Nearly three years ago, I self-published Lessons of Evil and Fun House Chronicles. Then I got an agent and turned the whole bloody mess over to her. That relationship is now over (more about that in an upcoming post but rest assured, nobody used a shiv or even unprintable names).
I’m back in the self-publishing world and am amazed at how it has grown. There are so many new Indy support companies that do the conversions from a word document to a Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc. format. That create the cover. That promote your book on Twitter, Facebook, website ads. That review ebooks. That try to find people to fund your project.
Of course, there is nearly always a fee. If you don’t pony up, then your sales will likely be lower than the Mariana Trench. Trust me, nobody will find your little novel and throw you a life vest (which is why I wear one). You will have to look for self-worth in artistic expression, not in sales. In other words, if you can’t reach your goal, change your goal. Then it’s not your fault.
If you’d like to make a buck as well, the self-publisher – like all new businesses – has a boatload of upfront costs. Or, if she does the marketing jobs herself, she probably won’t have much time left to write. That is fifty shades of disappointing to writers who’d rather sit in an enclosed space with fuzzy slippers and messy hair, dreaming up dragons and murders and future worlds than to hit the streets with our sandwich board signs and megaphones.
The writing career is a bellwether for the shift in getting words from one place to another. Indies make more money per book sold. Which is nice. But if you only sell three, then you’ve lost the gamble. At the moment, I’m losing. But I’m a tough old broad.
And, of course, readers are being re-trained just as writers are. I’m speaking now mostly of fiction readers.
Certainly ebooks are cheaper than print (or at least should be). Online sales are now mostly genre driven. This is tough on readers who like to read anything as long as it is good; we no longer shop by browsing. Now we click to waythefuckouttheredotcom and choose in an ever-narrowing funnel: “Today, I’m looking for fiction … romance … male/female … historical … Scottish … secret baby … happily ever after.” This funnel is running the wrong way, at least if you believe that reading should broaden your mind. It’s exactly right if you know just what you’re looking for.
Weigh in on this one if you like. How is the existence of electronic books changing your reading habits? Is it easier/harder to find a book you’ll enjoy for yourself or your kids? Is ‘genre’ shopping helping you since most of us don’t have time to browse? And are you happier now or not?
As always, I value your opinions. Well, most of you. Some of you are pretty spooky. You know who you are.