I know this is a hard concept to get across, because I even bought into it too to some extent.
It’s engrained in us from the moment we take an interest in writing.
Workshop your books. Get beta readers. Find an agent. Get it edited. If it’s good it will find a publisher.
It’s a complete lie.
Authors are trained in this because it’s a gatekeeping practice specifically meant to keep publishing in business. It’s a vanity for the publishers and agents to be able to take a large piece (usually more than 75% of what you would have gotten as an author by the time all is said and done) of your finances in order to provide some editing and slap a cover on a book.
Now for some authors, since the cost of this can be around $1,500-$3,000 per book for a professional quality job, need this just to get their book out there.
But there’s a lot you can do yourself, especially if you’re willing to put in a 2-3 year investment into a business like any other business.
There was a big stigma around “self-publishing” that it even lasted into 2016-2017 for me. I took pride in being able to say “I’ve never self-published” to people attacking me on the internet as “not a real author.”
But it didn’t matter.
Being able to self-publish just means taking the full piece of the pie. You have to learn formatting, you have to learn business practices, you have to learn marketing, but honestly you should be doing this all as an author anyway if you want to succeed.
I watched a fellow steampunk author through a major publisher coming up around the same time I did, getting about similar reviews on the first book of their series, and watching the publisher give next to zero support on the marketing end. This is what happens with most books that come out, unless you’re a megastar.
You’re not getting book tours, you’re not getting media, you’ll just have a book an hope it gets out there on a shelf.
Well, this person confided in me how much they were making from the book. It was dismal. And once the “newness” faded off, there was nothing there, the book stopped selling like most books in their cycle.
Meanwhile, my steampunk series kept going because I learned marketing tricks and kept them rolling myself, tending to my own business. I just ran a kickstarter repackaging the books that have been out for 2 years and making an extra $1,300 on it. What publisher would do or allow this?
The answer is none.
Publishers are running in the same antiquated system, and they just want to throw a book out there and “see if it sticks.” If it doesn’t, they have a million other chumps who are willing to work for nearly nothing for the pleasure of saying “I’m published by a REAL publisher.”
The only point is self-congratulations. Vanity. You do not need them, authors.
They need you to keep buying into the mindset that you need validation.
And the funny part is, you’ll start writing better books once you don’t want validation, because you’ll be writing more honestly, with more confidence. It’s a necessary step to get you to the point where your writing matters.
This holiday season, make the leap. Cut out publishers.
My first self-published book is a comic, Flying Sparks #0, featuring short stories from my very popuplar kickstarter series. Get it here in print or digital.