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!


Unknown said...

LOVE that I can now get all of your awesome books on my Kindle! I am a little sad that I won't get awesomely autographed copies to "Evil" but hey, a girl can't have everything, right? Glad you're still writing...from Mickey's EVIL neighbor, Lori!

Julie Compton said...

Thanks Lori! I'll still have print editions, too, so if you ever decide you want one of those autographed books, just shout. And who knows, I may just decide to fly up to St. Louis for an event . . . Despite the article about tours, there are a couple towns I will always visit to promote - St. Louis being at the top of the list. :-)

Terri-Lynne said...

Two months? TWO?? I thought a book had a five month shelf life before it got sent back. Holy crap.

This is great, Julie. I passed on a link to all my writerly friends.

Julie Compton said...

Your post didn't get put in spam, Terri! Yay!
Two is what I found to be the average for the biggies, like BN. Of course, indie bookstores (love them!) will often keep copies of your book forever, but you still have to hope someone finds it.
I'll never forget how, only about 9 weeks after my TNL release, I walked into a BN (by my house) with my daughter for one of the Twilight midnight releases. I couldn't believe how many people were there, and I thought, great! All the parents there with their kids will be browsing the shelves. But when I went to search for my book, I couldn't find it. When I asked at the counter, I was told it had sold out, but they didn't reorder, because I wasn't on the "list" of authors whose books get automatically reordered when they all sell. I love my local BN - they've been great to me - but this was a "headquarters" type issue. The clerk was wonderful and she put in an order for more, but of course, it was too late to reap any of the benefit from having so many people in the store that night.

Mary Ann de Stefano said...

As someone who has experienced "traditional" publishing, your take on the indie route is valuable. Thanks for sharing this info. I will be reading and passing along your posts. Bon voyage!

P.S. Thanks for listing MAD in your sidebar. :)

Julie Compton said...

Thanks so much, Mary Ann. You know, you remind me that I haven't updated that side bar in quite some time. (I've liked you for a long time, though, and will continue to do so!) My list of what I'm reading is VERY outdated. LOL!

I expect a bumpy ride with the indie publishing, but sometimes that can be half the fun. If nothing else, it will be an interesting journey.

Margaret Reyes Dempsey said...

Julie, as always, you are the person up front with the machete, clearing a path through the jungle for the rest of us. Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts.

Julie Compton said...

Margaret, thank you! You're kind to say that, but I can assure you that I've been following others who've carved the path before I even started thinking about it. Christine Kling is one who has been incredibly open and honest about her career path, and I've learned a lot from reading her posts at the Write on the Water blog she writes with several other authors. She was an under-appreciated writer here in Florida who has worked her tail off and is finally seeing the results, I'm happy to say. (She's led a very interesting life, too!) Another one who has shared her experiences openly with me is my friend and fellow author Sharon Potts, who is doing the "hybrid" way I talk about briefly above - she's published her thrillers the traditional way, and self-published her chick-lit online. That's what is so cool about the business now -- authors have so many more options.

Cynthia Marcano said...

I am new to writing (and self-publishing) and this post gave me some confidence. Thanks for sharing your side of publishing.

Julie Compton said...

You're welcome, Cynthia. I'll be adding more about the topic soon. I've been just a tiny bit tied up with getting Keep No Secrets ready for release (yes, that's understatement you're detecting! LOL!) and I'll talk about that, too. Interestingly enough, it's not preparing the manuscript for e-book formats that is so time-consuming, but getting it ready for print. But I'm loving the control! Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

amber said...

Hi Julie! I found you after grabbing a copy of Rescuing Olivia today! Excited to see another author in my next of the woods (I'm near Orlando, too). Really looking forward to reading your book!

Julie Compton said...

Hi Amber! I hope you enjoy it! Whereabouts are you? What do you write? I'd love to meet another local author!