Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why I Decided to Self-Publish


In case you missed my recent announcement, my next book, Keep No Secrets (the sequel to Tell No Lies) will be hitting the virtual book shelves very, very soon (ebook and print), and this time I've decided to self-publish it. Also, I recently got the rights back to my first two novels, Tell No Lies and Rescuing Olivia, and I've re-released Tell No Lies as an ebook on Amazon (only $2.99!). Rescuing Olivia will follow any day now.

Of course, the first question I received from many folks after making this announcement (primarily other writers, but not always) was this: Why did you decide to self-publish?

The answer is a lengthy one, and it's multi-faceted. There really isn't just one reason.

So in the interest of saving myself the trouble of having to answer the question over and over, and also realizing that there are probably people who want to know but are too afraid to ask, I've decided to discuss it here on my blog. The full answer will come piecemeal – one, because as I said, it's long and multi-faceted, and, two, because on any given day I remember more of my reasons. (I'll also add the answers to my website, so by the time I'm done, all of my answers can be found in one place.)

Today, I'll start with two, very simple reasons.

Reason #1 why I decided to self-publish: As I write, it's been twenty days since I first released Tell No Lies by uploading it as an ebook to Amazon. In those twenty days, I've sold more copies of the book than I've sold in the past two years. Surprised? So was I, but only a little.

See, with traditional publishing, your book is released and it hits the shelves in some bookstores (but not, as some think, in most bookstores – I'll discuss this further in a later post), where it remains for two months or so (if you're lucky), and then any leftover copies are returned to your publisher to make room on the shelves for the next crop of releases. After that, the print book can still be purchased (1) from the bookstore if you want to wait for them to order it and get it in, or (2) online, either as a print book or as an ebook, but the print book is now competing with the used copies being resold for two cents, and the ebook, priced at $9.99 or sometimes even higher, is competing against all of the other $9.99 books by New York Times bestsellers and the free, 99 cents, $1.99 and $2.99, etc. books by authors doing it themselves. In other words, once you reach this point, you won't be selling too many more copies. The heyday of your book's life is behind it.

By getting my rights back and re-releasing Tell No Lies and Rescuing Olivia, I'm able to give the books a little CPR and bring them back to life. Forever. Plus, I can set my own price so they stand a chance of competing against the books mentioned above. It's amazing how many people are willing to give a relatively unknown author a chance when they're asked to spend only $2.99 to do it. You don't get the benefit of that “sampling” when your book is priced at $9.99 or higher.

You might ask, why do traditional publishers set the price of ebooks, especially for lesser known authors like me, so high? Beats me. Or rather, I know why – I simply don't understand why. Again, that's a whole other post, but if you want a great explanation now, I'll refer you to a short book (free!) called Be the Monkey - Ebooks and Self-Publishing: A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath. Frankly, I'd call it required reading for anyone considering any kind of publishing in this day and age. Do I agree with everything they say? No, but the discussion of print and digital publishing is spot on, in my opinion.

Reason #2 why I decided to self-publish: The traditional publishing route isn't as glamorous as it's cracked up to be.

I could try to explain this, but I would never be able to write such a funny, yet honest explanation as given by Adam Mansbach in this essay he wrote for If you really want to know what it's like, all I can say is: What Adam said!

So that's it for today, folks. Time to get back to preparing Rescuing Olivia for its re-release. Stay tuned for more reasons . . .

I welcome all comments or questions about my decision and my experience. I'll try to answer as best I can. (If a question would be answered by an upcoming “Reason why” post, I may defer my answer to then so I can answer it adequately. Please be patient. I still have to find time to actually write fiction.)

Don't get me wrong: I'm not here to declare one way is better than another. My intent is to discuss why I've decided to do this at this point in time. Will I always do it this way? Who knows? This is a new venture for me and I may end up loving it or I may end up hating it. Would I consider going back to traditional publishing? It depends. I know plenty of authors who are doing both, and I can see that as a possibility if the terms were right. After all, there was a time when I didn't think I'd ever write a sequel to Tell No Lies. But I did. So if I've learned anything, it's never to say never. The beauty of what I'm doing is that I can be flexible.

So, if you're interested in the details of my journey, stick around and follow along. If all you care about are the books – that's great, too! I recommend signing up for my mailing list, though, so you won't miss the news of any upcoming releases.

Talk to you soon!