For the next month, I'll be blogging all about publishing, particularly for beginners. Last week I wrote an article, Self-Publishing: What it is, Who it's For, And How it Works, and next week I'll write about how to publish traditionally. Today, I have self-published author Lucinda Whitney here tell why she chose self-publishing.
Lucinda Whitney was born and raised in Portugal, where she received a master’s degree from the University of Minho in Braga in Portuguese/English teaching. She lives in northern Utah. When she’s not reading and writing, she can be found with a pair of knitting needles in winter, or tending her herb garden in the summer. She also works part-time as a substitute teacher. You can check out her books here.
My Reasons for Self-Publishing
When I first started writing my book, I would have been ecstatic to receive an offer from a certain Utah publisher. Since I was writing an LDS romance, and they publish a lot in that genre, I thought that was the best way to do it.
But during the process of writing, and waiting, and learning to write better, I also learned that I had other options that were more suited to me and my book, and I decided to self-publish it instead.
Here are my reasons for it:
1. I didn’t like the available options. The more I learned about that Utah publisher, the less I liked it. Sure, they do publish a lot in the genre of LDS romance (both historical and contemporary) but that was as far as the appeal went. Other options in traditional publishing, namely the large US Christian publishers, don’t recognize the LDS genre so self-publishing became more and more appealing to me. Going with a small(er) publishing house didn’t make sense either since I’d essentially be paying someone to be a middle-man to my book.
2. I wanted to keep control over the cover and title of my book. What if I went with a publisher who didn’t like the title of my book or published it with a cover I didn’t like? There are many, many examples of this in traditional publishing and, to me, it just didn’t make sense that I let someone else make these decisions for me. Keeping my creative freedom was an important factor.
3. I wanted to be able to have higher royalties. When I learned how little authors signed with that publisher make (which happens with most traditional publishers) in comparison to the percentage offered by Amazon, there really was no competition. Keep 70% vs. 8-10% (or less)? No brainer. Also, with Amazon I get to see those royalties on a monthly basis instead of twice a year.
4. I wanted to price it fairly. Over $10 for an ebook? No, thank you. Why would a reader want to try a new author when her book is priced so high? I was able to price my ebook and paperback competitively while allowing me to retain control over the royalties (see point 3).
5. I wanted to work at my own pace. Sure, there are pros and cons to not having a boss looking over my shoulder, but by making goals and keeping a schedule of my own, I was able to learn as I went and put things aside when I had to (family commitments, health problems, etc). Life still goes on and it’s good to know I can make adjustments as they are needed without worrying about a tight deadline.
I’m not saying this is easy and it’s certainly not for everyone. If something goes wrong, I don’t get to hand over the problem to someone else. It’s all on me. A lot of authors still prefer to go with a traditional publisher and they like it. Nowadays, we have the means and the ends to choose which is best and, fortunately, the writing community is a very giving one where more experienced authors share with the beginners, making it possible to make that choice.
Early on, another thing I decided was to publish a quality book. Just because I didn’t have the reputation and the means of a publishing house behind my book didn’t mean I could use that as an excuse to publish an inferior product. I didn’t want to do it all by myself because there were aspects of publishing that I didn’t know how to do, or couldn’t do. I ended up getting a part time job as a substitute teacher which enabled me to save the money I needed to hire a professional editor, cover designer, paperback formatter, and marketing specialist. I spent more money in publishing my first book than most author friends I know, but I have no regrets about the quality of it. Again, this is why self-publishing offers so many options because authors are able to get their book published in the way it most suits them and their budget (which sometimes is not always a good thing, but that would be material for another post).
For anyone looking to publish their first book, the best advice I have is to be informed. Don’t sign a contract with a publisher that’s not good for you, and don’t start a self-publishing career you’re not ready to take on. Read and research, and then choose.
See you guys next week as I tackle traditional publishing!