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Self-Publishing

August 5, 2010

I have taken time off from submitting, since my twins are on vacation. Their vacation ends next Monday, which means that I’ll get back to business until Uni starts. That means three weeks of writing.

I’ve done a lot of thinking since the start of the vacation and I’ve decided to look into self-publishing before submitting to more agents (or any publishers). I really like the idea of it, and if I decide to do it, I’m doing it properly. I already have three self-publish books ordered from Amazon; Become a Real Self-Publisher, by Michael N. Marcus, a fellow She Writes member (even though he’s a male), it has great reviews and he’s got a lot of experience; Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, by Dan Poynter, this has great reviews as well; and of course Self-Publishing for Dummies, by Jason R. Rich, because I love the Dummies books.

Why am I considering this? Because the books advice how best to set up your own publishing company, and I like the idea of that. I wouldn’t use any of the companies who do the work for the authors (Lulu, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, etc.). That means I’d have to deal with all sorts of stuff, like accounting, but it shouldn’t be undo-able, especially if I set up the company in Iceland and do business from here (got to love the internet). I’d have to find a printer in the USA, as well as a distributor (since it would cost too much to have the books printed here and then sent individually to the USA — or I’d have to look into it anyway). The rest I can do online!

I know it’s a huge gamble, but I do have business education and I have tons of interest and enthusiasm. It also means that I can publish whatever I want, and don’t have to rely on having the right material at the right time for the right agent/publisher who’s only looking for one specific thing for his/her list. I read somewhere that less than 1 out of every 100.000 manuscripts is considered good, the rest is junk. To me, that either means that the rest of the manuscripts look like something written by grade-schoolers, or it isn’t the entire truth (that they’re rejecting a lot of good manuscripts because of trends, risks, etc.), or they just have really, really narrow tastes. I’m guessing the second, that there are many great manuscripts being rejected because they were not sent on the exact right time.

I queried just over 50 agents and I’ve gotten 18 rejections. I don’t know if I should see it as my story idea being bad, it’s only 18 people. The rest either won’t reply to their queries, or some might be considering. But even so, if I self-publish, I get to keep all my rights and decide for myself what to include in the books and what not. I’d possibly get less exposure (unless I become really good and clever at the advertising bit, which is the part I’m kind of looking forward to), I’d probably also sell fewer books, but I’d get better paid for each book sold. There are so many more advantages, and the disadvantages seem to be only the extra work and the risk (and possibly some snobbery against self-published authors). The extra work I can do, the snobbery is due to lessen with the increase in self-publishing, and the risk? Well, it’s time to take some.

I wouldn’t be thinking about this if I didn’t believe so strongly in my trilogy. Sure, I’ll have to change it a bit, make it into more chapters, cut out some things (again, what I’ve been considering over the past months), and then have another editor read over it for it to be 100% publishable. I’ll also have to try to find a trustworthy critique group, although I’m really scared to do so (always afraid of people taking my stuff as their own – maybe that’s newbie thinking, but it’s how I feel).

So far I’ve connected self-publishing with non-fiction books, but I’m sure there are also self-published fiction authors out there.

So, what will I do if those remaining agents contact me? Probably champ at the bit! But I’m keeping a very open mind to the self-publishing and I’m going to study it well during my first semester of Uni. Then I’m going to write the second book before publishing the first. And after the trilogy, well, I have loads more ideas, both for the USA market and the Icelandic one.

What can I say? I once wrote a Severus Snape fiction and couldn’t find a decent Snape site to host it (at the time), so I created one that is still running 6 years later, even through I had no idea how to do it to begin with. I suppose this is a similar scenario, only on a larger scale with more costs and more risks.

Question: How do you trust critique groups enough to let them see your manuscripts? Where’s the best place to find a critique group with people who aren’t afraid to say their opinions (YA fantasy/adventure)?

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