The Decision to Self-Publish

Self-publishing, particularly in the electronic format, is experiencing a surge of sorts right now. There are still a lot of people out there who feel if you’re not being published by one of the “Big Six”, then you’re not really legitimate; they feel self-publishing, especially if you self-publish into print is pure vanity and instantly brand your product as unadulterated crap.


That’s not to say that there isn’t crap being self-published. But there’s also crap being published by the Big Six. Ever read a novel full of typos, grammatical errors, continuity errors, plot holes, and just plain, poor writing? Yeah, I have too. I’ve paid money for books like that. Money that went to one of the Big Six. The wildfire-like proliferation of e-readers has rendered the old-school publishing formula obsolete. Traditional publishing is now facing a crisis like that the RIAA faced when the music industry went digital. It’s unfortunate they didn’t take any lessons from that debacle.

I sent a few manuscripts to various publishers and agents (agents are the Gatekeepers of the publishing industry; I’m not sure who the Keymasters are). Like Peter Venkmen the first time he encountered Zuul, I was rejected. But since I don’t want to instigate an apocalypse of Biblical proportions (cats and dogs living together!), I didn’t knock on the door again and claim to be a friend of the Keymaster. Instead, I decided to take some advice and looked into self-publishing.

Yeah, it’s a lot of work. Sure, I could just put my project up there right now as an e-book, but then I’d just be adding to the crap. I’m paying someone to create cover art. I’m paying someone to draw maps. I’m paying for character portraits so I can promote my book on this website. I plan on paying someone to edit it (my lovely wife does a good job, but I’d like a second set of unbiased eyes). Heck, I might even bribe my friends with beer and pizza for some honest critiques. All this means that I will likely not even break even on Wings of Twilight for a couple of years, if ever.

I can live with that.

If my work is good, someone will read it and (hopefully) tell their friends about it. Then they’ll read it and if they like it, they’ll tell their friends. If it’s crap, it’ll fail (rightly so!). I’ve got two other manuscripts ready for heavy-duty editing. One is a superhero story set in the near future, the other is a middle-grade sci-fi story. I plan on having both of those available (editors, willing) by 2012. I’m also working on a sequel to Wings of Twilight, and I have a steampunk horror western in the works, too. I figure by 2013, I could have up to 4-5 books available electronically and in print. I don’t have to wait on any publisher’s schedule in New York to get my work out there.

Fortunately, I have a day job so I can earn money to finance all this. It is my hope that someday my writing will be self-sustaining. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. But I’ll never know unless I try. I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit on the sidelines while this digital revolution takes place, though. I’m getting in while I can. I don’t really have anything to lose.

Categories: Publishing | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Decision to Self-Publish

  1. I love that I can self-publish. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s crazy fun and the things I continue to learn keep it interesting. I wish you the best success in your endeavor!

  2. Keith

    Hey Hans,
    Sci-fi?! I would be willing to take a look at that one for you. I do not know how good of an editor I would be. I have been delving back into Sci-fi of late. Currently Chris Bunch’s The Last Legion series (not impressing me but I’m continuing the series). Read most of the Honor Harrington series but it started getting old. Have Walter H Hunt on the back burner (Dark Wing series). I would say I am on a military Sci fi kick ala Renegade Legion.

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