A StoryHack reader writes: What made you decide to self-publish instead of going the normal route?Â Can you really make money that way?
That’s a very good question. I did submit to one publisher, Permuted Press, during their open submission time. They are small and they only publish apocalyptic fiction. That was months and months ago. I eventually got impatient and figured they had no interest. So I decided to self-publish. Now, I shot myself in the foot a little, at least with Oasis, by self publishing. The guy from permuted press emailed me the very day Oasis went live on Amazon, telling me Oasis had made the first cut and they wanted a copy of the full manuscript. As things turned out, they weren’t interesting in taking a reprint right now so they passed on my book. Maybe they’ll be interested after I’ve finished the second book. You never know. So would they have published Oasis? Who knows. At least I know I’m good enough to pass round one.
Can you make money self publishing?
Sure. The problem is getting your work out there. You’ll make a higher percentage (depending of course on how you price things) by self-publishing, but you have a much harder time of getting your work in front of people. I set the price of Oasis to be what I thought was competitive for it’s market. For the quality of printing and everything, I may have been able to bump it up to $20, but I figured why push my luck? At $15, I can make about 3x for a sale on Amazon than I would for a retail sale after being published by Permuted. And I make a little more when I sell it through the createspace store.
Of course self-publishing means no advance check as well.
Do I expect to make real money from this? No. Writing is a hobby right now and if I work at it long enough, you never know, maybe I’ll get good enough to make a living at it. Actually, making a living is more a function of being popular than being good, but being good doesn’t hurt.
So if it isn’t for money, why did I self publish?
- Exposure – having my work in more places means more opportunity to get seen by people. If I can manage to get enough people to check me out, that means every time I seek “traditional” publishing, I’ll have a little (but getting bigger) built in audience. I think that’d look fairly attractive to a publisher.
- Speed – From my “doing the layout” to “available on Amazon” of Oasis was just under a month.
- Control – The cover ended up just how I wanted it, and for better or worse, the story was kept to what I thought it should be, not what an editor thought it should be.
- Closure – I’ve got a product declared “finished.” Emotionally I can move on to other stuff (sequels, other novels, etc.) without the nagging desire to go back and “fix” things.
- Guarantee – I knew I could definitely make it happen if I self published. No guarantees with a traditional publisher.
- Practice – It’s still just my first book. I hear most authors write 3 or 4 before they get published. Why let this one sit in on a shelf forever? It’s still a fun book, and I’ll get better and even more “traditionally publishable” with the next one. (& the next one)
- Cool factor – it’s neat to be able to hand somebody a copy and say “I wrote that.” It just makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Let’s be honest here, this should probably been #1.
And what if a publisher called tomorrow?
I’d still probably take whatever they offered. I view self-publishing as a good thing by itself, a way to better myself as an author and as a possible route to traditional publishing (by building audience).