Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
In the beginning of 2012 I decided I wanted to self-publish. I already had two years of publishing experience based on my work with epublishers. I also thought I didn’t have a chance getting a traditional publishing deal. I was burned by two agents who had promised great things, and in the end they failed to deliver. I didn’t want to spend my time and energy seeking out another agent and play the waiting game. The time I spent sending out query letters would take away from my writing. I was also writing for a niche market, mainly lesbian romance, and shorter works that I could only sell to epublishers. I also had some self-doubt about my writing. I really thought I wasn’t good enough to write for the “Big 6” New York publishers.
My plan was to learn all I could about self-publishing by reading up on those authors who had successful self-publishing careers. I joined self-publishing and indie loops and read websites and blogs on the pros and cons about self-publishing. I then tried an experiment to see if I could handle self-publishing. In the fall of 2012 I self-published three short stories, around 6,000 words each and priced them at .99 cents. I did everything one would expect a self-published author to do- create a cover, edit, format and upload to as many sites as I could that sells digital books. Also prior to self-publishing these shorts, I started writing a book that summer. This would be the first full length title in a series, and I would self-publish it. That book would end up being The Gate, the first book in the Dark Path series featuring a heavy BDSM erotic element. I self-published The Gate in October 2013, practically a year to the day I self-published those three short stories. Self-publishing was scary, nerve wracking, but exciting. Because I took a chance, I embraced self-publishing as new way to get my work out to the public.
When I first heard of self-publishing, I thought it was too hard to do. Self-publishing reminded me of when I first sat down to write with the purpose to get published. There’s a big sense of the unknown and many “what if’s”. There’s a lot of self-doubt that goes on. There’s the fear of failure. Writing is like jumping into the deep end of the pool. You jump in, float to the bottom and then rise back to the top, not knowing what you’ll see when you grab that much needed breath of air. Publishing is the same way. A writer has no idea if their work will be accepted, and if it is published, there’s no way of knowing how well that piece of work will be received by the public. You take a big chance, and for some writers, it’s putting their heart and soul out there, to have strangers criticize something you slaved over, not knowing if you will reap the rewards.
Publishing is a gamble, but self-publishing is a bigger one. Every part of the self-publishing process is on the author’s shoulders. That author is now in business for themselves and they should treat their self-publishing venture as if they are opening their own business. The author is the owner, the salesperson and even the janitor. The author is responsible for everything, and they shouldn’t be allowed to cut corners.
There are some key factors to take into account when self-publishing. One thing is certain-you will spend your own money. Are you will to sacrifice your hard earned dollars on something that may not turn out to be the success you’re hoping for? If you’re spending money on a product, you want the best, right? With self-publishing, the very best should be the cover created for your book, the editing and formatting, and in some instances the promotion you might end up buying. I knew in order to create the best product possible, I needed a good cover artist and incredible editing. If you skimp on a cover and editing, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. There’s always an exception to this rule. Some authors can get away with horrible covers and horrible or no editing. But is that a chance you want to take? The same goes for formatting. If your book isn’t formatted correctly, no one will want to read it because it’s sloppy and unprofessional.
It took me a year to self-published The Gate because I took the time to find a cover artist who I felt could create the right cover for my vision. I was very lucky to work with a great content editor and copy editors who pushed me in ways I never had experienced, even when I worked with epublishers. My editing was tough and hard, to the point I want to throw my hands up in the air and walk away. But I didn’t because I had the need, the will to produce the best possible work I could. I wrote the first draft of The Gate between September-December 2012, and worked on editing it from May-September 2013. I wrote the first draft of The Key from October 2013 to January 2014 and then worked on edits from February to May 2014. It took over six months to pull everything together where it was ready for “prime time”.
I used to think the only way you were considered a “real” author is if you were published by a reputable publisher, specifically one of the Big 6, or if you hit a book list such as the New York Times or USA Today. Or you were making enough money from your book sales to be able to write full time and have enough money saved that you could retire early. There are moments when I still feel this way, but after publishing 25 books, ranging from 6,000 words to over 90,000 words, I can say I am as much of a “real” author as anyone who is traditionally published, a New York Times or USA Today bestselling author, or an author who makes a certain amount each month that enables them to write full time without another source of income.
I could have queried The Gate and The Key to agents or publishers, but then I would have had a long wait. Self-publishing allows me to publish at a much faster rate. I wouldn’t want it any other way, especially with the Dark Path series. I’m planning on writing two more books in this series, and it’s all up to me when it will happen because I have a choice. I’ve chosen self-publishing because it has so many benefits, which doesn’t always mean how much you’re making in sales or how much you’re bringing in a month. What makes an author successful? Is it the amount of sale they make from their books or the prestige they may receive from readers? Most artists want that for themselves. They want their art to be respect and loved. I want that for myself. And in order to do that, I’ve turned to an alternate way of letting my creativity shine just like I did when I started my personal blog six years ago and then when I sold my first book to an epublisher four years ago.
This week I self-published The Key, the second book in the Dark Path series. It’s the fifth title I’ve self-published. Self-publishing this book was second nature to me. It was easier than I thought. My one big regret is I wish I had done it earlier. I took a big leap toward something great and new, very much like when I sit down in front of my computer and create a new world and new characters on a blank white page. I end up making magic. Self-publishing let’s my magic run free.
“Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.”-Margaret Atwood