This is not a continuation of the word war between supporters of traditional publishing and self publishing (also called indie publishing) – those posts and comments are easy enough to find on other sites. My belief is that we should respect each other’s choices, whether you agree with it or not.
So. I wrote a novel. I thought the process would go something like this:
1. Query agents
2. Sign with agent
3. Book gets sold to publishing house
4. Book gets sold in bookshops
5. Write next novel.
Umm … not really.
Two years ago, I started researching the publishing world and found that authors actually had a choice. This is old news now, but then, it was huge news to me.
You could follow the traditional publishing route via an agent and publishing house; you could self-publish; or a combination of the two.
At that same time, I also started following several agents’ blogs. Some of them had great advice and generally tried to be helpful, others not so much. Over time, I developed a pretty good idea of which of those agents I would like to work with. Naïve, huh?
The point is, once I wrote ‘The End’, I had a choice to make. Traditional publishing or self publishing?
I decided to try the traditional route first. After all, I am a foreign writer who wants to sell in the USA (and abroad). I am also technologically challenged. The thought of uploading, downloading, formatting etc. etc. made my head hurt. Not even mentioning the tax issues. I wouldn’t have to deal with all of this if I had an agent and publishing house’s support.
However, right from the start I decided to not follow the blind/scattershot approach to querying. You might find this decision strange when you hear of successful authors who only found their agent after 40 rejections – but it was my choice. I had a shortlist of eight agents whose business integrity I respected, who represented my genre and whose current clients I admired. I wanted to work with either one of those eight agents, or no one at all.
You guessed it. Nada.
After querying the eight, I had one nibble and eventual rejection, six straight out rejections and one who didn’t bother to reply.
I suffered a minor crisis of faith and considered querying every agent I could find, whether I knew their work or not. But I held back and gave myself two days to sulk. (Okay, it was actually a week – or two.)
Once sanity returned, I started seriously researching the self publishing option, and guess what? Once again I had a choice; I could learn how to do all of that technological stuff myself, or use some of the wonderful, talented, very helpful people out there who can do all of that for me!
Now, if you are one of those lucky people with an equally gifted left and right brain, this would be no problem for you. DIY is the way to go.
My choice was to pay professionals to do it.
My choice was informed by the fact that I am a voracious reader. I inhale books. There are few things that annoy me more than finding typos and editing errors in a book I’ve paid good money for, and I knew I would never be able to catch all of those in my own novel. Besides, an author is never objective about their own work.
Which is why I found an editor. (Shawn MacKenzie – check out her blog for editing services and all things dragon related.)
I don’t want to spend the time away from writing to learn how to format a book for Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, etc. Which is why I found a formatter. (Heather Adkins – a magical font of information.)
Books are judged by their covers and I am not an artist. When I scroll through the Amazon lists looking for a next read, the first thing that catches my eye and makes me stop to read an excerpt is a good cover. Which is why I found a cover artist. (Stephanie Mooney – check out her portfolio.)
There are so many helpful sites about the tax issues for foreign writers; it turned out to be a no-brainer. Besides, once I geared my loins and called the US IRS office to apply for my tax number, the lady on the phone couldn’t have been more cheerful or helpful. I had my tax number in less than two minutes. I was so happy I could Fedex her some brownies. (I have no idea why my American friend finds this funny.)
Here are a few links to get you started, written by people who know much more than I do about self-publishing. Let me know if you have any questions, I’ll try my best to point you in the right direction.