I started working on my manuscript in earnest about a year ago. As the word count rose I started thinking about the logistics of publishing. Originally, I wanted to go the traditional route, so I researched agents, publishers, and editors. I learned how the business worked. I researched how to write a query letter. And then I read how dismal a possibility getting past the middleman really was.
A few months later I bought a tablet. Of course the first thing I did was download the Kindle app. I bought some books, and I read a few free ones too. Some were okay, some were great, and some were horrid—even of the paid variety. I’d peruse the book aisle while grocery shopping (my mom takes FOREVER to shop!), sometimes for an hour or more, reading the first page of various novels and trying to decipher the secret formula that makes a reader go “oh, this looks good!” and buy the book. But I was setting every one back on the shelf, wondering what all the fuss was about.
There were far more appealing options on Kindle for much cheaper, and sometimes even free. I began to see how digital reading has become as mainstream as reading paperbacks (really it’s no surprise when I stop and think about it—technology has a way of growing in leaps and bounds. Digital music, anyone?). For the first time, I seriously contemplated self-publishing. I was reading how most new authors—if they’re lucky enough to get a contract with a publishing house, big or small—have to promote their own books because the publishers concentrate on big name authors.
So I said to myself: Let me get this straight…I have to work my tail off to produce a quality manuscript that is error-free, perfect a query letter, research agents and send said query letter out, build a platform, and keep plugging ahead through the rejections? Okay, sounds daunting, but doable. No one gets anywhere without effort and perseverance, right?
Then I read an article about self-publishing in Writer’s Digest that really got me thinking, and a short time later I stumbled onto Tracey Garvis Graves’ self-published novel, On the Island, which was number seven on the Kindle best sellers list at the time. Her book blew me away, not because it achieved great success, but because it was a damn good story. Other readers thought so, too.
As I was writing Epiphany, I kind of had one of my own: I could have absolute control over my work and cover design, and I could side step the middleman and the long string of rejections (which takes time) and go directly to readers. Of course, I’d have to learn how to promote. Oh, wait…I’d have to do that anyway.
I’m a bit of a control freak, so this idea has massive appeal to me. I could say that the world of publishing is changing, but a more accurate phrase would be “our world is changing.” People are listening to music on iPods and smartphones, and movies are streamed through Netflix; why is it such a stretch to see where publishing is headed?
The only downside I see is the stigma that seems to surround the term “self-published author.” A few years ago it may have been true that self-published equated low-quality drivel. That isn’t the case anymore. Writers have options now, and I believe that with good editing, a professional and eye-catching cover, and consistent promotion, self-published books will rise above this stigma.
The beauty about technology is the advancements it offers us—and ebooks will advance us right past the middleman, allowing readers to judge for themselves whether a book is worth reading.