Sunday, May 27, 2012

Self-Publishing: Whee or Erf?

Everybody in the writing community is talking about it. Even if they don't want to talk about it, they're talking about how they don't want to hear about it anymore. Seems like all the other kids are doing it and surely every writer out there has wondered if maybe they should try it.

Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. (Because you read the blog post title!) Self-publishing.

Everybody seems to have an opinion. It's the salvation of writers! It's the death of publishing! People are making millions. People are making less than $500 and they're fools to expect more. Self-publishing allows unprecedented freedom. The market is being swamped with crap writing.

How to know what's true?

Thing is, it's all true. Some authors are making a lot of money. (Though, since it's all self-declared, it can be difficult to know if they're being entirely accurate, especially the ones wanting desperately to prove something.) Other authors are demonstrably not making much money at all. There's a lot of poorly conceived, poorly executed, and poorly edited books hitting the market. Sometimes those writers simply don't know better. Often they don't care and are just hopeful of getting lucky.

A lot of authors are self-publishing their back lists. I'm going to be one of them.

(A back list, for thems what don't know, are the books that have been previously published and are now out of print, for whatever reason.)

See, when I sold Petals and Thorns to Loose Id, it was for a two-year contract. Something I totally did not remember, which is irresponsible of me. Fortunately they are a publishing house with excellent integrity and they emailed me to inform me the two years would be up in July. They said they'd like to renew the contract or I could take my rights back on the book. I mention this integrity because I hear so many stories about publishing houses that don't acknowledge rights reversion requests. Even when the author is well within her legal, contractual rights, it can take a year or more to get the rights back. Some houses notably never respond to these requests and continue to sell the authors' books with no right to do so.

At any rate, I decided to dip my toe in the self-publishing pool and publish Petals and Thorns on my own. The advantage here is the book has already been professionally edited and has a proven track record. All I had to do was invest in a new cover (above - yay!) because the publishing house retains the rights to the cover they supplied.

By self-publishing, I will receive a greater percentage of each sale. Sadly, when Loose Id pulls their version, I will lose all of my reviews and rankings on the reseller sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and All Romance E-Books. Goodreads, however, retains that record.

So! I didn't think I would be self-publishing so soon (or ever, really), but I'm seizing the opportunity.

That means I vote Wheeeeee!


  1. I just love looking at this cover. And...wheeeee!

  2. Great post Jeffe! do you mind if i offer one word of caution? If/when you make an e-book from Petal and Thornes, choose a reputable eBook converter. There are a lot out there and their prices vary. I guess the old adage is true…You get what you pay for. There's nothing more frustrating for a reader to download the ebook and the formatting of fonts, spacing and text is all over the place. Just putting my two cents worth in. Best of luck!

  3. Nice cover! :) I think self-pubbing backlists is really a no-brainer for most authors at this point. If you've got the rights to the book and it's not doing anything? Absolutely. :D

  4. Best wishes for Petal and Thorns' rebirth! :D

  5. Thanks, Carolyn - wheee!!

    Excellent advice, Smitten. I will absolutely be sure of that. It will help that it's already in e-format. And I have experienced friends promising to help. I would hate to put something out with bad formatting!

    I totally agree, Allison.

    Thank you, Marcella!

  6. Actually, I don't think you will lose them if you put this out as a second edition. I know some authors who have done that and linked the old books with the new versions.
    Good luck!

  7. I wish that was true, Melissa. I checked with Amazon and ARe and, because I'm replacing an ebook with an ebook, the old ones go away. People who kept theirs seem to have had print editions that they added an e-version of. They seem to think I'm SOL. :-(

  8. I love the New cover!
    Good luck with the self publishing!

  9. Oh, thanks, Sullivan! I value your opinion, so I'm delighted that it works for you!

  10. The new cover is pretty damn spiffy!

    If you ever wanna talk self pubbing let me know I will be dropping some self pubbed stuff this summer and from here on out. :)

    You are gonna kick ass at it.

  11. Thanks Tuck! And I appreciate the offer. Carolyn Crane has been hard at it already and she's being all lovely and helpful, too.

  12. Well, who'da thunk it? Congrats on the decision, of course. Will you self-pub Wyoming too?

  13. Great cover. Enjoy the ride! :)

  14. Ooh, interesting question on Wyo Trucks, KAK. I would have to ask for rights back on that. AND do all the conversion. I wonder if it would be worth it?

    And thanks Linda!

  15. Good luck with the self-pub adventure, Jeffe. I'm sure it'll work out great for you. A friend of mine recently went that way with her new series (Shameless Plug: Silver James - Moonstruck, with the first book Blood Moon just recently released). It sounds like a lot of work, but it seems like it's working well for her.

    Self-pubbing a backlist, or doing it when you've already got books out there, seems like the best way for it to work. I'm not sure how well it'd work for someone like me, with no following and no experience. I keep envisioning myself making less than I invested getting the book out there - and then I run fast in the other direction.

  16. I agree, B.E. - for a totally new author, it would really be an uphill climb with no support. Taking a backlist book out there is an entirely different animal.