Years ago, I submitted my first novel to a list of agents who specialized in my genre, sure they’d love my quirky, clever book. I’d edited, re-edited, and run it by people I trusted–it was dressed for success. At that time, I didn’t realize that finding an agent was like putting a hood on a falcon while holding a mouse in the other hand. The reply (when I got one) usually sounded something like, Excellent writing but not what I need right now.
And then one agent called me! He loved my writer’s voice but would like a few changes:
- Add new characters
- Change the setting and the timeframe
- Put more action in the plot
Basically, if I changed the entire concept, he’d look at a rewrite.
That’s when I first considered the possibility that self-publishing could be a better option.
It’s not just me, either. Many writers are looking at self-publishing. In fact, more books are self-published than traditionally published (by a lot). What surprises me is that agents don’t accept that self-publishing is a real, practical option for writers. Rather than wooing me away from that alternative, they seem to think they’re doing me a favor by considering my book. I hear how busy they are, how many unsolicited submittals they get, how they are looking for blockbusters, how they ignore submittals that don’t follow the guidelines. It reminds me of middle school dances where I sat in a chair along the wall, (almost) shaking, sure it was my fault no one asked me to dance. If only I was prettier, more outgoing, or more popular. Now, as an adult, it’s the same feeling; just the reasons have changed–If only I could write better, write stories people want to read, or action-pack my plot.
After the bazillionth rejection, I stopped blaming myself. I didn’t crawl under my writing desk or burn my manuscript or buy more books on How to Write or enroll in yet another conference that promised to get me noticed. I took my wonderful novel, bought a professional cover, and self-published.
That was a couple of years ago. Now, in the fullness of time, I don’t mind that it didn’t become a NYT best-seller. I am thrilled it sold enough to pay the cost of writing it (even covered a few car payments). The more books I publish, the more books I sell. I still remember the day I could quit the day job and devote myself to my passion–writing.
Let me wrap up with the big reasons why self-publishing is right for me:
- It’s faster. I write, edit, rewrite, re-edit, publish, market, and start over. All of that takes a lot of time but less than the two years agents told me was the minimum time from signing a contract to publication.
- I have more control. For better or worse, it’s on me to pick what works best for my novel. I like that and I trust myself to make the right decisions.
- I can write what I want rather than what an agent thinks will sell.
- Because most publishers don’t do much marketing–especially for new authors–I’m not missing out on anything there.
- I make more money. Sure, I bear the cost of production and marketing but I also get all the proceeds. So far, that has been much better than what I would have gotten from a publisher.
This discussion of self-publishing is my long way of letting you know my fourth self-published ebook, Survival of the Fittest, is available! Its tagline:
Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home.
It’s available only on Kindle, as print or digital:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Fall 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.