Self publishing is an industry that is growing rapidly, from those printing companies who take care of all aspects of your book’s design, layout and printing, to Amazon, who allow you to whack pretty much anything on the Kindle store in a matter of seconds (even the instruction booklet to a very old toaster, disguised as a complex romance between man and sliced bread). It’s incredibly easy to do now, and negates a lot of the barriers that are still present in getting a book published via the traditional route.
I could have my novel, Politics in Blood, up for sale on the Kindle store in about ten minute’s time (if that), but I won’t. Why not?
It’s nothing personal
Or should that be impersonal? Either way, whilst I do find something dislikeable about self publishing, my more reasonable and objective side points out that I am perfectly fine with bands recording their own songs and posting them on Myspace or Facebook, and selling them through iTunes. I can’t really believe that is a fair and sensible thing to do for musicians, then say that authors should not be allowed to try the same thing. After all, some self published books sell hundreds of thousands of copies, and there are even a few self published millionaires. If the publishing world wouldn’t let them in, then obviously the publishing world was making a mistake.
Every time my book gets rejected, or people ask me how it’s coming along, they always tell me about this great new thing called self publishing (as though, as a writer who has been dreaming of getting published for about 8 years now, and has just finished a 3 year degree course in Creative Writing, I wouldn’t have known anyway).
“It’s brilliant,” they say. “You could put your book up on the Kindle store and sell it there.”
And I nod, and smile politely, and try in the nicest possible way to explain that A) I already know about self publishing, and B) I don’t want to.
See, I’m driven by achievement. I get fidgety if after a few weeks I don’t feel like I’ve done something of note, whether that’s complete a load of market research, get a short story published, save an orphan (this one has yet to happen, but it would still count) etc. To me, self publishing my novel is too easy. There aren’t enough barriers to get through. (Before any of you self publisheds jump up and start talking about making it sell well and doing all the marketing etcetera is in no way easy; hold on, I’ll come to that in a minute). My book needs to get published in a way that proves to me it is good; I need that validation otherwise I’ll never be happy. I have been writing versions of Politics in Blood for eight years now, since I was fourteen, and after all that hard work, to simply upload it to the Kindle store would be rather anticlimactic.
I don’t have the skills to make it a success
The other problem is that putting your ebook out there into the world is not enough. This is one of the biggest mistakes that self-published authors almost always make (if you look at Lulu or trawl through Amazon). They upload their book and then sit there, twiddling their thumbs, wondering why, seven months later, they’re still not a millionaire, and have only sold 4 copies (three of them to their pet cat). To be a successful self published author you have to be able to market yourself and your book and chase sales, not wait for them to happen (self publisheds, you can sit down now).
Eight years of my life went into Politics in Blood, and it would be enormously more crushing to whack it on Kindle and have it sit at the bottom of the charts, selling a copy a week, than it is to keep receiving rejections from publishers. People seem to think they’ve achieved something by putting their book out there, even if it sells nothing. Surely, all they have really done is swap one kind of failure (being rejected by publishers) for another (being rejected by readers)?
I don’t have the time or necessary marketing skills to make a self published Politics in Blood a success. I’m very happy with this blog and how it’s progressing, and very grateful to the 32 people who deem it worth following (thank you, you guys. Also, those who aren’t, the button’s at the top right of the adjacent column ), but it’s being going 8 months; if I was any good at marketing/had the time, I’d have hundreds of followers and thousands of hits. I just haven’t learned those skills yet.
It’s not you, it’s me
As I say, it’s a very personal reason why I don’t want to self publish Politics in Blood. Like any industry, medium or genre, self publishing is a sea of rubbish in which some pieces of pure gold struggle to get to the surface. It’s the same with music, film, television, fruit. I don’t believe I have the marketing skills to make Politics in Blood shine (or float, for that matter), even if the Beta feedback I’ve had so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and I strongly believe in the novel.
Besides, I may not have the skills to make self publishing work for me, but I’ve got the drive and tenacity to keep pounding at the gates of traditional publishing until someone lets me in. Self publishing isn’t for me. Maybe that’s because traditional publishing is?
Only time will tell…
What’s your view? Have you self published? Are you thinking about it?
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