Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The "Business" of Self-Publishing, Part 1

Way back in 2012, I researched publishing options for my novel, Champion in the Darkness. I researched agents and publishing houses online and in Writer's Markets; I looked at the publishing houses of the books that I found were most like mine; I researched small presses; I read articles about self-publishing.

I thought, from what I had learned, that only those with a foot already in the door of publishing could get Christian fantasy fiction published. Every author I read in that genre had books published in different genres first. Every agent I found seem to state that they didn't accept Christian fantasy as a genre unless the author already had something published in something like Amish Romance fiction, or Christian Thriller fiction, or secular Fantasy fiction.

Yet, I still wanted to get my book into the hands of readers. I started researching self-publishing, and after six months of research, I thought I knew how to go-ahead.

I didn't.

Well, obviously, I figured out some of it because I went ahead and self-published Champion in the Darkness in February 2013 under my own publishing company name, Wings of Light Publishing.

Since then, I have learned a huge amount. It's been a steep learning curve, and I've often slid back down the slippery slope. I'm no Hugh Howey of success. But, if I can help others who have chosen self-publishing, then I would like to do that.

My very first tip: Set aside at least one full year to research self-publishing. Keep writing during that time, but dig into the subject deep. Read articles and books on self-publishing - both from the cheerleaders and the naysayers. Filter the ultra-positive and the ultra-negative out. Read books by successful authors who are self-published. Study their covers. Study the length of their books. Study the way that they've released their books. Stalk their blogs for advice and information.

Here are four places I suggest to start with:

Susan Kaye Quinn - To celebrate her third Indie-anniversary, she's giving away a free indie publishing consultation. However, even if you don't get that, her site is chock full of information for writers and independent publishers. Sign up for her newsletter, stalk her blog, and learn.

Hugh Howey - Hugh Howey is "the name" in the independent publishing industry. Sign up for his newsletter, stalk his blog, and learn. Also, pay careful attention to the way he released his bestselling Wool series. (More about this in a later post of this series.)

Insecure Writer's Support Group's Self-Publishing Page - IWSG is helpful for every writer. Their page on Self-Publishing has tons of useful links. A collective of writers has created this page, so it's a great place to get a great combination of ideas and thoughts.

M Pax is an indie author who often has insightful posts on self-publishing, marketing, and everything it takes to write and publish.




If a year seems like far too long to research the subject of self-publishing, then I suggest looking at other options. Self-publishing is hard, patient work. Any kind of publishing is hard, patient work. Writing a novel is an accomplishment, and if you are finished, celebrate. But then, know that the publishing side of writing is going to be just as involved and just as much of an accomplishment as writing a novel.

18 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm sure there is a lot to learn. We have a ton of resources listed at the IWSG site as well. And that's our most popular page.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Oops, I knew I would forget something . . . sorry, Alex.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I updated the post . . . anyone else have any insightful blogs to offer up?

Nick Wilford said...

You definitely can't do too much in the way of preparation. Only one chance to make a first impression, as they say. But for all that, like you say, a lot of it is learning by doing - you have to put yourself out there at some point, which is the scary part!

Tyrean Martinson said...

It is the super scary part, but once you're swimming, you just keep swimming. :)

Leandra Wallace said...

Great advice! One of the good things about self-publishing these days is there are so many ppl out there that are willing to share what they've discovered- such as yourself! =)

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Thanks for sharing! It doesn't just take a village to raise a child, it takes one to write a book, too.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

At least a year! It scares me when authors finish a book, decide to self publish with no real knowledge, and then throw it on Amazon within a month. I've taught my Pub & Promo seminars for seven years and there are still things I'm learning and adding to them.

The main thing is that writers need to understand it is a business and treat it as such. Which is hard to do for many, as most people have never owned a business.

Melissa said...

Good advice. One shouldn't SP without doing their homework.

Maurice Mitchell said...

It takes a long time to master any skill, so a year sounds like a good start Tyrean. Good tips!

Chemist Ken said...

I've researched self-publishing for well over a year now, and I still wonder if I have a clue. I'll find out soon enough.

Crystal Collier said...

Agreed! When I research, I research like a boss, and that's one avenue I looked into for a full year. That included attending a 6 week course by a self-pubber with 80+ titles, attending 3 online workshops, stalking IndieReCon, prowling Susan's site, studying about 10 books on publishing and marketing, picking the brains of a small pub acquiring editor, and reading so many blog posts it made me dizzy. After all that, I decided that half the knowledge comes in the doing.

Unleashing the Dreamworld

Natalie Aguirre said...

Susan is such a great resource. Thanks for all the advice on self publishing. It's so helpful to share what you've learned from the process.

S.K. Anthony said...

This is fantastic! I researched my butt off as well before self-publishing, and even now the learning continues. The industry and resources and everything keeps on changing while certain things remain the same. I believe our job is to learn and keep updated as we write.

jaybird said...

Thanks for sharing this post! It helps so much to hear what other writers have been through (and are still going through) in the process of publication. Either road, traditional or indie, all have their share of pitfalls and peaks. Posts like this are a tremendous help to writers (like me) who are still waffling in the choice of which way to go!!

Julie Dao said...

I went to hear Hugh Howey speak at an event last year and it was so informative and interesting! Self-publishing seems like a very demanding but worthwhile venture. My heart is still telling me to go traditional, but I would still consider self-publishing one day!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! Thank you all for your comments and insights. I have to admit my day went a bit crazy - well, two days went a bit crazy, so I visited blogs, commented, and read comments without replying directly here . . . hope that's ok.

M Pax said...

I'm flattered you lumped me with Susan and Hugh. They know way more than I do. I'm rethinking my game and am always studying. I read nonfiction on craft and marketing, always looking to up my game. Like anything else in life, you can't stay stagnant and must keep learning. You know that, though. And if you're self publishing, it is business.