4 Comments

  1. I enjoy your tweets and essays on the subject of self-publishing, as it’s been something that’s interested me for a long, long time. I got bit by a publisher when I was a teenager, and since then I’ve veered towards my own independence as a writer. I’ve also shied away from journalism and anything that pays, although this past year I’ve relented. I don’t know… I guess I’d rather write things I’m proud of and have no one or a few people read them, than sell out, as they say.

    I started Beatdom in 2007 and it’s still going strong. I had to make a publishing company to print it and after a while we moved into books. One book of poetry, one novel. Then when I finished my first novel (forgot to say, I used Lulu for one poetry book and one short story collection I wrote) I went through my own company. By this stage I’d actually sold half of it and it’s wasn’t MINE, but there you go. Half self-published, I guess. I got our editor to edit it and so I did lose some creative control, but kept more than I would’ve otherwise.

    Yup, Kindle changes it all. It’s actually turned Beatdom and Beatdom Books from a company that doesn’t lose too much cash, to a company that’s actually turning a little profit, and which I reckon will be my sole source of income within two years. Plus, thanks to my novel actually selling (which was a pleasant surprise) I now get paid to write “rants” for people. So I did sell out after not selling out! And it feels alright…

    Anyway, that’s my experience.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, David, and talking about Beatdom. It’s amazing how things evolve. I hope to have some news in a similar vein with regard to Exciting Press soon, but it occurred similarly. I made a publishing company for my collection, then used it for etc.

    Sounds like a relatively good experience. And you know, I think it’ll be great if more writers start having the experience.

  3. Will,

    I enjoy your tweets, column, and your new book–I’m a fan. The reasons you give above are great, especially your biggest reason is that it keeps you writing.

    You probably know I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece on how to get rich-rich-rich from self publishing (at http://redroom.com/member/christopher-meeks/blog/ten-simple-things-for-becoming-rich-rich-rich-in-self-publishing). The basic idea behind that came from seeing a lot of unhappy people who had self-published. My personal mantra has been to do what the big publshers do for books: a professional editor and proofreaders, a talented book designer, and a willingness to market. The truth is, very few people do that and very few people sell more than 50 to a hundred books (depending how many friends and family members they have). In short, they are probably telling themselves some of the things I enumerate.

    If a person is going to self-publish, he or she should ask, “Am I doing it because I hate rejection, but I still want people to find me?” People are not likely to find you–unless you’re particularly great at marketing and are patient and have time for it and are willing to take a lot of rejection.

    For instance, it’s difficult to get professional reviewers to review one’s book, so customer reviews are important and can be helpful. How do you find those people? Yet, customer reviews have their own problems, as you can see in this Huffington Post article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/indiereader/consumer-book-reviews_b_1129373.html

    Because I’d been a senior editor at a publishing house once, I decided to bring out my short story collections with the kind of attention to detail that I’d used at the company. Your books have had a similar attention to detail, and it’s a big reason to self-publish or go with a small publisher: i.e. if you’re obsessive and aim for quality, your books can come out the way you like. The other half of the equation is one needs to have an entrepreneurial spirit. That’s because doing it yourself comes with a number of challenges. People who don’t have this, I don’t recommend self-publishing. Find an agent who will do the work for you.

    Now that I’m publishing a couple of other people, I’m noticing how marketing has become exponentially more difficult in the last few months. For instance, the paranormal romance series by E. Van Lowe, the Falling Angels Saga, happens to be both dramatic and funny. After all, Van Lowe has been a big name in sitcoms and wrote and coproduced “The Cosby Show.” His last book, “Never Slow Dance with a Zombie,” sold 45,000 copies and was a Scholastic Book Club selection. Yet we’re still trying to find traction. I’m now selling the first book in the series, “Boyfriend From Hell” for 99 cents. My point is that even with a writer with a name, it’s difficult to get noticed with so many new books coming out every minute. There’s a lot to be said in having an agent who finds a big publisher who markets your book in a big way.

    Another article I recommend is this one from the Wall Street Journal a few days ago about the whole business and a new bestselling author, Darcie Chan: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052970204770404577082303350815824-lMyQjAxMTAxMDAwOTEwNDkyWj.html?mod=wsj_share_email.

    A longer, more detailed interview of Darcie is one I did at: http://redroom.com/member/christopher-meeks/blog/interview-with-best-selling-novelist-darcie-chan

    All in all, I admire your optimism and energy.

  4. Thanks, Chris. I’ve only recently become aware of Ms. Chan, but I’m glad I have. She strikes me as a writer more relevant to more people than, say, John Locke. Just the one book, well presented and well written, and what success she’s found.

    I agree with your tactic, there. Simply publishing the highest quality one can. Getting an editor. Etc. Me, personally, I’m a bit of an auto-didact–or at least like to imagine myself as one–so when there’s something new to learn, I tend to try. Get new software, learn it, apply it. Formatting for Kindle. Design. I’m pleased my sense of design and aesthetics is slowly improving.

    Anyway, nice to see you going so well. And yes, it’s always about marketing, no?

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