Why self-publish? It is a question that gets asked a lot. A question that has a huge assumption at the heart of it, it assumes you can simply choose between the traditional publishing route and self-publishing. You can’t. You can choose to submit your work to agents, hope that one of them decides to accept you as a client, hope they can get a publisher to read your work and finally hope that the publisher will (eventually) publish it. There’s a lot of ‘hope’ in that process. If you really want to understand how near-impossible it is to get published traditionally (and to read a far superior post to this about self-publishing) check out ‘The State of Self Publishing’ on the great Hugh Howey’s blog (http://www.hughhowey.com/the-state-of-self-publishing/). Please come back here after you do. Please. Seriously, I need readers.
So, why aren’t I trying the traditional publishing route? Simple answer, I did try and failed. I sent Sovereign Nation, or variations on it depending on their submission guidelines, to dozens of agents. Really, dozens. I got responses back from around one in four. Mostly stock rejection letters, a few took the time to give some feedback (which I did try and integrate into my next draft), but all rejected it. This didn’t leave me with a lot of options in the traditional publishing world.
Self publishing left me with an opportunity to get my work out there that wasn’t available anywhere else. Do my low download figures prove the agents were right to reject my manuscript? Maybe. Then again, I am only just learning about how to promote my books so maybe I can grow my readership over time as I learn to get better at it. Maybe people will like it and encourage others to read more. All of this can take time, something I have when I control my publishing and something the big publishers wouldn’t give me.
But why do it, I hear you ask, if you aren’t going to make tons of money straight away? Simple. I am going to write anyway. I have been writing and creating stories all my life, I am going to continue doing it. Even if I never get more than a couple of downloads of each story I will keep going, because I can’t not keep going. Writing, like photography and archery, is something I do for fun (I must remember this next time I get stuck on a plot). So, if I am going to do it anyway, why not publish it and see if anyone else likes it? I have yet to hear a good argument against that. Would it be nice to have a huge hit and make tons of money so I can live as a writer and not have to try and do a day job? Of course it would! But, if it doesn’t happen, I am going to carry on writing anyway.
Ok, I have only got around three hundred and thirty-ish downloads of the two works I have got out there at the moment – so what? If you had told me five years ago that I would have a finished novel and a novella published online that had been downloaded a combined total of over three hundred times I would not have believed you – and I would have told you I’d be happy just to have one copy downloaded and liked by someone I did not know and was not realted to.
For me the question is not ‘Why self-publish?’, the questions is ‘Why wouldn’t I self-publish?’