|This picture is amazing.|
I never really considered self-publishing as a foothold into the publishing industry until a few years ago when I attended a conference seminar that was all about tips for self-publishing (mostly, how to market yourself because it's all on you, bro.) I originally took it as a filler, but it ended up being the most informative seminar I attended that whole day. Since then I've thought about it off and on in terms of my long term goals for writing, and within the past year decided it's probably the most feasible option for me. Of course, as a kid and as a teen, I had fantasies about mailing off my manuscript to some huge publisher and having the editor go "YES. THIS. FOREVER!" and still do in a tiny little part of my ego. But I am a huge realist, and in today's writing economy, the odds of me being picked up, even if a publisher does like my book, are slim to none. Mainstream publishing is a fickle thing: it's based around the current tastes of the public, including what is selling now and what the market wants to be selling. So unless you happen to writing exactly what's up and hip at the very moment, you can expect a swift rejection or the request for a multitude of changes (...If I hear "how about some vampires?" one more time...) that you probably don't want to make.
Self-publishing, which is also sometimes called "vanity" publishing, gets a lot of flack, and for semi-good reason. Basically, all it takes is money to get published, and then you can publish pretty much any dreck you want. But it has its logical merits as well. With most print on demand self-publishing, the author controls just about everything that goes on behind the production of the book, from cover to typos. It does not take fancy companies to register with the Library of Congress or ISBN, which actually done on one's own without even the self-publisher can be cheaper. And, most of all, the author retains all rights to the novel, including being able to have it published elsewhere later on if he/she so chooses.
It's pretty much all those things that attract me to self-publishing my first novel, if not more. I like control, especially over my creative endeavors. I've had cover patterns and ideas for my novels since I first came up with them that I would love to see brought to life, and, damnit, you bet your face I want to retain all the rights for as long as I can.
There is also the allure of building my own fanbase and gaining the support for my novels as they are, in case they are picked up by larger publishers one day. I am a stubborn woman. While I am definitely open to suggestions on ways to improve my novels, I do not appreciate being told to stick in a vampire because that's what sells (can you tell this has happened a lot?) I like the idea of building my own fanbase on the web to prove to any future publisher that my works can sell with the main plot and idea as is, structural edits aside. I've met quite a few successful authors (from my po-dunk community, even) who started off self-publishing and now enjoy a solid career with their homegrown fanbase. While I do not indulge in the delusion that that could be me tomorrow, it is comforting to know that it has worked for many others and I'm not just making up wild ideas about the process.
Money will be an issue up front, but I have spent more money on even more ridiculous endeavors. As it is I do not plan to do too many bells and whistles - the most extreme I'll probably get is hardcovers because hardcovers are cool. And as I said in my last entry, I really need something for me to save up for. This is as much about me fulfilling a goal and a dream as it is satisfying my silly ego.
The hardest part will be choosing which self-publisher to go with. Everyday I do more research, and it reminds me of when I was researching for the day job I have now - which company to apply to, who will give me the best deal/experience, etc. In the end I feel like I made the best possible choice there, so hopefully I can repeat that with publishing. I'm still looking for experiences from other authors who have self-published, mostly based on what companies they went with and the goods and bads they had. As I learned from researching my day job, it's easy to look things up on the internet - but you have no idea who is being paid off/sponsored/trolling/etc. Everything conflicts to both extremes, so I always prefer hearing from people I know exactly exist and are not being fed dollars into their pockets to say whatever.
As for actual writing, preliminary editing is still coming along, and the short story I've been promising is almost done. Thanks to all who have been and continue to support me in my writing endeavors - you have no idea how much it means to me.