Tuesday, October 4

Self-Publish? Me?

My stack of finished, but unsold manuscripts remind me a bit of theses leaves--dead and pretty much useless at this point.

Because I have focused on Harlequin lines for so long with their stringent word counts, I don't have a whole lot of other options for the stories they didn't want.

Until now!

I can self pub them.

I know, I know. Only losers self-pub. Those who aren't good enough.

In a word, baloney.

The romance market is glutted. I personally have a dozen CPs, anyone of whom is good enough to be published by the Big Six, and a couple of them are.

But a whole bunch of those very talented CPs aren't published. And they should be.

Published doesn't automatically mean good anymore. Published doesn't mean diddly. You can pick up a book from a small e-pub that's just awful and you can pick up a book from one of the big houses that's horrible, too. Of course the opposite is true, too.

Self-pubbing gives those manuscripts, which are good, but unsold, a place.

I've always been dead-set against self-publishing. I've always been dead-set against e-pubbling. Not that their the same, they aren't.

But I'm coming around.

For that stack of manuscripts that sit under my bed, with no future but the burn pit, maybe self-publishing them is the way to go. If only one person not related to me or a crit partner would read them, that would feel good.

I wouldn't feel like a loser if that were to happen. It doesn't mean I'm less of a writer, or not good enough. It means that I am willing to take a risk that Harlequin wouldn't.

My friend, Trish McCallan, is being brutally honest about the process. Check out her numbers, stats and all other things of interest to self-pubishing here... http://stumblingthroughself-publishing.blogspot.com/

Do you feel that self-publishing is a mistake? Only for the people who can't write? Or do you feel it's a viable option for your unsold work?


  1. Since I'm in the process of doing the self-publishing thing--No!

  2. Awesome blog D'Ann! You're writing is terrific, as is a lot of writer's work I've read over the last couple of years. Yet they remain unpubbed.

    I don't see anything wrong with epublishing, and self publishing, and at the same time still trying for one of the Big Six.

    Why not have your hands in as many areas as you can? Why not get your name out there in many different avenues?

    What's that saying about putting all your eggs in one basket?

  3. D'Ann, I now have four books I've self-published. I only wish this option had been available years ago. HQ saying no doesn't mean the story isn't well written. It just means it doesn't fit THEIR needs. Now, there's a place to sell those stories. I'm so glad I decided to self-publish. No, I'm not getting rich, but my stories are being read. And in the end, isn't that what this writing thing is all about?

  4. With all the options out there, the BIG six no longer holds an interest for me. Yeah it would be great have your website/blog say "NY best seller..." But is it worth all the rejections in the process? It's a gamble no matter what you do. It's kind of like submitting and waiting for someone to tell you, you are good enough.

    That's just my opinion. I have thought about self-pubbing. In fact I am prepared to do so. But I did recently submitt to two ePubs and now waiting for "the call". But I will not spend years hoping that one editor loves my work enough to take the risk.

    I'm not sure how long I'll play the waiting game, but I do know that Self-pubbing is always another opition.

    Does that mean I'm not good enough? No, It means I want to share the story that every CP (both published and unpublished) has read and said they loved it.

    It is a risk I will take. There are a lot of successful self-pubbers out there. Besides, what is the worst that could happen? The book bombs and I'll have to change my pen name and try again. :)

    Great post, D'Ann. Wish you luck in whatever route you take.

  5. I'd love to try self-publishing. I have a novella that I don't have a clue where to send it, so I was thinking self-pub. Maybe I'll get around to it one of these days. But I'd buy your stuff in a heartbeat whether it was Harlequin published or self-pubbed!

  6. Great post, D'Ann, you ask some tough questions. I think with the market writers are forced to re-evaluate their dreams and what it means to be published. You've given me much to think about :) And your stories are good enough, maybe you just have to push your way through the door by self or e-pubbing!

  7. Great post, D'Ann! I'm a firm believer that self-publishing or publishing with a small press isn't wrong as long as you can turn out a quality product. Good editing and cover art is a must. I think that's where a lot of self-publishers fall short.

    Also, I think traditional publishing is getting harder to break into. The market is changing and trad. publishers are floundering. I don't see them as willing to take chances (unless they've opened up digital-only imprints).

    Personally, I love the option of self-publishing. In fact, I self-published a short story that is leaving my small-press-pubbed works in the dust. I don't mind sharing some of my results. In exactly one month, over 300 ebooks of my short were bought on Amazon alone. And it's been off and on three of Amazon's top-100 lists.

    I can't fault those results, so I'll probably self-publish my full-length works, too. As a new author, I can't see people paying $5.99 or up, which is what a small press would charge. But if I self-pub, I can price my novel at $2.99 or 3.99 and still make as much as or more off each book than what I would with a small press.

  8. Great words D'Ann. I've read some wonderful books that were self-pubbed and after checking on the author websites, I find the books I loved were rejected. Does that mean that my taste in books suck. I hope not.

    I know that while working on my current WIP I love the story and find myself looking forward to the next chapter. But again I've been rejected by publishers and agentsmore times than my heart can count.

    In short, I am going to take the self-publish road and hope it turns into a highway for me. I agree that if one person not related to me or a CP reads it and loves it than I will be doing a happy dance all over the house. As for the pricing options, I've read about free and even $.99 price market is flooded and may hurt rather than help your sales, so I am shooting for $1.99 or 2.49 with great cover art to catch the eye.

    Good luck in your ventures.

  9. Yep - My intention is to hop on the self-pub band wagon too. As long as I can ride it, I will.

    Cover Art is out there and cheap. Finding a good editor for a reasonable fee seems to be the hardest part. But even that is doable. E-publishing has done something that needed to get done. It's put the power of the words back in the hands of the people who care what they say more than how much money they can make. Can Someone say Hallelujah! God designed the ease of e-publishing because he is, afterall, an author.

  10. With the advent of e-published and the use of Kindles, Nooks, Kobos, the stigma initially attached to self-publishing has disappeared. If you are tech savvy, you can do it all yourself. I am unfortunately tech challenged in regard to self-publishing so I will not enter the arena. However, I see nothing wrong with it. The good thing is you control the pricing. The hard part is promotion and distribution. However, these days the big publishers don't outlay money for promotion anyway. Best of luck,

    Jacqueline Seewald
    THE TRUTH SLEUTH--ask for them at your local library

  11. Songwriter-musicians perform in public, artist exhibit their paintings, and filmmakers upload to YouTube, so why shouldn't writers self-publish electronically or via print-on-demand? I could offer some guesses why self-publishing is looked at differently, but I really, who cares?

    As long as authors are realistic about it, self-publishing ought to be considered just another form of artistic expression. There will always be authors (and painters and singer-songwriters and filmmakers) whose fan base is too small to interest a major publisher (or gallery or record label or studio) but who still enjoy the authors' work, and it's great that it's practical to do tiny print runs or distribute over the Internet. And sometimes it can make the fan base grow. It's happened with filmmakers and musicians and artists, so why not authors as well?

    Incidentally, isn't the vast majority of blogging a form of self-publishing?

  12. Hi Di Ann, As you probably know, I am a principal in a epub, Therefore, self publishing works against us. Nevertheless, I have some points to make. First of all, you are welcome to submit to us if you want. Second if you go the self publishing route, don't bother going print. Digital books are already outselling print on Amazon and there are three or four million print books on Amazon vs less than a million digital. Speaking from experience, print books don't sell. All they're good for is having copies to sell locally or give to friends.

    Having only critiqued one chapter of yours, I'm really not in a good position to judge whether you should self-pub. Some who self-pub do a good job and are ready. Some aren't and are rushing it. And some, frankly, should never publish. From what I remember, your chapter was pretty good so you might be in the former group.

    That said, is it to your advantage to do it? Here's where I can't help you. Publishing is a funny business. Even with six years of being published, I can't tell what will sell. I'm getting better at it, but it's still a crap shoot, only now I have house odds instead of gambler's.

    There's more I could say, but this post is already pretty long long. Write me if you have questions.


  13. No, I don't think it's the Loser Realm...I haven't ventured in to self-publishing yet but I'm definitely taking the temperature of the room.

    I've found a few really great self-pub authors, people who are now on my auto-buy list; I've been reintroduced to Big-Six-Pubbed authors backlists. I've also found some clunkers, but then, I've done the same thing at Barnes & Noble.

  14. I was just going to share Trish's link! Awesome.

    I for one want to do it all. Crazy but it's just what I feel in my heart:)

    Great post, D.

  15. With the Kindle's price going down where people can afford to buy them, more and more readers are going to want to read.

    I love mine and take it with me whenever I have to wait for something...it's better than dragging several books along with you, and there is always something to read or purchase on the fly.

    I jumped on the indie author train and it's quite exciting. Welcome aboard.

    And if someone has a short story, what's stopping you from self-publishing. If I can do Smashwords and Kindle, anyone can.

  16. D'Ann-It's so funny you say that, but I've felt the same way regarding self publishing and e-books but I"m going to do the same. I'll start with the small presses like Samhain and Entangled. If they don't want me, I'm going self pub!!!

  17. Sometimes it seems like a publishing career is more about changing dreams than it is about having them come true. In the beginning, you write a story and dream of being a bestseller. Then you meet CPs, who let you know your story is good...but needs a lot of work. So you do the work, still dreaming about being a bestseller, or selling to HQN. Then you enter contests and query agents, and find out the story still isn't quite ready yet. So you keep trying, and dreaming... and in some cases, you change that dream and decide to either query a smaller publisher, or maybe self-publish. Neither is wrong, and really depends on your strengths. If you aren't sure you can A)Design an eyecatching cover B)Write good cover copy aka blurbs and C)Be a fantastic editor (I've got 7 books out, and edit professionally, and can tell you there is NO way I'd try to self-edit my books. It just wouldn't be good enough)or HIRE one, then going with a small pub is the way to go. Either way, you're going to do all the promo yourself.

    Am I sorry I didn't keep trying to land an agent or a contract with one of the Big 6? Hell no. I'd probably go back and contract with a digital publisher sooner, if I had to do it over.

  18. Wonderful post, D’Ann! I want it all, too!
    I want to be with a big house publisher and yet self-pub because of the control I would have in what I could write. This is such an exciting time for writers. In good and bad ways. I firmly believe anyone who is going to self-pub should get an editor and make sure the story is the best it can be. This is your reputation and will be with you always. However, people buy good books from good writers regardless of where they come from. I have tossed this idea around myself. Very interesting topic and I’m going to check at the site you recommended. Thanks!
    And you are a fantastic writer! The sky is the limit….

  19. D'Ann...

    I'm right there with you as far as my past perception of self-pubbing went--it meant "not good enough". E-pubbing to me wasn't the same. An editor still has to accept your work. But I'm, too, changing my ideas...and partly because of who is self-pubbing and what the end results are.

    Now, does that mean that every self-pubbed book out there should be pubbed...No. But there are hundreds of great writers (you among them) that just haven't hit the lottery yet. And that's what getting a contract with a NY publisher is like. The chances of winning the lottery is just as good, if not better then getting a contract these days!

    As you know I'm doing the e-press route, but if my longer books (Butterfly and the other books in the series) aren't picked up by a Big 6, I'm going to self-pub them. Or depending on my sales of my other two books (if they're epubbed), I'll submit them to epubs.

    Another writer who is doing extremely well with her historical novel is Amy Atwell...She's made the BN and Amazon top 100 best sellers list. This is with a book that was shopped by at least 2 agents and to every house in NY. But because it didn't fit into a nice neat box, no one would take a chance on it---even though they loved it!!

  20. D'Ann,

    I say, go for it! There's nothing saying that putting a few books out there by self pub that you won't score a contract somewhere else down the line. Readers want a good book- and lately it seems that if they are taking more chances on self published books than ever before. You have something going for you already- it will be easy for you to create a list of titles and get them out there. I've read many chapters and snippets of your works and you write a genre I enjoy very much. I think that readers will find a gem, or junk, in any form of publishing. I've read books that are "Bestsellers" that i didn't enjoy. I've read self published books that authors said have been rejected and wonder what is wrong with the publishers because these stories are good? But as we all know, it's one person's opinion. Self publishing gives you options, and control. I think the explosion of self publishing could be an eye opener to the Big NY publishers. Take a chance, you may be surprised and how it goes. Just my .02 worth.

  21. Hi, D'Ann. You know my views on epublishing and self-publishing by now. And I'm THRILLED that you're thinKing about it. Your work is a heck of a lot better than some published stuff I've read and I believe needs to sit on my Kindle rather than under your bed! I'm gearing up to self-pub a Christmas collection, just a small experiment before I go whole hog with a novel. But a lot of people have done very well with it.

    So many possibilities! And the more quality works self-pubbed, the less "stigma" will be attached to it.

    It's a Brave New World--make a grab for that ring!

  22. Times are a-changing, and so is the stigma. I've read that paper is OUT and ebooks are IN, it's the wave of the future. What is accepted traditionally today won't make print for 2 years. And who knows where the publishers will be by that time.

    You have plenty of friends who gone the route before you and are willing to help with their advice and knowledge.

    Go for it.

  23. Great post, D'Ann. I think it would be hard to denigrate what's working so well for so many people. For me, however, I'm just too lazy. That being said, I have a Precious Gems I own the rights to...

  24. Thank you, everyone, for coming by today, and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it so much!

  25. Thanks for the Shout-out D'Ann.

    I have too much to say to comment on this post. LOL- because there are a ton of things I want to bring up. I'm going to blog about this instead. Because I don't the space or time to say what I want to say.

    I will say that right now you have as much, if not more, of a chance of earning a "good" living through self-publishing, as you do through traditional. If anyone doesn't believe this- take a look at how many self published authors are on the Kindle hot #100.

    Once these two new kindles go on sale, ebooks will probably skyrocket.

    But with that said- there are ALOT of writers who are making NO money or next to NO money on their self-published books. You need to go into self-publishing with realistic expectations.

    I'll be doing a whole blog post on this. But the hard truth is some people will sell. And some won't.

  26. I've been successful with self-publishing, which I began a few years ago when I had a medical crisis and thought I was going to die unpublished. I got good peer editing, good cover art, and awesome reviews, and began attracting readers immediately.

    Ironically, my novels have become a series, and I haven't died yet. Since few trad publishers will pick up a series in the middle, I've continued doing the books myself, with readers always clamoring for the next novel.

    Now, through Smashwords and Kindle, I'm receiving a growing amount each month from ebook sales. No, it's not a million dollars, but each month's royalties are larger than before.

    I'm very satisfied with the route I've taken, because my core readers are repeat buyers, they tell friends, and word of mouth is the best sales tool ever. I don't leave it to chance, though, so I'm active on several social media outlets.

    Not bad for a "niche" market. You see, I'm a writer of novels about folks in the post-Civil War West. My brand is Westerns with Heart & Grit. Go for it, D'Ann!

    Writer in the Pines

  27. D'Ann, go for it. You may not remember this, but I remember the first time I met you on-line. You tore apart a chapter I submitted to RWC crit group (and I'm grateful, becuase it sucked). Then I read one of your chapters. It was from "Cowboys Baby" I immediately went to google and amazone to see where I could buy one of your books. I was floored when I found out you weren't pubbed. That chapter was better than a lot of pubbed stuff I've seen. I was so thrilled when you became one of my cp's(okay I did the snoopy dance). Your stories need to be read. Self pubbed doesn't mean loser. In your case, it means the big 6 didn't know a good thing when they saw it.