Sunday, March 20, 2011

Decisions, decisions.

I can see light at the end of the tunnel. There are less than 25 pages remaining until I finish editing my crime novel, MAJORING IN MURDER (btw, that's the working title. It could still change). I'm excited as hell because this means I am close to handing it over to my beta readers for their reactions/feedback. Of course, this is also a time of apprehension for me as a writer because it means I have to release my creation into the world to see if it has wings to fly.

In addition to finishing the editing process (well, the bulk of it anyway), I need to decide whether or not to query agents when the manuscript is complete or self-publish. Lately, I've been keeping up with the news about authors selling their books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc. and the perception of self-publishing is changing. In the past, self-publishing was equivalent to failure. It was the last resort of a desperate author who wanted their work in print. They had exhausted their list of agents and publishing houses only to face rejection after rejection. Considering a vanity press or P.O.D. publisher was to admit defeat, that your work wasn't considered commercially viable by industry professionals. Your writing talent was not validated.

It appears that those days are waning. One only needs to look at Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath to name two examples or authors who've been successful self-publishers. With the plethora of eReaders in readers' hands, eBooks are beginning to turn the tables in the publishing industry. No longer does an author need to convince an editor that their book is a mega bestseller that will benefit the publishing house with riches. There is no gate keeper who decides whether they think your book is commercially viable. I can't express enough just how subjective this industry is. Just because your work doesn't appeal to a few people doesn't necessarily mean that it will not appeal to a larger audience. Also, authors can make more money self-publishing because the split many eBook sellers offer are larger than those of the traditional publishing houses. Let's also not forget that the author maintains all rights to his/her work, not relinquishing them to a traditional publisher who can stop print runs of an author's back list when they feel it is not financially sound for the publisher. Self-publishing is free. All an author needs is a computer to create the electronic file, an internet connection to upload the work, and no limit to the number of copies sold. Ever.

Those are just some of the benefits of self-publishing. Some might say that with traditional publishers the author will receive help/funds marketing their work. This is not necessarily true. Unless you are already a best seller, the publisher will most likely not spend marketing dollars on your new book. They tend to spend that money on authors they know have a large fan base. This is almost unheard of for debut authors. These authors must market their books themselves in most cases. Also gone are the days of fat advances. There again, if you're a mega bestseller (ie - Stephen King, James Patterson, et al.) you can expect hefty advances because the publisher knows they will most likely earn that money (and much more) back.

So, with all of that being said, self-publishing is looking more and more appealing to me. Sure, I'd like to receive validation that my work is commercially acceptable, but why? If I might only receive 14% off the sales of my work and I have to do all the leg work to market my book, why not just self-publish it since I'd do that anyway and I could earn more money from each sale? To not do that seems ridiculous.

Of course, there is more research I need to do before I pinch my nose and jump into self-publishing. I've done some research already. Hence, where I pulled the above information. But, I want to be aware of any pitfalls and snafus that may arise. So far, however, there don't seem to be any real problems that I can find. The self-publishing world seems to be the wild, wild west where authors are releasing their work, marketing to reach their audience(s), and are reaping the rewards of the D.I.Y. novelist. I want to get in on the ground floor before the big publishers realize they are becoming obsolete and change the self-publishing world so they can still make money to pay their large staffs.

So, what do you think? Is self-publishing a current fad? Do you think it will change dramatically? If so, how long do you think it will last and how will it change? I welcome your comments.