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I’m becoming increasingly committed to the idea of self-publishing my stories.
Not because I have anything against the publishers. I don’t. I know some self-publishers treat the mainstream publishing houses as the enemy. Not me.
I’m seeing many writers I know who’ve been working on their writing for about the same length of time as me (though probably working a lot harder than I have!) getting accepted at major romance publishers. I love sharing the excitement of their Call Stories and seeing their books on the shelf in shiny pretty covers. At one time, my biggest writing goal was to be published there too.
But it’s unlikely my stories will be accepted by a traditional publisher or a bigger e-publisher. They just don’t fit. Too long, too short, too sweet, too sexy, wrong country, hero not rich enough, pace not fast enough. I don’t naturally write stories that work for any of the publishers’ lines, and when I try the stories are unnatural and stilted. I twist them so much to fit what’s needed, and my writing isn’t authentic. Or even readable, at times, like my last story I mangled so badly to fit word count!
It would be lovely to get The Call, but I’m not sure keeping on trying will be worth it for me.
On the self-publishing side, there are the huge massively publicised success stories like John Locke (despite the recent controversy, he DID sell a lot of books to a lot of readers who love him – but this in no way condones faking reviews!), Amanda Hocking, and Fifty Shades. Plus, in romance, multiple NYT bestseller Bella Andre. There are also many, many poor quality self-published books which are unlikely to sell more than a handful of copies. Some are so bad the writers have trouble getting readers to take a free copy, the blurbs are warning enough (dear God, don’t let my books be in that category!) .
We hear less about the quietly successful self-publishers. The writers who keep steadily writing and releasing books and build up a readership over time. The writers who happily quit their Day Jobs thanks to self-publishing stories that have a reader base, but may not sell enough to attract a print publisher. These are the voices I want to listen to, and I want to track down. I’ve read and enjoyed many self-published books. Now I want to find the forums where the successful self-published writers hang out.
We need to each decide what “success” as a writer means for us. Is it a traditional contract? Is it ten five star reviews on Amazon? Is it selling so many thousand books? Is it being able to quit the Day Job? Is it getting emails from readers who loved our story?
If a writer really and truly knows only that traditional contract will do it for her, that’s where her efforts need to focus. But a good story well self-published can potentially achieve all the rest.
I need to earn some income from writing, AND I want as many happy readers as I can. Getting published traditionally is less important to me if I can have those two things. I’m thinking more and more lately that self-publishing may be right for me. Not as a way to get a traditional publishing contract, but as a end in itself.
The thought of being completely responsible for all aspects of the finished product is massively scary but also exhilarating. I’m 99% sure that’s where I’m headed.
I read articles like this report on self- publishing from the Romance Writers of America conference Published Author’s Network keynote speech. I feel like I might have a chance. Then I reality check myself by remembering that over half of self-published authors don’t even make $500 a year from their writing. Actually, the comments section of that Guardian article was more interesting than the article, despite the inevitable descent into arguments between commenters. And it appears the survet may not be that valid, according to Kristine Kathryn Rusch, though whether that means the average self-published writer earns more or less I’m not sure!
Anyway, I’m considering (again!) quitting the Day Job. The part time hours aren’t working out, it seems I have the same amount of work to do in half the time, and I’m increasingly unhappy there. The idea of not having any income is scary. But we can manage easily without digging too deep into savings, with a little frugality. I’m tired. I want a break. I want to be able to focus on writing. My job seems to eat half my brain even when I’m not at work. Life’s too short for this crap.
I also feel I need to spend more time with the mother-in-law. I cope with her better than my husband.
That’s the reason I’ll give my manager, anyway, if I do decide to resign!