Allow me to add to the title of this blog. It should be, ‘Why you should NOT self Publish your first book … right away’
‘Right away’ being the key words here.
I have a friend who right now is going through the tedious content edits of his first book. I know they’re tedious, I did the first half. I left page after page of notes and suggestions. The book is very good and it has the makings of a really good seller. Anyhow, midst of the edits he is sending out queries to agents. A little ahead of the game, but ambitious is never a bad thing. When he told me this, I was like, “What the piss, Dude. Why would you go through all that, give fifteen percent of your ten percent when the world of digital editions is at your fingertips and easy …”
Ah, that’s the word … easy.
I’m from the old world of publishing, when self published or vanity held a stigma. It still kinda, sort of does, but it’s getting better. But I am also from the time when you worked so damned hard to get published, that you dropped to your knees in gratefulness over that acceptance letter and framed that first royalty check for $1.35.
I am fortunate enough to be in that percentage of indy authors who makes some money from their writing. Not as much as I would like, but a hell of a lot more than I did years ago. Heck, if I had a time machine and went back to show a present royalty statement to my past self as I read through rejections, past-me probably would tell me, “yeah, right’.
But I wouldn’t tell my past self that. In fact, I wouldn’t tell my past self about the opportunities in the future. Why? Because I wouldn't have worked so hard.
Yeah, I have some success, but I don’t measure my success by dollars, I measure it by the people I have enjoying my work. People are reading my stuff! That’s all I ever wanted. Really. Read it and like it.
I can say few have been rejected more than me. I said I’d quit when I had enough rejections (Books, poems, short stories, screenplays) to place one on each step of the Empire State Building. I didn’t quit, I just stopped counting … at 1172.
I have been rejected, told I sucked, told to give up, and even ridiculed for my genre of writing. But I didn’t give up. I was beaten many times, cried over it, but I kept writing.
I called them the ‘dreaded thumps’, when a publisher would ask to read the entire book. But when they rejected it and sent it back, it landed with a ‘thump’ on my porch.
I remember one day, my daughter, still a little girl and innocent said to me as she opened the door, “Mommy, another one of your books was rejected. It’s just laying there. Sad.”
That day forever stands in my mind, because I think that day I felt as if I looked so pathetic to my own kids. Did I suck so badly that no one wanted to take a chance on my work.
Someone did, it wasn’t the best opportunity but it was an opportunity. Then another took a chance. But after years of zero royalties, I took that chance on Kindle.
Again, I’m doing okay, my works is out there, but I appreciate it more than anyone knows. Each time a stranger emails me to say they enjoyed my work or a regular reader compliments, it means the world, I’m doing what I was mean to do. I’m doing what I love to do. I am a writer. But without that long road, that hard road of rejection and self doubt, self publishing would have been too easy and I wouldn’t have appreciation for what I have, I would probably be greedy for more. Make sense?
So, no. Do not self publish your first book right away. Submit, query and send to anyone that you think may be interested in your work. If you get rejected, embrace it. After you feel like you are a complete failure and no one wants to publish you … submit again. Hey, you may strike gold. Pick a magic number. Carrie was rejected 120 times. One you hit your magic number, and you absolutely feel you have exhausted all avenues, then self publish. And it will be worth it. For most of us, I honestly believe the rewards in the literary world match the road you have taken to get there. For some the rewards are financial, for others, like me, it’s people reading and enjoying their work.
Appreciation is the operative term here. Self publishing is too easy today. And true appreciation doesn’t come when rewards are easy.