Tuesday, January 10, 2012

well, guess what?

Previously I wrote about being rejected in my hunt for an agent. Well, it's still going on. However, I am also still receiving somewhat positive feedback. To hear them tell it, somewhere out there is an agent who will like my book well enough to fight for it in the never-ending battle of "Publish Me First!" 

Sigh. It gets tiring.

Who amongst us has not heard of self-publishing? Raise your hands. We've pretty  much all heard of it. We've wondered if it's for us. And if so when? or, even more important, when NOT?
I've read comments and posts about it from other writers. Part of what makes sense right now, with the way things are in publishing, is that you get much higher pay from self-publishing.  Make that a much higher rate of pay. It's why many established authors are resurrecting their out-of-print books and making them into ebooks. An ebook costs little (or even nothing) to produce, is no harder to promote than a print book (some would say it is easier), and it never 'goes out of print'. It also can earn you more money while costing the customer less.

However, established authors have their reputations and a proven product. What about your new, unpublished manuscript? Doesn't it mean, if your book isn't being picked up, that it's not good enough? And If your book isn't good enough, and doesn't make the numbers, then it still won't make much money. So now where do you stand?

Not being picked up doesn't necessarily mean your book is no good. With the competition for everyone's dollar what it is today, a lot of good books are going unpublished. No one can afford to take the risk of spending oodles of money publishing an unknown quantity. They want guarantees of what they perceive will be blockbusters or best sellers. Being 'good' might not be good enough. 
Skipping to the meat of what I want to share: self-publishing can be expensive. After all, if the publishers are afraid to risk big bucks, who of us authors can afford to? Yet, self-publishing has a long history, right back to the cherished 'monographs' of esoteric writers in Europe (and further back, I'm sure.) Back then, of course,  it cost far fewer dollars to publish.  Still, most of those authors didn't make a great deal of money, either. 

Lucky us, modern technology is our side -- if only we  know how to work it. And so, I bring to your attention, Smashwords. At Smashwords you create your own ebook, with their guidance, and you offer it for sale through their distributors. These distributors include Smashwords itself and, depending on your willingness to work at jumping through a few formatting hoops, venues like Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Barnes & Noble.

Smashwords is where I've gone to publish a mystery I wrote a few years back that had a -- horrendously -- brief publishing record. I wanted to bring it out again in part, because I want to follow it up with at least two sequels. Following the site's formatting guide, I converted my MS Word manuscript into an epub format. Now my book (Where the Bodies Lie Buried, see sidebar) is available at all the possible venues. It's up to me to promote it. But, you know? You have to do that with a traditional publisher, too.

There are other sites which follow similar models -- I'll check out more next time -- but I'm pleased with Smashwords so far. I'm a do-it-yourself kind of person anyway, and that has appealed to me. 

I'm still pursuing traditional publishers for some of my work, but I'm giving this a shot, too. Lots of people work several jobs. Lots of artists pursue different styles and media. I'm pursuing different means of getting my work to the public. And most of all...I'm not giving up.