Your Book is Done – Now What?
by Dana Wayne
“A sharp clip-clop of iron-shod hoofs deadened and died away, and clouds of yellow dust drifted from under the cottonwoods and over the sage.” Thus reads the opening passage of Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey, considered by many as the best Western ever written, and the reason I first decided I wanted to be an author.
I can remember sitting in my father’s lap as he read passages from that book to me and being awed by the author’s ability to paint a picture with words so vivid I saw it in my mind. I knew right then I would one day be a writer. Over the years, I have written poems, short stories, newspaper articles, as well as contributing to several different writing anthologies, but what I really wanted to write was a novel.
I finally achieved that dream last year when I finished Secrets of The Heart, a contemporary romance.
One thing I did not give much consideration to beforehand was what to do AFTER the book was done. I knew nothing of publishing at all. I met with a couple of agents at conferences who expressed an interest, but after talking with them at length, I wasn’t sold on the traditional route but knew nothing about self-publishing either. So I did some research, which I should have done much sooner than I did, but I was learning.
One of the first things I discovered was I needed to answer some questions.
- What was my ultimate goal in publishing?
- How much control was I willing to relinquish?
- How much time, effort and money was I willing to invest in my project (book)?
- What are my expectations? Get rich? Become famous?
Once I could answer those questions, I could look further at the pros and cons of traditional versus self-publishing and decide which was right for me.
Obviously, there are many advantages to having a publisher.
- Less expense for you, the writer
- Sometimes includes an advance
- Wider distribution, more exposure (e.g., bookstores)
- Editing, formatting, cover costs included
- Marketing power
- Professional team to work with
- Potential to become a brand name author
That sounds like a lot of good stuff, right? But there is a down side.
- End product is more expensive to consumer
- Extremely slow process – can you say two years?
- Very hard to get in the door of the big publishing houses
- No creative control
- Lower royalties
- Difficult if not impossible to implement changes
- Lack of marketing assistance
- Potentially prohibitive contract clauses – READ THE FINE PRINT
The self-publishing market has exploded in recent years, which is both a good and bad tthing. Good in that it makes it much easier for indie authors to get their books out there. The bad part is that not every indie author goes through the extra steps needed to ensure the end product is the best it can be.
- Total creative control
- Learn new skills
- Contact with professionals
- Learn from your mistakes
- Faster time to market
- Easy to make changes
- Better royalties
- Global market AND you retain your rights
- Use it to get in the game –
- If you do well, they (publishers) will come to you
Before you commit to self-publishing, consider the down side.
- You are responsible for everything
- Editing, cover design, formatting, marketing, etc.
- No free professional assistance
- No prestige/validation within the industry
- Must have a budget to work with up front if you want professional results
- Difficult, but not impossible, to get into a bookstore.
I chose to self-publish
Even though I had a couple of agents express interest in representing me, I decided to self- publish. The biggest factor in my decision was I wanted the control. I wanted to be able to see my vision as I saw it, not what someone totally disconnected from me thought it was. Plus, I love a challenge. I wanted to see if I could do it.
What I learned in the process
First and foremost, it is a LOT of work! I had no idea how many little bits and pieces were involved in this process. I had to depend on others to help me, even when I didn’t know what questions to ask. Thankfully, there were many who readily shared what they knew. Obviously, not all advice is good and you have to trust your instincts there, because not everyone will have your best interest at heart.
Will my next book be self-published? Absolutely. Would I ever consider a traditional publishing deal? Of course, given the right circumstances.
I know I will never get rich at this, but that is not why I do it. I absolutely love to write. I would, and have, done it for free. I love hearing someone say they enjoyed the end result of my endeavors and as long as that happens, I will keep doing it.