The more I think about publishing, the more I think that I want to self-publish again.
For years, I’ve said that the plan was to try to sell the book so that someone else had to deal with publishing costs and marketing and all that crap, and because self-published books so rarely hit it big enough for the writer to write full-time.
But the truth is, traditionally published books also rarely hit it big enough. And if you’re not a “household name” author like King or Rowling or Sparks, all too often the marketing is mostly your responsibility, too.
In addition, there are very few publishers out there willing to take a shot on a previously unpublished author’s 400+ page book. It’s understandable, from a business perspective — that sort of book costs a lot to publish, and if it doesn’t sell well then they’ve lost money.
I don’t like trying to sell my own books. I’m not a salesman, and I never will be. But I managed to (technically) make a little bit of money on the first one, and the second one is definitely even better. And I’d have control — not only of the rights and the way the book is presented, but of exactly how and when it came out. I’m a fan of having control of my own product.
The downside of self-publishing, as far as I can tell, is that I’d be admitting that I was more or less “giving up” on the idea of someone paying me enough that I could quit my job and just write. There are so many supportive people out there who tell me not to give up on the dream, because it could happen… but at some point, I feel like it’s kind of like playing the lottery. While it’s true that you can’t win if you don’t play, it’s also true that you don’t lose if you don’t play. With the actual lottery, of course, it’s money out of your pocket with every ticket you buy. With trying to find a publisher, it’s days and weeks and months of hope and patience being tested, bent by self-doubt and the hollowness that comes from rejection.
If I were to quantify the unquantifiable, it would be something like this:
In poker, you calculate the odds versus the rewards. If you have, statistically, a 1 out of 4 chance of winning a hand, and winning would earn you 5 times what you wager, it’s a good bet. (Ignore the intangibles of poker and just nod. Now don’t ignore the intangibles I’m about to bring up.)
In writing, if the odds against making a living at it are higher than the cost of the investment of time, energy, and emotional health… then it’s a bad bet, isn’t it?
Please feel free to tell me if you think I’m wrong. Otherwise, please stay tuned for a few months. I may have a novel going to press this year.