Choosing to Self-Publish

As I browse blogs written by those in the writing industry, providing advice for amateur authors like myself, there is pretty much only one piece of advice for the question “should I self-publish?”.

That answer is: NO.

I’ve just handed my first-ever manuscript off to someone for it’s first reading as part of the editing process. I’m planning on self-publishing, and as such I’ve been looking into what that means.

There are three types of self-publishing: vanity, subsidised, and print-on-demand (POD). Vanity publishing is where you pay a conventional printer to create a run of books and costs thousands of dollars. Subsidised self publishing also involves conventional printing presses, but part of the costs are paid by the publishing/printing firm & they assist you with marketing in return for a share of the sales.

Print-on-demand utilises newer printing technology that produces books on an individual or short-run basis. It can potentially cost very little up-front, and POD places can offer various services (for a fee) to help you distribute your book. It seems too good to be true, and it probably is: marketing a book is a lot of work.

I can’t tell you whether you should self-publish your book or not. What I can tell you is why I am opting to self publish Speak for the Dead.

The first thing about Speak for the Dead that had me leaning towards POD is the length. It is a “tight” story, compact and fast-paced. Clocking in at less than 45,000 words it is too short for a conventionally published novel. Self-publishing allows me to put this novella into print and sell it for less than a full-priced novel.

The second thing was the difficulty I’ve been having in pinning down the genre of my novella. Though it deals with crime, it is not a crime novel (which tend to be police procedurals), nor do I think it qualifies as a thriller (there is no sense of danger for the protagonist). That pretty much leaves me with the generic “teen” or “mainstream”. No joy there. Using POD lets me off the hook a bit with the whole pigeon-holing bit.

Thirdly, POD gives me the best of both worlds between “seeing my book in print” and “eBook”. eBook is obviously the easiest format to promote my novella in, but there is a certain satisfaction in having an actual physical book to hold. I’m still part of the old guard, I prefer novels (though there is something to be said for reading books in the dark on my iPad), and I’m most likely to read something new by picking up a novel at a discount book sale (do you know how expensive novels are in Australia???).

Finally, the thing that actually set all of this in motion, was that in conjunction with the NaNoWriMo winner rewards, I can get a half-handful of copies of my novella printed for free. So, even if I don’t sell a single copy & even if I can’t be bothered to market it one bit, I will still have my own printed novel. That makes me pretty happy.

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