, and I self-publish all my work. Much as I love writing, this is first and foremost a business venture for me. I want writing to be my career, not just my hobby. I decided to self-publish after a fair amount of market research convinced me it was the best way to make a living with my work.

*

I heard a lot of people talking about marketing and what a publisher could do for you. So I wanted a baseline: how many books will sell based on discovery alone? I slapped covers on two of my novellas, did a little formatting, and threw them up there. No reviews, no promotion, nothing. The answer, by the way, is two sales a day across both novellas—but they weren’t evenly split. One barely sold any, and the other now forms the first installment of my largest selling series.

*

I self-publish contemporary NA romance, and I knew for about a year before I did that I wanted to. I already traditionally publish YA, and I’m happy with it, but I didn’t feel like traditional publishing was really offering enough to NA authors to justify the large percentage they receive. I wanted to control my own cover and pricing, I don’t think in-store placement is all that helpful, and I felt like I had a good enough social media platform to rival any publicity they could offer. Now that I’ve done it, I definitely have no regrets!

*

After speaking with several agents about offers of rep on my MS, and having reservations about what they could do for me and my work, I decided to self publish. I wanted to see how the process worked, what the challenges were, and if I was cut out for it. I published a YA sci-fi, but I think I would consider self-pubbing for almost any genre, except maybe MG.

*

I didn’t feel a drive to go with a large or small publishing house, but I did want to get my work out into the world and I felt that it was ready. I’m not sure if the genre had much to do with it (as I currently write fantasy and there seems to be a steady market for it), but mine is not high concept, and I felt that I was much more comfortable pitching it to readers myself than trying to find a place for it in the traditional market. Small scale appeals to me in much that I do, and my tendency toward that came into play as well.

*

I’d written a New Adult novel which, at the time, publishers weren’t touching with a ten foot pole. I knew the type of book I’d written – a steamy college romance – was doing very well for other self-publishers, so it was a natural choice.

*

I was actually with two small publishers, in situations which both ended up as… undesirable for me. The main issue was distribution, and when the time came around that I could actually get better distribution self-publishing, it became a choice of whether or not I wanted to give my book away and have it be unavailable in certain channels, or take the leap of faith into self-publishing.

Because my book was in a genre that was tailing off (Dystopian/Paranormal Romance), it was difficult to find representation. After a copious amount of thinking, I decided to take it out on my own, and I will never regret it. I will continue to self-pub most of my science fiction and horror writing. I think the market for sci-fi is great for self-pub.

*

I self-published because most of all while I did query this project, I wanted to work with an editor who would help me hone my craft. I came from a journalism background and fiction writing is truly a different beast. My novel is adult romance, but has a strong women’s fiction bent.

*

I decided to self-publish after my Young Adult novel on submission didn’t sell. The reasons the publishers gave for not buying it just didn’t add up to “not good enough,” and I just knew I had something worth sharing.

*

A few things led to the decision to self-publish my YA Fantasy:

1) While the manuscript generated some interest from agents and a small publisher, the reactions were mostly the same: they loved the premise, but they already had something too similar on their lists. Understandable.

2) I believed in this story so, so strongly, and I was determined to have it out in the world.

3) Impatience. I’ll fully admit that I wanted this book published sooner rather than later. (And for the record, this is NOT a valid reason to self-publish in my eyes. But hey, might as well be honest, right?)

*

I’d written seven books—YA and NA—and been in the query trenches for years. I knew my book had potential from the reception it got in querying. But I also knew that dystopian of any sort was a really hard sell. I set it aside and wrote a scifi and loved it, but the same thing was happening. Queries resulted in requests that didn’t go anywhere. I did a ton of research, and made a plan, and talked to my CPs and husband and friends and FINALLY decided that if I wanted the story to see the world, I’d be the one doing it.

And I believed in it enough that I was okay with that.

*

This is a complicated answer. I came to self-publish when I realized my relationship with my agent wasn’t working out. I thought I might try to find another agent, but I also knew that could take years. I saw the emerging New Adult market and knew that the Young Adult book I had on submissions would make a better New Adult book, so I revised it, edited it, and decided to self-publish and make a name for myself first before trying traditional publishing again. Had my book been picked up and kept YA, I might never have tried self-publishing. Who’s to know?

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1 thought on “Q01: Initial Decision”

  1. While I like the idea that these authors talk about how self-publishing has worked for them In their different genres, it would be a lot more helpful to know the logistics of how they self-published. None of these anecdotes go into detail for the reader of exactly how they accomplished their goals.

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