04 January 2012

One Year In (and a bit) as a Self-Pub

I've now been (self-)published for a year and a month.  My bibliography boasts ten whole books (including compilations).

Being a self-published author can be a strange experience.  By self-publishing, I attached a label to myself.  I've found that if I'm not careful a set of opinions and attitudes will be ascribed to me purely because I'm self-published.

I'm not someone who runs around predicting and celebrating the imminent collapse of some hidebound traditional publishing monolith.  Most of the books I buy are put out by 'traditional' publishers and (while the industry does have issues) I fully expect it to adapt to the changes and continue to produce books I want to buy.  [Hopefully the basic contracts offered to authors will improve, but the industry as a whole isn't a bad thing.]

I'm also not someone looking for a publishing contract.  I love the freedom of self-publishing.  I love not having to leap through hoops to get my books out there, to not be in the position of, basically, begging for a chance to tell my stories.

Sure there's some un-fun facets of self-publishing.  It's always a strange experience to be reading through an enjoyable blog or article and to run up against "If it was worth publishing, it would have been published" attitude.  Or "people who self-publish are too impatient to 'pay their dues'".  Or "I've never read a self-published book which I thought should have been published".  Not to mention the seemingly insurmountable issue of obscurity and reviews.  If you pursue reviews, you can find yourself as much a petitioner for reviews as you were for publication.

To many readers I am not a "real" author, or I'm an author with an "approach with caution" tag - one whose books will only be read on direct personal recommendation from trusted fellow readers.

But I've still found an audience.

I've sold over three thousand ebooks (which is a relatively small amount to some, but still seems an enormous number to me).  I've received reviews and ratings ranging from one-star to five-star.  I've had actual fan mail.  I was shortlisted for an award.  My sales reached their high point in November and have dropped a fair deal since then, but I am still steadily selling, and every day or two I come across another review which makes me smile (or grind my teeth, or groan).

It has been - and continues to be - a blast.


  1. Congratulations on reaching the milestone, and good on you for not second guessing your decision. I hope your stories continue to grow and find the audience they deserve.

    I think attitudes will change over time, but I do think that there will remain some level of stigma attached to self-published work. It wasn't *that* long ago that the phrase was somewhat justifiably synonymous with 'unreadable dreck'.

    Now though the wheel is turning and the idea of the artist wanting to go it alone has gained real legitimacy. Which is good for me as a reader, because I get access to a lot more stories that would *never* have been published (the dizzying rise of the superhero novel is a case in point, though I haven't dipped my ladle in that pot of soup just yet). Small independent artists have really only begun to come into their own in the last decade, and the publishing world has been at the tail of that change.

    The fact that the technology effectively files the serial numbers off. Browsing Amazon, for example, I have no great visibility of whether a kindle title is self-published or a release from a major publisher (except that the cover will tend to suck in the former case and the price will be above average in the latter...). Eventually it will all start coming down to word of mouth, reviewer ratings and "if you liked that you might like this" recommendations.

    Er, I started blathering, didn't I? I will stop. Congratulations again on the fantastic body of work (eight novel-length publications in a year? Try doing that in the modern publishing industry without at least three pen-names!) and I for one am very excited to see what comes next.

  2. Andrea, you're not looking for English language publishers, but if (hypothetically) I mentioned you to a French publisher who approached you to buy the French language rights, how would you receive such initiative ?

  3. @ Dave - I suspect that the "it's too much trouble to find the good stuff" attitude will prevail with many people. But since they say word of mouth is the thing which truly sells books, it's clearly possible to succeed without a publisher behind you.

    @ TheSFReader - Oh, sure, non-English language rights are an entirely different kettle of fish. [Even with English rights, if a publisher wanted to distributed the physical books while I retained the e-rights, I'd be happy - but that's fantastically unlikely.]

    I've actually already been approached for reading copies of Touchstone by an Indonesian publisher. Don't know if that will go anywhere, but it did make me smile.

  4. (Re-reading the post)
    "But I've still found an audience."


  5. Congratulations on reaching the year mark. I am very glad you have self-published your wonderful books/stories. It has introduced me to several outstanding books that I have recommended to many friends, who also have bought your e-books.

    I am happy that sites like Smashworld, Goodreads, Amazon even exist. Without them, I think many of us would lose a lot of excellent books/stories from authors that wouldn't have otherwise been published for one reason or another.

    Looking very forward to reading any future books/stories you write and share with us.

    Congratulations once again.

  6. Maggie SilverthornSunday, 08 January, 2012

    Good authors like you are being called Indie Authors. No more to be belittled than Indie Movies. Heck you've inspired me to finish the cookbook I've been working on for years.

  7. I agree that "Indie" has a better sound than self-published! There are some great indie authors out there (I include you in that), and some not so great ones. What I like about finding new indie authors is that I get a chance to try something I wouldn't normally read, usually at a price that doesn't make me cringe. Even when I try an author who I end up not liking, I still admire the fact that they gave it a shot.

    It will be interesting to see how the book world evolves over the next few years!

  8. Congrats on your milestone! My opinion of self-pubbed authors has changed over the last year and half.

    I basically categorize two ways--those that put in effort and those that kind of toss up what would be the first draft for most writers (self-pubbed or otherwise). And is not always spelling/grammar, its sometimes simple mistakes like keeping the age of your MC straight across the entire 30 page novella.

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your works (I'm reading Medair right now and then I have Stained Glass so at least I can occupy myself while I wait) in the future :)

  9. Thank you all. :) [And good luck with your cookbook Maggie.]

    I've just been correcting the embarrassing number of typos in GE. Will definitely not be setting release dates in future.


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