If you aren't sure whether to self-publish, ask yourself what you want.

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thothguard51

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Agent won't know unless you list the title and name you plan on using in your blog or authors web site, in which case, a google search might find it...
 

heza

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thothguard and shelleyo, you're right. I'm planning to keep blogs and websites for them separate--not to hide things, but just because the audiences are different--so the agent won't know. I'll only mention it after I've mesmerized them and it's too late!
 

profen4

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I realize the discussion has moved on from the OP, but I couldn't really find a good place to post this question and I didn't want to give it a whole thread.

I'm currently trying to decide whether I should self publish, and I've asked myself what I want out of it. I'm confident self publishing will give me everything I'm seeking from it. What I'm not so sure about is whether there are risks I hadn't considered.

I'm okay with nothing ever really coming from the novels I choose to self publish. However, I also want to commercially publish an MG novel. If I self publish under a completely different name and don't reference my self published work in my MG commercial query, will my having self published hurt my chances to commercially publish a different work in a separate category?


I'm kind of wondering why you want it kept so separate from the rest of your work. I'd understand it if you were doing two drastically different markets (i.e. kids books and erotic romance), but you said they're both MG, so you're only keeping it seperate b/c you are worried self published works might taint your reputation?

Here's what my agent told me when we had the discussion about me self publishing the series in my signature: "It's not going to hurt our chances to sell future manuscripts to publishers, but unless sales are incredible, it might not help either."

Self publishing doesn't taint a reputation. Publishing poorly does.

I think it's about being professional. Step confidently after weighing your options with your goals and own the decision. A body of work, self published or not, can be terrific marketing tools.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Cheers
 

heza

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I'm kind of wondering why you want it kept so separate from the rest of your work. I'd understand it if you were doing two drastically different markets (i.e. kids books and erotic romance), but you said they're both MG, so you're only keeping it seperate b/c you are worried self published works might taint your reputation?

I probably wasn't being very clear before. I want to commercially publish a sort of dark, epic fantasy middle grade series... two, actually. I've got a pretty specific image of what I want my brand (as much as I can control it) to look like as far as author voice, story type, major themes, etc. The series for self publishing is a campy, YA fantasy romance. It's a light-hearted, easy read--if it were visual media, it would be a quirky, made-for-tv-movie.

So they are for two different audiences and are very different styles, so I don't want to mix them up.

Thanks for the advice, profen. And I've always wanted to say that I love your covers!
 

profen4

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Oh, I see, Heza. Well I hope you have success on both fronts. Both your MG books sound like something I'd like to read so I hope I catch wind of them one of these days.

Good luck
 

S. L. Saboviec

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I've been considering self-publishing for the past week, if by "considering," I mean, "flogging it around in my brain until I'm ready to beat my head against the wall."

My story, in a nutshell, is that I used to write as a kid. I was always practical, so instead of majoring in English, I majored in something sort-of-not practical but still ended up at a corporation. For the past ten years of my life, I've been saying unconsciously, "When I retire, I'll write." The problem is that it's thirty or more years away, so one day the thought rose into my consciousness and I examined it. I finished a book and went through revisions and several rounds of CP's. I'm confident that, perfectionism aside, my book is as good as I personally can make it with my knowledge, training, and smarts.

I've been querying because that's what you do. I never gave much thought to other paths. A conversation in QLH made me come face-to-face with my assumption that I wanted to be trade published. Now I'm torn because I'm trying to decide what I want out of publishing, and I don't know what that is.

Pros and cons exist on each side, and I feel as though I'm cut right down the middle about it. I lean toward self-publishing because I like the idea that I'm taking hold of my destiny--I already work for a corporation, and I know what that looks like. I don't want that to be part of my creative side. I want to be free to do what I want to do, man, because that's how I roll. And since I have a fine income and sparkling career path, I can do this on the side, just like someone with a little etsy shop can sell their handmade crafts online.

Yet! I still want to be a writer full-time. I loved the three months I was unemployed recently, which gave me the time I needed to polish my MS. I could do it. I would love it. It's only a hobby because I'm practical, and I'm not going to quit my day job to chase a dream, when I can do the dream-chasing on the side.

Additionally, I realize I know absolutely nothing about trade publishing as a reality. Sure, I tweet and follow a boatload of agents and have read just about every blog (including the entirety of the Query Sharkives) out there. But you can't really know how something is from the outside.

Further to that, I don't have any objective source for how good my work or premise is, and therefore, I don't have any way of knowing whether it would ever be published. I don't know the industry. I don't know what's selling right now. I've been told that the market is saturated with angels, so with that little go on, I've pretty much got myself the equivalent of a quaint vampire story and should either go it alone or shelve it. But I don't know.

I guess that's the crux of the issue: I've seen people say over and over that one should make an informed decision based on all the realities of both kinds of publishing. For all my reading, I don't know what those realities are.

And this business breeds a lot of misinformation and predators.

How does one make a decision?
 

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Samantha, you put forward some really good points there, and I wish more writers would think as carefully as you're obviously doing before they made any decisions. In my mind, you're already ahead of the pack just by being aware that these issues exist.

I've been querying because that's what you do. I never gave much thought to other paths. A conversation in QLH made me come face-to-face with my assumption that I wanted to be trade published. Now I'm torn because I'm trying to decide what I want out of publishing, and I don't know what that is.

You're the only person who can work this out for you.

Try not to get distracted by things like creative control and the worry of working with big corporations: if you find yourself a good agent, then these things shouldn't be a problem if you do decide to work with trade publishers.

What's important is that you write the best books you can, and that they're published in a way you find respectful and (mostly!) stress-free.

Additionally, I realize I know absolutely nothing about trade publishing as a reality. Sure, I tweet and follow a boatload of agents and have read just about every blog (including the entirety of the Query Sharkives) out there. But you can't really know how something is from the outside.

You're right, you can't know precisely what publishing is like if you've never been involved with it. But if you find a good agent, who you get on well with and who shares your vision for your work, you'll have someone to guide you through and to advise you on how to work. Editors want their writers to be well-informed because it makes work go more smoothly, so your editor will help you too.

That's not a help at this point, I know, but I hope it's reassuring. If and when you do find yourself with a good agent and a trade deal, so long as you are polite and honest you'll be given the help you need to make it work.

Further to that, I don't have any objective source for how good my work or premise is, and therefore, I don't have any way of knowing whether it would ever be published.

Things you could try: post a section in SYW and see what people say; find a beta-reader or seven and consider their responses; pay for an editorial report on your novel; query widely, and see what agents think.

(You have put your query through QLH, haven't you? If not, get it up there today!)

I guess that's the crux of the issue: I've seen people say over and over that one should make an informed decision based on all the realities of both kinds of publishing. For all my reading, I don't know what those realities are.

And this business breeds a lot of misinformation and predators.

How does one make a decision?

It's really difficult, I know. But I meant what I said at the start: by asking these questions you're showing that you're aware of the problems you face, and that's the first step in tackling them.

I wish you the very best of luck no matter what route you take.
 

S. L. Saboviec

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How? Perhaps helpful (read, print with my compliments): www.umbachconsulting.com/pursuit.pdf. Needs updating, but basics are still sound.

--Ken

Thank you. Most of it is things I already knew, but the references are helpful. My number one question can't actually be answered by someone else, as OH has just said:

You're the only person who can work this out for you.

I'm most afraid of being bitten by the things I don't know. I guess that's life, though. When you start doing something, you're a novice. I'm working toward making connections with people who have been through stuff. Reading about it is helpful, but getting to talk to someone would be even better. I've considered posting in the CP/mentor thread asking for a SP mentor.

I'm turned off by the "the trade industry is dying and self-pub is taking over the world" people. It's almost like a cult. No, the commercial publishers aren't dying. No, self-pub isn't taking over the world. I want to be realistic about everything, not get all hyped up by the success of the top 0.01%.

What's important is that you write the best books you can, and that they're published in a way you find respectful and (mostly!) stress-free.

Maybe this is the thing that scares me most about self-publishing. I want to have a polished book. I've read the recommendations of some of the successful self-publishers. They say you need an editor that can cost upwards of $10,000. And by the way, you need three of them.

Let's be realistic here: I'm willing to put money out there. I'm ok with the cost of cover design being $500 for a good one. I even found a woman that I'm really impressed with that was recommended on the AW boards. I'm willing to pay for website design so I come across professionally. I'm willing to pay for an editor, I do want a good one, and I know that time is money. But I can't justify $30,000 in editing when I don't know if one single person will buy my book.

(Maybe this belongs in another thread, but I'm on a roll now.)

If I were starting a small business, I would put together a business plan. I'd justify the costs and expected return on investment. I'm perfectly willing to put out $2-3k and never see any money returned, though I'd like to think I could break even based on my limited knowledge and research. And maybe in my second or third book, after I know that I can sell what I create, I will spend that much money. But in my first one? I can't justify that. Until I prove myself, it's a "venture," not a "business."

I've read the terrible first pages of self-published work I would never spend my money on. I've always been good at grammar and proofreading. So I'm more in the ballpark of "a couple dozen problems, mostly commas in the wrong place." It's a cost/benefit thing: Why would I pay $10k for six misplaced commas? But I also don't want to be "that guy" because plenty of those exist and I don't need to join their ranks.

You're right, you can't know precisely what publishing is like if you've never been involved with it. But if you find a good agent, who you get on well with and who shares your vision for your work, you'll have someone to guide you through and to advise you on how to work. Editors want their writers to be well-informed because it makes work go more smoothly, so your editor will help you too.

That's not a help at this point, I know, but I hope it's reassuring. If and when you do find yourself with a good agent and a trade deal, so long as you are polite and honest you'll be given the help you need to make it work.

That does reassure me somewhat, but it doesn't get to the crux of my issue: Is my MS at all marketable or am I wasting my time looking for an agent? (I know you don't have the answer.) That's what kicked off my considering self-publishing, since it led to the question, "Do I even want to be commercially published?"

Things you could try: post a section in SYW and see what people say; find a beta-reader or seven and consider their responses; pay for an editorial report on your novel; query widely, and see what agents think.

(You have put your query through QLH, haven't you? If not, get it up there today!)

I've gone through rounds of SYW and CP's. Most recently, I got about half a dozen people's feedback on my first four chapters, which have made them stronger. And QLH, well... That's where this all started. ;) I've been trying for months to come up with a solid one. I thought I had one, everyone in QLH cheered for me, and then I got agent feedback from a contest that it didn't "sparkle." I posted it again and a couple people said they understood where she was coming from. I also saw what they saw, when it was pointed out.

So two things:

SYW is subjective. That's both good and bad. It's good because some people obviously get what I'm doing and some people don't, so I get to hear both sides of the argument. It's bad because that means there's no golden ticket. (Where's my golden ticket??)

I can't figure out if my query letter is coming across as weak because I've not followed the magic formula OR if it's coming across as weak because I've allowed the magic formula to crush the life of my story out OR if it's just not something agents are interested in. I've read every #askagent tweet in the last six months, and I know that you're not supposed to write about why you're telling the story or what you wanted to accomplish with it... But I want to. It's what makes the story sparkle for me.

Because the query letter is wholly relevant to self-publishing in the form of the book blurb, I've thought about what I would write. It would be different than the query letter. I give away too much of the plot in my query. I would add more in about world-building. To me, people who are going to read the book are interested in following a guardian angel around and experience life and tragedy through her eyes. Agents don't want me to go on about that--they're like, "Angels, got it, let's here the plot/characters/stakes."

Just to use an example of a book I recently read, The 5th Wave's blurb builds up hype around the invasion--the setting. Yes, it brings in characters, but we don't know anything but at a very general level what's going to happen to Cassie. From Goodreads, the last lines are:

But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I could change the name from "Cassie" to "Enael," and use it in my blurb because it's so general. So I ask myself: What is the point of the query letter?

I hope none of this is coming across as, "Oh, God, woe is me, I'm the only person to ever have to deal with these issues." I'm not bitter; I'm trying to find my way. I know these are the fundamental challenges for our profession. I hope that talking about it will help me (and maybe someone else someday who happens along) figure out what the right path for myself is.
 

stranger

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Maybe this is the thing that scares me most about self-publishing. I want to have a polished book. I've read the recommendations of some of the successful self-publishers. They say you need an editor that can cost upwards of $10,000. And by the way, you need three of them.

Spending 10,000 is an awful lot. In my opinion you can get great editing for 1000-2000. I normally try to pay below 500. It can be hard to find great editing at a good price but it's possible.

You can also get good cover art for around 100, but the better cover artists charge more towards 500.

There was a recent thread on kboards about the cost. I would ignore the linked blog post, but the replies gives a cross section of selfpublishers budgets. http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,159102.0.html Kboards writers cafe is a great place to check out to learn more about selfpublishing, many selfpub superstars post often there.
 
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