I used to think of self-published authors as a small group of wild-eyed visionaries who kept their excess inventory on pallets in their garage and sold books from the trunk of their car. That was years ago and I was wrong.
Now with e-books and companies such as Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu, self-publishing is affordable, practical and increasingly popular. One of the savviest authors I know, Edie Ramer, is here today to give us the heads-up on self-publishing and her debut novel "Cattitude."
Edie is a foundering member of the blogs: Magical Musings http://magicalmusings.com/ and the Write Attitude http://www.writeattitude.net/. Her writing has won numerous awards. In the Wisconsin Romance Writers, Edie is both a friend and a mentor to many of us. I’m delighted to know her and I believe you’ll learn a lot from today's post. Here's her October message:
13 Reasons I Chose to Self-Publish -- and
Why Other Writers Might, Too
1. "Cattitude" had already been shopped around. I wrote "Cattitude" six years ago and had an agent, but he quit the business less than a year later. I had written a blurb on my old Website about "Cattitude" and people would e-mail me and ask when I was going to publish. So I knew this was a story people wanted to read. Plus, I’m a better writer now than I was six years ago. I kept most of the book as is, but with help from some beta readers (waving madly to Jody Wallace!), I made it a better book. It deserved to sell.
2. Self-publishing is empowering. More empowering than I expected. It’s like finally being old enough to drink and going to… oops, wrong analogy. Like finally getting out of prison… oops, wrong again. Like putting on the red shoes that belonged to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and realizing you had the power all along. No one is stopping you from getting your books published. It's like walking forever and then discovering that you have wings and can fly.
3. I’ve come so close to being published that my wings have been singed. I’ve won RWA contests for four different books. I’ve had short stories published in print books. I was a finalist in the American Title V contest with, "Dead People" (which should be online soon.) I’ve had close calls with other books. I’ve had -- count 'em -- four agents. And to top it off, in a review of "Cattitude," Jody Wallace recently praised my use of commas.
4. I write “different” books. I feel a bit like my heroine in the next book I’m self-publishing, the aforementioned "Dead People." Though I don’t talk to dead people like she does, I do feel a bit of an outsider. One of my beta readers for "Cattitude" said that she loved it but could see why it didn’t sell. It doesn’t fit into the genres, or even subgenres, and the agents/editors love to know where to position books. Yes, I know that many of you are thinking it’s shocking that there’s no genre for cat fiction. Obviously a big mistake, but so far that hasn’t happened. I could write to the current market, but I have a low threshold of boredom, and I like to write books that are a bit different. If the cat in "Cattitude" was a shifter, that might be more common. Instead, she changes bodies (or souls) with a woman on the run from a murderer. The cat’s soul is in the woman’s body, and the woman is running scared and hungry in the cat’s. (That’s my subplot, which I love almost as much as Belle the cat’s.)
5. The publishing industry is growing tighter. I know some midlist writers who consistently earn out their advance, yet their publishers are letting them go. A friend has done really well with her last book, but her publisher is giving her less money for her new contract. Less everything else, too. Publishers are running a bit scared and looking for the next BIG book. Try as I might, I’m not a BIG book writer. But I’m hoping I can be that little one who keeps growing and growing and growing. (I’m talking about my readers, not my weight!)
6. The stigma against self-publishing (or indie publishing) is pretty much gone. Part of the reason for the stigma was that people were paying to have their books published. We all know that money is supposed to go to the writer, not away from her. With digital publishing, that’s changed. Because a friend did my cover, I didn’t pay for my fabulous cover (though she’s working on my second cover now, and I’m insisting on paying her for it). Plus, I’ve had friends whose professional skills I trust read "Cattitude" for me (waving "hi" to Jody Wallace again), so I didn’t pay for editing services, either.
7. The money. If you sell your book for very reasonable prices on Amazon (I think between $2.99 and $9.99), you get 70% of every book sold. For Smashwords, it’s 85%. The other places vary. There's no way you’ll get that big of a percentage in print publishing. Yes, I know if a print publisher is behind you, you can get great placement in stores and they have other perks, too. And I hope you find a place like that. But if you don’t, you now have other options.. You can read more about the money part here. http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/09/ebook-pricing.html
8. Second chances – aka “other options.” There’s a story I’ve told on my own blog, about a man who walked down a street and fell into a hole. The next day the same thing happened. The third day he walked around it. It went like this for a while, and finally he got the brilliant idea of taking another route. It’s taken me much longer than that man to see that there’s another route. My dream was always to hold my book in my hand, and when I let go of the dream, that’s when those wings started to sprout on my back. I didn’t find the other route, I flew to it.
9. J.A. Konrath and Karen McQuestion. I’ve been reading Konrath’s blogs in which he’s been talking about how much money he’s making from his e-books. At first I thought, sure, he’s making money. He’s published in print. He has a following. But then he had Karen McQuestion as a guest last spring. She’d put her first e-book on Amazon less than a year previously, she’d been unpublished in fiction, yet she outsold Konrath. There went my excuse. After reading that, I emailed my CP, critique partner and told her I was going to self-publish "Cattitude." She told me to go for it.
10. Zoe Winters, role model. Zoe’s been a well-known indie writer for a couple years. We were friends before she put up her first novella, and I’ve watched her do really well with her three novellas (and soon a full-length book!). She’s given me a lot of great advice. In addition to being my role model, she’s my mentor.
11. I don’t want the day to come when I’d think “I wish I would have done that.” There’s a famous quote that Marlon Brando, playing an ex-boxer turned dockworker, said in the 1954 Oscar-winning movie, "On the Waterfront": “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody. ...” Unlike Brando’s character, I’m not letting anyone keep me out of the ring. I’m not going to be a “coulda been.”
12. "Cattitude" is just the first. I have other books that deserve to be read, too. The means are available, so I’d be a fool not to do this.
13. It gives me an excuse not to clean the house. My CP made booklets with the first two chapters, and I think seeing and holding the booklets made it seem real to my husband. He’s proud of me and he’s taken the booklets to work and a few other places. It’s very sweet.
Thanks to Brenda and the Underworld Diners for having me here. And extra thanks to Brenda for the great topic suggestion!
Are any of you thinking of putting your books on Amazon and the other sites? Even my published friends are putting up their backlist books. What about you?
Edie has graciously offered to give away a free e-copy of "Cattitude" to a lucky person commenting on her work and her counsel. I’m reading "Cattitude" and really enjoying it.