. . . to publish independently!
As I mentioned in my previous post, my upcoming novel, The Cranbury Papermaker, will be independently published. That is, I’m publishing it myself rather than going through a traditional publishing company the way I have for all of my previous titles. To many readers, how a book is published isn’t really important as long as it’s easy to buy and isn’t filled with errors. But I did want to share some thoughts on a few differences and why I chose to branch out this way.
In the past, getting into the traditional market meant authors had to outshine and/or outlast a great number of others vying for relatively few publishing slots. We’re thrilled to be chosen, our passion for storytelling noticed and validated by industry professionals. Then we’re assigned to a team that helps make the story not only shine but we get to see our books packaged nicely, and delivered to a waiting audience reached mainly through established distribution channels (bookstores which carry that publisher’s titles).
At that point the author begins the nail-biting part of the process. There may only be one name on the cover, but it’s not just one person on the line. Editors cheer hard for the projects they’ve adopted, and so does the cover designer, the marketing staff, PR, the publisher overseeing the projects holding their house insignia, the sales staff that works for the widest distribution and others behind the scenes like media personnel and warehouse staff. We all look good when sales soar. To some extent, members of the team bite their nails, too, because a winner makes everyone look good—and a string of tanking books may mean the end of a job.
The traditional publishing world as described is still there, but the industry has changed a lot in the last few years—due mostly to advanced technology like e-book readers (i.e. the Kindle) and how books are delivered. Traditional publishers used to be the only way to get a book to market—through brick-and-mortar stores. But with the Internet delivering books directly to the reading public in old and and new forms, traditional publishers have competition they never had in the past.
Nearly every author is feeling the upheaval. How it settles, whenever that happens, is anyone’s guess. One thing is certain: the old days where publishing houses alone determine which stories reach the reading public are gone. People are still buying and reading, but not necessarily traditionally published books. That means it’s even harder to get in, then stay in, the traditional market.
While I’ll continue to sell books traditionally like my two novellas that are being released this summer, I can already taste the freedom that comes with publishing on my own. Being part of the team I described above is great, but it has a few drawbacks. Waiting what seems an extraordinary amount of time for a place in the lineup of other books the publisher is releasing. Worries over how an agent, editor, publisher and the rest will be disappointed if sales don’t soar through the roof. Independent publishing is truly that—independent. No worries about meeting expectations apart from my own. No worries about comparison in an industry that is as competitive as you want it to be, not as defined by the rest of the traditional world.
For many of my fellow authors, taking control of both the creative and the business end of publishing is exciting. They count themselves blessed to be a writer in this era, when we can bypass publishing gatekeepers. Independent publishing is not only more affordable than ever, the tools to succeed are as near as your computer. Besides all that, the author maintains control over things like content, cover, release date, marketing and price.
But the nuts and bolts of independent publishing come with challenges, too.
When I first considered self-publishing, the control I described above seemed more overwhelming than exciting. I don’t consider myself especially entrepreneurial. In fact, the business end of writing is something I’d prefer to ignore. What do I know about designing a cover? And I may love to write, but putting together an effective blurb – the teaser on the back cover or the book description online – falls under marketing, not your typical storytelling.
Finishing a story without an “official” deadline, without an editor to encourage you along the way, or a team of experts collaborating on cover, interior design, and making sure all the “t’s are crossed the i’s are dotted”, leaves the author pretty much on his or her own. Accountability to oneself is actually a challenge I was warned about before jumping in.
Self-publishing offers authors the freedom to write whatever they wish, but the market is free to ignore any product it’s not interested in. Publishers are constantly tuned in to meeting the market demands. Lucky for me I write romantic books, so I didn’t have to do a lot of market research into a genre I already enjoy as one of many readers.
Surprisingly enough, getting my feet wet in this venture has been easier than I expected. Assembling a team to help with things I can’t do on my own was as simple as asking for a little help from my friends. But I do know this: whether my first independent book soars or sinks, I’ll be the only nail-biter in the bunch. There’s something to be said about that.
So here I am, releasing a book that I had total control over. Not having the extensive team around me that I’ve so appreciated in the past is a little like stepping outside in my skivvies, but then, change often feels that way, doesn’t it?
The Cranbury Papermaker is now available as an e-book through Amazon and will soon be available in print as well—hopefully by the end of March. It should also be coming up on Barnes and Noble for Nook readers, but I don’t yet have a link for that.
I hope you’ll enjoy the story, this first effort of my own doing!
E-book price: $4.49
Print price: TBD
Pages: 334 (print version)