I’m a proponent of digital self-publishing. After being “almost there” for six years, I self-published my paranormal romance Cattitude on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and more. It’s easy and inexpensive, and more than that, it’s freeing and empowering. One of the best things about having your book published (besides money) is getting emails from people you don’t know who LOVE your book. And great reviews. A couple of reviews have given me happy tears.
Now that I’ve said wonderful things about self-publishing, I have three more words for you if you’re new to writing. Don’t do it. Not yet, anyway. Of course there are exceptions. Your book might be wonderful as is, so why go through all the hassle and frustrations and the steps that most successful writers have done?
Uh, because it might not be as wonderful as you think?
Because this might be something that will make you cringe in a few years?
Because people might read it and remember you as a bad writer and dismiss your future books, even when you’ve made huge improvements in your craft?
Because maybe your idea is fresh and wonderful but you’re not telling it as well as you would in year or two? And you might miss your chance for a do-over (aka revision)?
Before I self-published, I’d sold numerous short stories and nonfiction articles, I’d won RWA chapter contests, I was a finalist in the American Title V contest, I’d had four agents and my books had been considered by editors. I’d written Cattitude six years ago, and it was good enough to get me an agent. Yet when I read it again, I ended up ripping it apart. Six friends who are writers critiqued it, and then I did more ripping apart and sewing back together.
As I write this, a former RITA finalist is critiquing Dead People, the next book I’m putting up. I told her I wanted an honest critique, to let me know if anything bothers her. That I have a tough skin.
I’m getting advice from the best. Are you?
In a recent blog, Amanda Hocking (who sold more than 20,000 e-books in five months) said:
“I am sooooo grateful for the fact that Kindle didn’t exist 9 years ago, or even 5 years ago. I would’ve put crap out there, and I know it.
On that note, here’s what I think would’ve happened if I had the chance to publish my first book Dreams I Can’t Remember on Kindle when I was 17-
-I would’ve sold very, very few copies
-I would’ve gotten almost entirely negative reviews
-I would’ve cried a lot and vowed to quit writing (which I probably wouldn’t have done, but I would probably quit trying to write professionally)”
Before you rush to put your books up on Amazon, my advice is to send to contests, critique partners, agents and editors. Write, get feedback, rewrite, and then rewrite some more. Learn, learn, learn. Write, write, write. When you get mostly glowing critiques and good comments from agents/editors, then maybe you should go ahead and self-publish.
And there’s always the chance that a smart editor or agent might snap you up.
So happy writing! And rewriting!
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Edie, what terrific advice! It’s so hard to know what to do anymore with publishing options opening up and things shifting so fast. What great insights. Thanks for sharing this with us!
I think another issue for those of us traditionally published is almost the opposite…knowing when to rip of the bandage and put the book out there. Having had an editor who said, yep, it is ready, is almost a crutch. You didn’t have to say it yourself and in the new world, you do. One good thing though about the new world is you never have to say the book is “done”. You can continue to take feedback and tweak it, even after it is published.
Kathy, I think writers have more opportunities than ever before — if we’re ready for them and aren’t afraid to jump in and grab them. And with the NY pubs being so restricted right now in what they’re buying, self-publishing is a viable option for books that just don’t fit in. Not just for unpublished writers, but for already published writers, too.
Lori, you are one of the bravest writers I know. I think we all have books that we believe in, even if others don’t. Or there’s a book you HAVE to write, even though you know your editors wouldn’t buy it. That’s the book you might want to put up on its own.
Yes, you can tweak and republish it. I know one writer who’s done that a couple years after the first one. The previous reviews, though, will always follow her.