Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why Did I Self-Publish?

"Why Self-Publish?" that's the question for tomorrow's blog carnival over at Dun Scaith. My answer is pretty simple:

Because it's fun.

That's really it. That's 90 percent of my reasoning right there.

I don't think it would be fun for most people. It's hard work, and no matter how much you know about marketing or art or layout or editing, you've got a lot to learn. And you're not going to make much money. Not unless you've got some leverage - like you can afford to pay a great cover artist and hire an editor, and you are just a natural at book publicity, and you have a whole bunch of books all ready to go which happen to be something a bunch of Kindle owners happen to be starved for.

The other ten percent of my reasoning is because in this publishing climate, I don't have a good reason not to. I like to write what I want to write (dangit!) and that is not always... commercial. I wrote the first Mick and Casey mystery quite a while ago. At the time, there was no chance at all of selling it to anyone.

"Nobody wants westerns."
"But it's really a cozy mystery."
"Ack, NOBODY wants cozy mysteries. They're too bland."
"But this one has gunfights in it."
(Blank stare.)
"And gunslingers playing with dolls!"
"Uh ... no. Thank you anyway."

Now, I knew that someday somebody would be interested, so I set it aside, and wrote some short stories on the series (and published them, and one got put forward for an Edgar). But because of the way traditional publishing works, I really didn't get the chance to properly follow up on Have Gun, Will Play.

See, in traditional publishing, you don't want to write a second book in a series until the first is sold. You can't submit that second book, so your best bet is to write a whole bunch of first books for different series. Maybe later, after you've sold one series, you might have a chance at selling some of the others. But without a bunch of first books, it's hard to break in. Lots different first books give you a shot at hitting a flavor of the month. Second and third books are just not in the game.

And that is because of the downside of traditional publishing; a book has to support not only the author, but all the people who work for the publisher and the distributor and the bookseller, and the shippers and printer and paper makers. They can't take a gamble on a mystery western until the audience is ready for it. They can't afford to slowly build an audience the way they once could.

But as an indie publisher, I can afford to take the time to build an audience for it. I can just go ahead and write it, and promote it, and write more.

And that's what it's all about.

(Be sure to check out all the other answers to the question at Dun Scaith's blog carnival tomorrow!)


Zoe Winters said...

Great post! I think it's easy in all the drama to forget the FUN of it.

Claire Farrell said...

It really is fun. Most of the time. :)

There's a market out there for almost anything, it's great being able to tap into that. Lots of indies have taken advantage of the markets that trad publishers have been ignoring.

Levi Montgomery said...

Have Gun, Will Play is now officially on my TBR list. Only one reason, really: Gunslingers that play with dolls? Gotta check that out.

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks for stopping by all!

(And Levi, yeah, after the reception the idea got, I didn't think to use it as a selling point again until recently.)

Ty said...

Gunslingers with dolls? Now that I'm going to have to add to my TBR pile.

I'm glad somebody in the carnival mentioned fun, because I neglected to, and we often forget how great it can be writing and publishing our own material.

Thanks for the post.

M.T. Murphy said...

Mystery? Gunfighters with dolls?

I would have sent you a $20k advance based only on the description above in the alternate bizarro universe where I am an agent who actually wants to find unique books that sound like fun.

I have two very raw short stories for free on smashwords about a gunfighter in the 1870s who just happens to be female ... and a werewolf. In the next few months, I'll take those down, polish them up, and release them with a novella based on the same character for a modest price.

This is why I absolutely love indie publishing. Writers have the freedom to stray from the beaten path without worrying about making enough to pay the overhead for the dozen layers of organizational structure between them and the reader.

I look forward to reading your work!

The Daring Novelist said...

Funny you mention the "if I were an agent" idea....

One of the things I always daydreamed about was being a publisher. I always thought that, if I were to become a best-selling author, I'd set up a publishing house for fun.

Scathach Publishing said...

I think you just made four sales on one blog post. Lol. You are definitely on my tbr list for once I get a kindle.

I'm glad its fun. My novella is due out as soon as the cover is sorted.

I can't wait.

The Daring Novelist said...

It's got me worried....

Sales on that book completely dried up today. Nary a one since I posted this. (I'm hoping they've all just downloaded the sample to buy for later.)

For those who don't use Kindle, you can also buy my books in many formats on Smashwords:

J.A. Marlow said...

What a great description for a novel. I definitely find it interesting!

Ahh, to write what we want. What a glorious idea. Think of all the neat books now out there and soon to be out there thanks to this choice. It will be great to have niche books out there as well as the creation of new niches.

Levi Montgomery said...

On the "If I were an agent/publisher..." line: I think that one of the waves that's going to knock those six fat guys out of their boat is co-op publishing, where a small group of committed indies get together to publish their own work. Those who are good at editing edit, while those who are good at cover art do that, and so forth.

I nominate Zoe for Marketer in Chief. :)

Levi Montgomery said...

"It's got me worried....

Sales on that book completely dried up today."

You sure? Better check again. :)

The Daring Novelist said...

Ha ha! A sale! A sale!

Thank you.

It is true that sales often have a delayed bounce for various reasons. I'm just glad so many people liked the concept.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I'm certainly with you on being able to "afford to take the time to build an audience...[one can] go ahead and write it, and promote it, and write more."

Less obstacles with indie publishing, IMHO ^^!