I've been asked to write a blog post on my self-publishing journey, and, more importantly, on my decision to self-publish, why I chose to get out there in the wild wild publishing world on my own. I've written a bunch of posts on publishing before, like about self-publishing platforms (link), how donations make me more money than sales (link), how much it cost me to self-publish (link), and close to 20 posts more. They are all here (link). But I haven't really written in a single post as to why I have plunged deep into this scary thing called self-publishing. I'll attempt to explain.
I'm not very good at math. This is, like, funny and sad at the same time. And right now you're wondering, what the hell does this have to do anything with self-publishing? I'll explain. When I started out writing my first trilogy, I was all excited about it, and I was bravely telling everyone that of course it's not very good because it's my first one, but secretly having these dreams of becoming an instant best-seller (don't tell anyone I told you). The reality was very different. No, it didn't suck like I thought, people loved it and read it, are still reading it, in fact, but it also didn't become an overnight success, because that is a myth, there are usually years and years of work behind those, and I hardly have 2 years of writing full time under my belt. Anyway. Then, while still writing my trilogy, I was approached by three agents who all in the end turned me down. Now, the math part comes in. While in the middle of all this, I read many articles on traditional publishing and self-publishing, and money writers make, and how to price your books if you want to sell them well if you are publishing yourself and all that jazz. For example, Hugh Howey writers excellent posts on data, especially this latest one (link). Now, sadly, I'm not very good at this stuff. I mean, I read it, but it's hard for me to fully understand. So, instead of spending my time on trying to understand what I don't get (I mean, I do know that 2 + 2 = 4), I wanted to spend my time doing what I love doing and what I feel comfortable with, meaning, write. And the self-publishing journey offered me just that, this ability to simply write and not worry about choosing. Weird logic, eh? I know you're scratching your head now. I will explain further why.
I'm not very good at debates. There are these debates going on among writers about what should one do. The publishing industry is changing, everything is changing, oh, what should we do, what should we do? There are blog posts and forums and events and get togethers and writing groups and speakers presenting and stuff, and I'd rather sit at home and write. I know, such a hermit, it's terrible, but seriously, I don't have enough knowledge to have an informed opinion on any of this. I figure, with years of writing I will accumulate the knowledge and then I will have something to share, but not right now. Right now I need to learn how to write better, and that is only possible if I write a lot, every day. So. Instead of spending time to decide what to do, and since I would have to spend additional time trying to break through to traditional publishers, that is IF i decided to go that route, I chose to simply write. I don't go anywhere, well, hardly, only to the post office to ship my books. I try to avoid parties and any kinds of get togethers or debates, only coming out very rarely. In a way, this indecision sort of decided for me. I chose to write, simply write without doing anything else, and the only way to accomplish that was to self-publish. Yes, I know, those of you who are traditionally published, or have friends who are, are rolling your eyes now. It's like, what, is she nuts? Self-publishing takes so much time! Isn't it the opposite? Isn't the idea that traditional publishers do exactly that, take care of the publishing business and give you time to write? Yes. Of course. But you have to be noticed first, to be traditionally published, or get lucky. I happen to have no time right now to break through, and so I chose the other route, which, by the way, does that take all that much time.
I'm not very good at waiting. This is one of those things that I didn't understand until I had to start communicating with the agents. It took them weeks to get back to me, in one case 2 months. AND! People told me, that was faster than they have experienced! Wow. I mean, I can write a 1st draft of a novel in 6 weeks, and I'm thinking I'm slow, I need to speed up, to get to 4 weeks, and even 2 weeks eventually. I mean, the story is cooking in my head and I have to get it out while it's hot. Waiting so long for people to get back to me? And what about publishing times, this whole talk about it taking 1 to 2 years for the books to make it to the shelves? Forget it. I want to write as much as I can as fast as I can, and learn, get my books out, see people's reactions, learn, and move on. Yes, some people tell me I should have researched things better, like publishing a trilogy as three books at once and not spacing them out, or taking longer time to edit, or whatever. But it doesn't matter if my first books are perfect or not, I will write more, and those new ones will be better, and better, and better. It's only by writing a lot that I will master the craft. I don't want to be blocked. I don't want to wait for months for feedback from an editor and then doing changes on a story that is already stale to me. I want to move on. Since I started writing about 2 years ago, it was like somebody opened up a faucet in my brain, I have like 8 more novel ideas, and they all want out. I can barely type fast enough. And the only way for me to push out this many books this fast is to self-publish.
I'm very good at dreaming. That's all I love to do, sit and daydream, and write down what gets in my head, or read, and marvel at somebody else's story. I also love dreaming with other people, like, I love interacting with my readers, love hearing their feedback while I write, and that is not for everyone. I love the connection, I strive on it. For me to wait for a year to hear what people thought of my book would kill the buzz. The buzz is, I can bang out a 1st draft in a little over 1 month, post it on my site, and immediately get feedback, so that within 1 week I will have enough, and I can apply it in my 2nd draft, and so on. I will stop here, otherwise this post will grow into this 10 page long monster. My main motivation to self-publish is the story. If my story is good, it will reach people it needs to reach. If my story is not good, well, I need to write more to get better. How can I do it right now, with the resources and time that I have? Self-publish. I can keep dreaming up stories, keep writing them, keep sending them out into the world, because it's what I want to do, money aside, worries about people reading or not reading my stuff aside, is to be able to dream every day. I love it. Ive done it since I was little, and if I can somehow figure out a way to survive while having enough for rent and food, that's all I want to do, keep dreaming up stories.