Six months ago, I would have filed the idea under “Desperate Acts.” Or maybe “Last Resort.” Things change.
I’ve gone indie.
By choice, on purpose. (Yes, I know it’s redundant, but work with me here. Emphasis, it’s all about emphasis.)
What I’m trying to say is, I didn’t decide to self-publish (e-publish, actually, but I couldn’t figure out the hyphenation) because I’m afraid. Like, “Golly, what if I don’t have the talent to succeed via the traditional route?” I’ve gone that route before, which leads me, rightly or wrongly, to believe I could—maybe, perhaps, with luck—do it again.
Furthermore, despite a couple (soul-crushing) boilerplate rejection e-mails, I still believe in my book, Amanda’s Eyes.
So why did I do it?
Providence, baby. Providence, followed by hours of arduous research and equally arduous soul-searching.
The last agency I submitted to didn’t reject me. They lost me. Not their fault, of course. Electronic submissions can go astray as easily as the best-laid plans of mice, men, and novelists. But the end result was the same, namely, six months of my life gone, spent in waiting. (As we all know, except in very rare cases, the wheels of traditional publishing do grind exceedingly slowly.) I tried to resubmit, but the submission got kicked back. This unwelcome event triggered a major meltdown (mine). Thank God nobody was here to see it.
Now, pay attention, because this is where Providence stepped in.
As I was moping and shaking my fist at the heavens—”Why me?”—I happened across an article called “How Amazon Saved My Life.” I read it. And said, “Zounds!” (Or something to that effect.)
I shifted into research gear and, what do you know, lo and behold. Even best-selling authors are going indie! Hokey smokes, Bullwinkle! So I started listing pros and cons.
- No editor. This is a biggie. I had a crackerjack editor at Bantam, and I’m here to tell you, a gifted editor is worth his/her weight in gold. Maybe more, because Joy Abella’s input was priceless. Yes, I know you can hire editors, but that’s assuming you have the means to do so. Not to put too fine a point on it, I don’t.
- No actual book to hold in your hand and gaze at with pride and awe. This is a bit disappointing. Also, not everyone reads e-books (although sales have doubled in the past year). Heck, some of my friends have already informed me they won’t be reading Amanda’s Eyes, because they don’t read e-books. To that I say, “No comment.”
- No book signings. (Oh, wait. I’m an introvert. I hated books signings. So, this bullet actually belongs under “Pros.”)
- As of this writing, I am 61 years old. (“Yet she sounds so young!” I know. In spirit I haven’t matured much past 25.) As previously noted, the wheels of traditional publishing grind exceedingly slowly. I had to ask myself, “How many 6-month waits can I afford?” Not being morbid, you understand, simply pragmatic. And even if I have 20 or 30 more years, do I want to spend them waiting in 6-month increments? No. Conclusion: Circumvent the system.
- Royalties. I won’t tell you what they were (maybe still are) for beginning authors, but I will say this: Based on my admittedly limited experience, we’re not talking double-digit percentage points. Whereas, on Amazon, the author gets 70%. (Certain conditions do apply, but they’re no kind of straightjacket.)
- Audience. Do you know how many millions of people buy books through Amazon? Or how many of those books are e-books? Look it up sometime and compare it with the print-run usually afforded a novice author’s first books.
- I get to keep the book rights. Period.
- I get to write what I want. Okay, that’s a double-edged sword, because if what I want to write is garbage, I also get to go down in flames. So whoever said freedom was free?
Those aren’t all my reasons for jumping ship, but they’re the important ones. I e-mailed the agency and withdrew my submission. (The one they hadn’t received in the first place, but I wanted to make sure they didn’t waste time on it, if it suddenly showed up. Besides, how many times in your life do you get to tell them, “Forget it!”?)
Amanda’s Eyes will go live on Amazon sometime in the next few hours. The prospect is electric—exciting and slightly terrifying, all at the same time.
I’ve got 5 copies sold, for sure.
Anyway, this blog won’t only be about writing from here on out. I’ll also chronicle my experiences an as indie author. Hopefully, that won’t entail crying in my beer. I hate beer.
Stay tuned for more Adventures in Indie Publishing!