There is a lot of passionate discussion about whether self-publishing is a valid career move. I’ve learned that instead of wasting time trying to win converts, I’ll simply follow what I believe, based on the evidence I have at this point.
1) I will make more on my backlist first novel THE RED CHURCH this year than I did from its original advance. In other words, in the year it took the book to get through “traditional production.” And I can do whatever I want with it, forever.
2) My later publishing contracts tied up my rights for seven years even though the books were left for dead after a couple of years, therefore I am losing five years of potential income. In other words, I’ve actually lost money instead of earned money by publishing midlist books.
3) Many agents and publishers generally only want you to write one book a year, for their own reasons. You can sneak around it with a pen name, but unless you are JA Konrath/Joe Kimball/Jack Kilborn and display all the names, you have to work to get name rec for each. Now, NY won’t COMPENSATE you for the books they don’t want you to write. But you can certainly compensate yourself.
4) You are generally expected to write only one type of book and stick with it. Look how long it took Joe to break out as Jack Kilborn.
5) Instead of wondering about hundreds of elements beyond my control that will affect my career as a writer, I can now see the daily income and projected revenues and weigh that against the investment of time and passion. I can hope my NY lottery ticket gets plucked or I can publish 10 books and be making more than I do in my day job. I can do simple math. If I had the rights to my published books and released those I am shopping, I would have more than 10 books. And don’t think I ain’t thinking about it.
6) Any ebooks I publish on my own will give me 100 percent of net. Any book I publish through a major publisher will give me 50 percent net at best, 15 percent at worst, and that’s even assuming an advance earns out. Giving away 85 percent for virtually an entire career doesn’t inspire me.
7) Now that I know I can find whatever audience I deserve, judged on nothing but quality and talent and my willingness to connect with my audience, I am more inspired than I have ever been–to take chances, to try new things, to strive for art, to write without thought of what one or two people in New York will think. Working-class fiction is an idea I can get behind.
While I believe those who publish through traditional means will still fare the best overall, I can’t help but wonder if getting published was the worst thing I ever did for my writing career.
9) I’ll still sell in New York if I can.
10) I will still self-publish even if I sell in New York.
11) I care not one bit about stigma or what other writers, agents, and publishers think of me–I care only about what’s best for my career and how best to reach my audience.