I’m in a few author groups on Facebook, and recently someone was talking about their novel in progress, and was asked if they were going to self-publish or attempt to get an agent and a publisher.
I honestly can’t remember what the answer was because I immediately began to consider the implication of the question. Attempting to traditionally publish my novel never even occurred to me over the seven years I was working on it… off and on.
Why not? Aside from the stigma of self-publishing basically being a non-issue these days, the truth is that an author doesn’t need a big house publisher, or even a small traditional publisher to put out a quality book that can be successful. Indie-authors Nick Cole and Jason Anspach have enjoyed incredible success with their Galaxy’s Edge series. They wrote some quality science fiction novels, had some kick-ass covered illustrated, and new how to market them in a way that would get them noticed by their target audience. If you’ve ever listened to Nick Cole talk about how they did it in a podcast, he’ll tell you that as successful as Galaxy’s Edge is doing, he know other authors who are doing even better.
And if you Google “self-publishing success stories” you can find a number of examples of authors who didn’t need a publisher to strike gold. It does seem they are often Sci-Fi/Fantasy, paranormal, or romance, but still… the potential is there.
Bottom line: a self-published author can be a success.
Of course, my path to success will be a bit more difficult. As readers of this blog know, I’ve been struggling at times to really settle on what the genre of my book is. I’ve used lad-lit a lot recently, and while I think it generally fits that description, I worry that marketing it as such might turn off potential women readers… who I do think will enjoy the story as well.
I’ve skimmed lots of articles on achieving success in self-publishing. There’s plenty of different marketing strategies out there and not every strategy will work for every book. I’m still at a stage where I’m thinking about the product itself before the actual promotion. And I think about my process in choosing books to read.
I scan covers. Why? The old saying goes “you can’t judge a book by its cover”, to which I say “the hell I can’t.” If a cover looks like crap, I interpret that as a sign the author doesn’t believe in their product enough to invest in their work. Hey, maybe the next great American novel has a shitty cover and I’ll never read it… but that’s just the way it is. Covers tell you so much about a book, and in the era of online book buying, you’re looking at thumbnails and titles before you’re even clicking on the book to find out what it’s about… so yeah, the cover needs to be good looking and genre appropriate.
Look at the Galaxy’s Edge covers. They’re amazing.
I’ve also invested in a really nice cover (to be revealed later) and formatting services for the paperback. It has to be done. It may not be the world’s most beautiful cover. But, I think it does the job. The cover concept was one I put a lot of thought into. My goal, as someone writing contemporary fiction that could be described as lad-lit is to appeal to male and female readers, and so my cover does not scream “lad-lit” the way many lad-lit covers do. But, I’ll talk more about the cover later when I’m ready for a cover reveal.
And I’m currently strategizing how to market this thing so that I can actually achieve sales when it comes out. Maybe even enough sales to buy my morning coffee everyday. And hey, if it doesn’t, I’ll try again. But, it’s becoming clearer all the time that you don’t need a publisher to be a success. Success takes effort, no doubt, but it’s an effort anyone can achieve without some company taking a huge chunk of your royalties when they’ll still expect you to do all the marketing anyway.