Sunday, 13 May 2012
Should I self-publish my novel?
That's the crucial question. Previously, I hadn't thought seriously about this, but recently there has been so much positive feedback about self-publishing from credible sources that I'm really starting to rethink this. Maybe it wouldn't be so foolish, or impossibly difficult ....
But first, a little background.
On my previous blog, I discussed the novel that I completed last year. It's a work of historical fiction set in my favourite Italian city, Perugia, at the beginning of the 16th century when it was a violent, fear-filled city about to be invaded by Pope Julius (the Warrior Pope.)
I had faith in my novel and followed all the right steps of conventional publishing: working and reworking and polishing the manuscript; drafting the right sort of letter to potential literary agents; researching who might be the right style of agent for this work.
I thought that I had a good shot at success: I have always made my living as a professional writer -- as a journalist and speechwriter -- and I did a great deal of research for the novel.
Yet, for the past year, I've received rejection letter after rejection letter from agents. A few asked to read the full manuscript, then said no thanks. It's hard not to take that personally, although I know that these are very tough times in publishing. The odds are against unknown authors.
Very kind friends mentioned self-publishing as an alternative, but I wasn't interested -- I was determined to stick to the conventional course.
My reasons for that weren't always great. Frankly, there was a good deal of ego involved as well as practical considerations. If I had to publish my own book, wasn't that essentially vanity publishing? Or, an admission that no legitimate agency or publisher wanted to represent me? And if I went the self-publishing route, how on earth would I promote myself, get my books into bookstores, reviewed and put before potential readers? It seemed like a lot of hassle for questionable results.
But as I began to rethink this question, I have noticed so much more positive information about self-publishing of two major styles..
For one, there is the self-published, physical, conventional novel of the type that I could show my mother (who has stopped asking when she can see my novel. This is a bit sad, kind of like when she stopped asking if I would give her grandchildren. Sorry, Mom)
But even more intriguing is the idea of self-publishing via e-books. Since my friend Gwen gave me a Kindle just before I moved to Italy last year, I have become addicted and now see the benefits, both as a reader and as an author.
For example, this link was interesting, from Britian's Guardian newspaper about the benefits of self-publishing via e-books. With literally millions of e-readers now out there in the world, particularly in the hands of readers who devour books (as I do), it could be a decent place to start.
There are many reasons for self-publishing. For some writers, there is an editorial control issue. As a reporter, I'm certainly used to be edited! But what if a publisher insisted that I needed to add some bodice-ripping or S+M to my novel, to jazz it up? That would be hard to take. I could avoid all of that by self-publishing.
Yet, with millions of e-books out there, how would I make mine stand out? How would I promote it? Should I make it inexpensive? If I price it too low to get readers, however, would I look desperate?
So, any advice? Shall I self-publish?