Someone posted on Facebook a screen shot of his Kindle. He was excited about getting the Wheel of Time series in Ebook form.
The nerdy proud moment is seeing my book on the same screen.
The world of book publishing is changing by the minute. The introduction of both the Ebook and the ability to Print on Demand have opened up access to the market. No longer are book publishers the gate keepers to decide what books do and don’t make it into print.
And of course most authors need an agent to even get in the publisher’s door. This adds another level of gate-keeping, for you need to convince an agent that your work is worth their time, and it adds another person who needs to be paid for their work.
By some estimates, three out of every ten thousand unsolicited manuscripts ever get accepted for publishing. And the lag time is significant. Even if you are one of the lottery winners to make it through, your work won’t see the light of day for 18 to 24 months.
Some say the current model is broken, but it is resisting change. Many of the major publishers continue to discourage Ebook sales by pricing them too high. Publishers make most of their money on hardback sales. They not only delay Ebook release as they do with paperbacks, but they often price the Ebooks higher than the paperback, even with the reduced production, shipping and return costs. But trying to kill the Ebook appears to be a losing battle with the increased popularity of the Kindle, Nook and iPad.
But I didn’t self-publish Share the Road because I wanted to thumb my nose at traditional publishers because of their broken system, or because they rejected me. I did not find an agent, and I knew that after the first draft was finished that I wanted to self-publish the book. There would be no monetary advance, book tours, and my book will likely never grace the shelf of a bookstore. So why self-publish?
Share the Road is not a typical book. And I don’t mean that it breaks new ground that hasn’t been seen or understood by the fiction genre. What I mean is that I can’t point to the book and say that it is similar to the work of this author, or this type of book. I can’t say it is the next Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or Girl Who Plays With Fire.
Chasing what is popular in the moment can be a pointless exercise with the built-in delay to publishing, but agents and publishers need to feel confident that there will be an established audience for your book. They don’t want to risk their time or money on a brilliantly written book that no one will buy. They want a sure thing, they want the next John Grisham. Movie houses are much the same, which is why we see so many films that are near carbon copies of past hits. There are no zombie, vampires or wizards in my book. Just a guy and his bike.
Another reason I self-published was the ticking clock. Share the Road ended up being a pretty personal book. I feel like I understand things better for having written it, and I think that others may find their own meaning in the story. Also, a portion of the book was written to honor a friend who had passed away. I think that those that knew him and know me will appreciate the story. And quite frankly, no one knows how long they have. I didn’t want the book sitting on my hard drive never to be read.
Do I think the book would have made it past the traditional gate-keeper? We may never know. I am proud of the book, and I think it could find an audience. Otherwise I would have just printed up copies for my Mom and not released it on the world. It is possible that it could get picked up by a traditional publisher at a later date if it does well, but that might be another three in ten-thousand type of shot.
I may try to find an agent and submit my next book to traditional publishers. I have not yet tried the typical route, so I am not soured by it. The self-publishing adventure has been a great learning experience, and I am glad I chose to do it for Share the Road.
I can’t remember who said it, or even the exact wording, but the point was something like, “A book isn’t a book until someone else reads it.” Or a story isn’t a story until…you get the picture.
I have had this story as a work in progress for a year now. No one read the first two drafts, so even though it was down on paper, it was still sort of living just in my head. I eventually showed the story to eight beta readers looking for feedback, etc. One of them asked me if I was nervous/freaked out about putting the story out there to be judged.
At the time, I really wasn’t. This wasn’t from any sort of confidence in my writing ability. It was still a work in progress, and at that point I was looking for ways to improve it. I was actively seeking critiques (and maybe a little praise). They came back with lists of typos, corrections, and varying opinions on the strengths and weaknesses, and that was exactly what I was looking for.
And quite frankly, I wanted someone besides me to read it. Like the above quote says, it wasn’t a real story yet. Other people need to read your words, interpret them with their own unique experiences, and maybe come away with something you never imagined. Each of the beta readers seemed to key in on something different, and it made me see the story in a whole new light.
Now the story is out there as a finished work. More eyes are on it, which is outstanding, but it is a little different this time. Not only have they paid money to read my words, but unlike the first eight, this audience is (rightly) expecting a polished work. So, I am a little more anxious this go round.
That is to be expected, of course. Whenever you produce something for public consumption, you are putting yourself out there, taking a little risk. You are bound to be a little anxious, and nervous about feedback. Everything I have read says to not take reviews or comments (good or bad) too seriously. Especially with the anonymity of the internet, things could get ugly.
I won’t pretend I am not going to read the reviews, because I will. I have an ego just like everyone else, so it will rise with the good ones, and take some hits with the bad ones. But I am excited and curious because this is what I asked for by putting it out there – more eyes, more interpretations, and for the story to become a story.
Now it’s real.
To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.
~ Anne Rice
Share the Road is now available as an Ebook for the Barnes & Noble Nook. Just like the Kindle version, it is $2.99 and can be purchased through the link in the left sidebar. Or you can just search for “Share the Road” on the Barnes & Noble site. Or I could just point you there.
I will have a post up soon on my first impressions with Ebook publishing.
My goal was to get my first novel published by the end of the year, and I got it in just under the wire.
I finished off the latest edit, and I sent off a copy at the end of November to one of my beta readers to check for typos and grammar errors. While I was waiting to hear back, I read it again. And edited it again. This really could go on forever.
As I mentioned in my last post, the book still needed a new cover before I put it up for sale. I had some initial pictures and better ideas were developing, but then rain and a trip to Seattle for the holidays stalled progress on the new cover.
While I was in Seattle, I got my typo report back, fixed them, worked on the website and other background stuff, but I couldn’t do anything about the cover until I got back in town. I returned the night of the 26th and headed out on the 27th for another photo shoot. After lots of dashing back and forth with the self-timer, I had thirty more photos. I couldn’t really see how the photos turned out with the sunlight bouncing off of the camera screen, so I went home hoping I had something good. I ended up using the last photo I took, so I am glad I kept trying.
I updated the cover with the new photo, and was ready to submit it for file approval. And I was still messing with the text. I had to get this thing out of my hands. I uploaded it to CreateSpace and waited for them to make sure there weren’t any formatting problems. I received their approval on the 29th and immediately ordered a proof. Now I had to wait for the hard copy to show up so I could make sure everything looked okay in print.
The anticipated ship date was sometime around January 6th, so I wasn’t going to make my year-end deadline. But I was so close I was willing to call it a victory. Then, somehow, during the post-Christmas chaos of shopping and shipping, CreateSpace and the Post Office had the proof in my hands on the afternoon of December 31st.
I filled out all the last minute synopsis, author bio and pricing information and hit “Approve” at around 5:00pm. I was published. More or less. The book could have been purchased on the CreateSpace site that day, but it didn’t show up on Amazon until January 1st. The listing still isn’t completely ready as the web machines haven’t attached the synopsis and preview, but it is available for sale!
My first novel.