Why Self-Publish?

Recently, I decided to publish a short story of mine using Kindle Direct Publishing.

My reasons were pretty simple:

  1. I had a finished something that I thought people might enjoy reading, but as a single, short story, it wasn’t the sort of thing I felt would be a good fit for trying to publish the traditional way.
  2. I was wanting to figure out how hard/simple self-publishing through Kindle is.I mean, I’ve always kind of wondered. Haven’t you? It’s something a lot of us aspiring  writers think about, right? I considered this to be kind of a tester; if I liked it, I would consider submitting other good-fit-for-self-publishing works (GFSPW)  in the future.  What is a GFSPW? I’ll get there.
  3. It just seemed like it would be fun. I think about doing things “one day,” but don’t always follow through. It feels good to follow through.

So my short story, “The Memory Thief,”  (Do you want to read it?? Click HERE) came out and several people read it and gave me good feedback, which felt really good. I didn’t make much money out of it or anything, but that wasn’t really why I did it (not this time anyway). See, Kindle has two royalty options if you self-publish. Depending on the price of your book, you can chose the amount of royalties you receive (generally 70% or 30%). You can read about that at kdp.amazon.com. But, anyway, I ended up choosing the 30% option because I didn’t want to ask more than $0.99 for my short story. If you do the math on that, you’ll see that I’d have to sell a whole lot of copies to make any kind of money.

But the whole process was really fun, and it got me thinking about how we pre-judge self-publishing as a last resort sometimes when, really, it might be the best option for that particular little manuscript you have sitting around on your desk.

The Memory Thief Cover

Here are some reasons self-publishing might be the best fit for your story:

  1. You want to be in control of when your book is released (and how much you make from it). I got to thinking about this. Let’s say  I had a book that I knew people would be interested in reading,  so I choose the 70% royalty option and price my book at $4.99. I could potentially make a decent amount of money, a lot sooner than the author who gets his or her book published the traditional way, particularly if I invested a little in advertising. That’s something to think about if you want to make your living from your pen, and do it fast.
  2.  You are willing to be more than just a writer, or at least willing to ask others for help.  The way technology works today (social media, Twitter, vlogs) gives creative types a means to be our own managers in an unprecedented way. However, you do have to work. Furthermore, if you are self-publishing something you have written, you also want it to be as polished as it can be. To take advantage of all the possible opportunities and make your book stand-out amidst the plethora of self-published works, it’s going to take either a versatile person who can edit, graphic design and knows something about SEO and/or marketing. Or it’s going to take asking/ hiring other people to do those things. If you can do that, self-publishing might be a good fit for you.
  3. You have a GFSPW. Totally a term I made up, and I told you I’d explain what that means, so here’s what I think it means. You might have a GFSPW (Good for Self-Publishing Work) if:
    1. You are previously unpublished but you have written: a collection of poetry, a short story or anthology of short stories. This kind of stuff is extra hard to get published the traditional way (unless, paradoxically, you are published already…), but if you get it out there initially through self-publishing it can be a good first step for your future endeavors….and…people get to see into your mind a little, which is very satisfying for authors and poets, in particular.
    2. You are writing genre fiction that falls into the romance (or paranormal romance), mystery, sci-fi or fantasy category. Maybe your book, or series of books, isn’t something that you feel would stand out to publishers. However, with a genre like this, you can feel pretty confident that if it’s well-written and well-advertised, people will download it on Kindle. A TON of self-published authors make a nice living by being in control of their own genre-fiction.
    3. On the other hand, you could also have a good GFSPW if you are publishing something that doesn’t really fit into a box. Publishing houses like works with a clearly defined genre/readership. You could have something great, but maybe it’s just a little bit of a square peg to the round hole. For instance, my mom wrote a book (that is my next project, and one I also plan to self-publish), and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to tie  it to one specific genre, or even two. Because of that, and the fact that I really want it out there, I’m probably going to do the KDP route again.

Having your book published the traditional way is,  of course, an immense honor! There are projects of mine that I definitely would rather see the light of day via the publishing house avenue, if I am ever that fortunate. However, I also think there are plenty of reasons to choose (not settle for, choose) self-publishing as well. What about you writers out there? Thoughts?

P.S. the GFSPW acronym got me thinking about S.P.E.W. 10 points if you know what that is.

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Ode to an Irish Blessing Mug

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Today I wanted to make myself a proper cup of English tea, and in doing so I came across this mug:

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It’s pretty fortuitous that I would be using this Irish blessing mug on today of all days. And not just because it’s Irish, actually. This mug has a story.

When I was 14, I traveled back and forth between Georgia and Mississippi with my parents once a month, and we would stay in this house (the same one I live in now) for a week. This house actually belonged to my great-grandparents, and it’s special to all of my family. It’s not that it’s large or fancy or worth whole lot of money; it’s really just a small, simple house, a bit rough around the edges these days. Despite those things, it’s rich in memories for all of us, and I feel very blessed that my dad was able to bring us to live here part-time then, and that I get to live here full-time now.

Anyway, back to then. After about a year of traveling back and forth so frequently, my family stopped and stayed in GA for awhile. This house  lay empty for almost ten years. I remember the first time I brought Dane, then my boyfriend (I think it was 2010) to this house. It was so strange, like it had been frozen in time. The pictures we had kept on the fridge were still there, my old bedroom had an issue of Pointe magazine (I was a ballerina) on the nightstand and the photo I had pinned to the mirror of Josh Groban was still there. It was eerie, to be honest, as if my 14 year old self still existed and had just run out to do something.

And now, even more years later, I live here again, and new memories of my life with Dane and Kora and my Mississippi relatives are layered over those snapshots of time from that year I spent sweet time here with my parents. The fact that my dad has since had a stroke and my mom has passed away makes it seem like much longer ago than a mere 12 years (sometimes, I feel ancient) then there are the other memories-memories from when I was a little kid and I’d come here to see my Mamaw and all of my cousins and I would run around in the yard. There are more stories still, overlapping that–memories that are not my own, but my dad’s, my uncle’s, my aunt’s…stories that didn’t happen to me, but are still a very real part of who I am.

How the heck did I get to this thought-rambling with a mug full of tea (which is now cold, btw)? Here’s how: I bought that mug when I was 14, on one of our trips here.  Somehow it had become buried among my Mamaw’s Christmas mugs in the deepest, darkest corner of the kitchen cabinets. And, despite the fact that we’ve been in this house for over a year now, I only recently re-discovered it.

It just made me think of the way that memories layer themselves. They hide, are found, take on new meanings later.

When I was 14, I’m sure the words “May the road rise up to meet you,” made me think of some grand adventure that I was going to have (my LOTR fandom was at its height), but now those words make me think of what a dreamer I was then and what it felt like to have an open road of possibilities. I think of how life did not turn out the way I thought it would, but how I truly do love my life.

The roads we walk are never predictable, but we have to enjoy them as they unfold, because we only get one  road -I hope I can always stop and look back on the way the memories I’ve created along the way-the gorgeous moments and the tragic ones. Those moments overlap and combine to create one beautiful life that I am grateful for.

Thanks Irish Blessing Mug. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!