Self-publishing involves a ton of hard graft – there is no mystery about this. Anyone who has ever researched the idea will understand that not only do you have to produce the book, you are also responsible for making sure that it is edited (professionally), the cover design is good enough to stand out from the crowd and that the technology is in place for it to be available in multiple formats. And that’s before you’ve even tried to sell one copy.
Some of you may remember that I self-published one book a long time ago under my pen name of Jade Reyner. I learned a huge amount during that period and now that my next book is approaching readiness, I find myself debating incessantly which path I should travel.
I, like many of you I am sure, covet the dream of that publishing deal – the one that sees my book in every store and on every bestseller list but I am realistic enough to know that such success only happens to the few. Moreover, I firmly believe that success in this industry is hugely influenced by luck and being in the right place at the right time.
If current thinking is to be believed – and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be – then traditional publishing does not offer the complete solution today that it perhaps did years ago. A recent article in Writing Magazine (Coping with change – WM Oct 2016) suggests that traditional publishing is all about numbers these days and unless the publishing house can see ‘bestseller’ in your work, your chances of clinching that deal are slim. In addition, it is my understanding that even with a traditional deal, there is still a huge amount of leg work to be done by the author. Which leads me back to self-publishing.
Marketing scares me. I am not that person who can sell ice to the eskimos, nor do I have a thick enough skin to knock on doors and have them slammed in my face. My only experiences with marketing to date have been in the form of party-planning endeavours, of which I have tried three. Each time my party sales were okay, but my ability to get parties was non-existent because I just couldn’t put myself out there and make that ‘cold’ phone call or knock on that unknown door. At the time I figured it was a failing of mine (and perhaps that is still the case), however, I have also come to realise that whilst I believed in the product I was selling, I don’t think I believed in it enough – and there’s the difference.
I believe in my writing. I believe that I have a story to tell and that I can tell it and I believe that I can appeal to readers. Positive feedback from my previous self-publishing days has backed this up as well as several comments in the here and now. So, what am I scared of?
Firstly, when you consider the number of avenues available for marketing, it can be overwhelming plus, if you really want to get noticed, chances are you will have to pay one way or another. As I am sure we all know, money does not grow on trees and to fund our self-publishing journey can be really tough.
Secondly I am not a pushy person – nor will I ever be. When I talk about my work I am passionate – I know this and I recognise it, but if that is not enough to convince someone to stock my book or even to read it, then I will struggle for another strategy.
And finally, actually, where do I start?
Oddly I can see myself touting my wares. I can see myself standing proudly behind a stall at book fairs and talking to potential readers. I can see myself doing the rounds of independent book shops and even, dare I say it, meeting buyers. I understand enough about modern technology and social media to see me exploiting it, yet still that fear lingers. That fear of my book appearing on page 1,000 + of Amazon meaning that apart from the odd supporter and family, it will remain forever in the self-publishing graveyard.
There are no answers and there are no simple solutions because if there were, we would all be authors, either self-published or traditional. I guess for me it is about going with my gut, the only trouble is, my gut continues to be very much conflicted.