I suspect that this blog post will be unpopular. But, I also hope that it will spark conversation, because that’s why I am writing it. This is something I need to get off my chest.
Here’s the deal. I’ve been thinking about self publishing (specifically, publishing e-books) for some time now. I’ve weighed it vs. traditional publishing and seeing where I want to go with my writing carrer. I see writers I follow both on Twitter and Facebookk discuss the release of their latest book, and they’re referring to eBooks they self published. And what occurs to me is that they are getting their books out there. People are actually reading their stuff. And no one is reading mine. Because I’m still trying to get published the traditional way.
And let me first start off by stating why I want to be published the traditional way.
It’s pure go.
See, I want to be able to walk into a Barns and Noble and see my name on the spine of a paperback on that book shelf. And as far as I know of, no one that is self published get’s there. It’s been a dream of mine to get there for years now (true, it took me years to actually start doing something about it, but that’s a different blog post), and I not only find it hard to let go of, I don’t think I want to. I like the idea of being published traditionally.
And here’s where I start to get into some of my fears about eBooks.
Self published books, in my opinion, are, for lack of a better word, professional. These are professional writers. eBooks that have been self published are written by amitures.
Cue the hissing and throwing of things at this blog.
Listen, I know there are a lot of very talented self-published authors out there. Hell, I’m a Kindle owner, and am reading an eBook right now by Scott Siggler, who self-publishes all his stuff. I’ve also got a book written by someone I follow on Kindle, a free book that he’s putting out there as a gateway to his other stuff that cost money. I’m hoping it’s good enough to warrant spending said money on his stuff.
But the truth is, there’s a perception of amitureness in self-published eBooks. I’ve tried several books before finding Scott, and they were bad. Badly edited, badly formatted, no covers, etc. It left a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m discovering more and more that I’m not the only one with this perception.
So, a big fear here is that if I self publish, I have a huge perception image to overcome in order to convince everyone that my books are worth spending money.
Maybe this isn’t true. Maybe there’s a big enough eBook readership that knows there are plenty of good books out there that they are willing to risk a few bucks on an unknown, but for now, it feels like a huge mountain to climb.
Another fear I have is related to money.
If I want to climb that mountain and rise above the chaff, I need to make my book so polished that it shines like a new car. Or better still, a diamond. And that means making it look as professional as a traditionally published book. I would have to hire an editor and pay them to make my book look pretty. I would have to hire an artist to give my book a cover, preferably one that doesn’t only do the painting, but also one that does that cover design. I say this because I’ve tried my hand at cover art before, and let’s just say that I am not a graphic designer. And then there’s promotion.
That’s all a pretty significant outlay of my own cash before my book is even up for sale. What happens if the book doesn’t sell? I’m out some cash.
And that’s a real fear I have, to be out of cash.
And a final fear I have is that self-publishing will somehow prevent me from getting published the traditional way. I mean, can I pub self-published books in my bio? Should I? Will the perception I mentioned above leave the publisher/agent afraid to touch me with a 10 foot pole? I don’t know.
This is not to say that I don’t have fears about traditional publishing. I do, but they just don’t seem as insurmountable as these fears are.
All that said, I realize that these ARE fears, and as such, I shouldn’t let them blind me to the possibility of eBooks. I need to figure out how real these fears are, and are they truly as insurmountable as I believe them to be.
I’ve been thinking of taking a book that I wrote that I had no intention of getting published the traditional way, and putting it out there as an eBook to see how well it does and if this is a viable market. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s not good enough to get published traditionally. It is. It just wasn’t written for that purpose.
I am also taking an eBook plunge in another way. Some friends and I are working on an anthology that we plan to put up on the Kindle store. Maybe THAT’s a better test that self-publishing my other novel.
The point here is that there’s just a lot of stuff about eBook publishing that I just don’t know. And I guess until I do, these fears will continue to get in my way.
And so, I guess my next step is to do some serious research into self publishing eBooks, try to get some of my questions answered, and maybe find a way to test the waters.
Because the real truth is, I don’t want to let fear, any fear, from ruling my life.