Deciding on whether to go the self-publishing indie route or not is the biggest question every writer has to ask themselves in today’s publishing world. Over the course of 2010, I hemmed and hawed, wondering if I could ever regain my credibility (who am I kidding–did I have any to begin with?) if I decided to experiment with self-publishing. After all, I had landed a novel deal with an up and coming small press, I had completed a second novel I thought was better than the first, and to top it all off, I received an acceptance for a short story collection from a publisher in the U.K. Things were looking up.
So now it’s 6 months later and I’ve self-published both novels in digital editions. What happened?
Well, a lot. First, the small press pulled the plug on what I had thought was a sale. Long story short, he thought better of putting his money behind a book by a relative unknown. The risks were too great, the economy too shitty. I totally understand. If I were in his position, I’d limit my risks in this changing publishing world as much as possible.
So you might be wondering why I didn’t just send the novel back out to the next publisher on my list. Well, the whole ordeal that I had just gone through had taken three years. That’s three years in which I wasn’t connecting with readers. I decided I didn’t want to go through that again.
Just shy of Christmas 2010, I uploaded my first novel, The Nightmare Within, to Kindle and Smashwords. Since then, I’ve made pizza and beer money–which is fine for right now. My goal is to reach readers, and I have. I started getting emails from readers a couple of weeks after my release date. They compared my writer’s voice to those of some of my literary heroes. The comparisons happened enough that, ballsy bastard that I can be, I wrote one of those heroes to ask if he could write a blurb for my second novel, which I was readying for release. I was expecting him to either turn me down or to be greeted by the cold interminable silence that comes with being ignored. Neither happened. Instead, he put me in contact with his publisher and recommended that he take a look at my novel. I was floored by his generosity. This guy doesn’t know me. I’m a fanboy who’s written a few novels. He’s published twenty.
At any rate, the publisher liked my writing, but ultimately passed. His lineup is full and the novel is too long for his line. But he did say he wanted me to submit both a shorter novel and a novella.
Woohoo! That’s what I’m talking about!
So am I going the indie route (that sanitized version of the once-maligned term “self-published”) or not?
Well, yes, I’m going indie, but damn I’d be stupid not to keep my toes dipping in the traditional publishing pool. I’ve had writer buddies and mentors advise me to keep trying the traditional route until I break through. I’ve had others tell me just the opposite. My conclusion? I’m striking my own path. Because there is no one path to follow, just mine. As I finish up another novel, I have no idea which route it will take to publication, just that it will be published. And once that novel is sent out into the world, I will start the novella that the traditional publisher wants to see.
You know, this new publishing world doesn’t have to be a scary place. I’m starting to think it’s kinda fun.