As you may know, I self-published my debut novel The Breeders this summer. I did this with no small amount of trepidation. What if no one bought it? What if lots of people bought it, hated it and pulled out the pitch forks? My mind spun the horrible disasters wheel and feared where it'd land. (On a side note, I'd really like a horrible disasters wheel). Six months later, the results have been overwhelmingly positive (grammatical errors aside). Below is a short list of reasons why I think it is smart to self-publish even if you are seeking out a traditional deal.
Benefit One: Putting your book for sale forces you to act like a "real" author.
I've been writing novels for five years. Few people knew it. I did it in quiet moments, alone in my bedroom or at a cafe. I didn't talk about my writing. Heaven forbid I'd get caught in one of those conversations where someone asks what I'm writing and I awkwardly mumble the plot before I can segue-way into, "What's new with you?"
Then I put my book up for sale.
Now practically everyone I know is aware I'm a writer and most of them have read the book (gasp). I can no longer hide. But, that's okay. I have to learn to talk intelligently about my book. I have to lift my head and say, "Yes, I'm a writer," when asked. And I've learned it's not nearly as horrifying as I thought.
Benefit Two: Learn to market, baby.
At least one million posts have already been written about the writer's role in marketing. We must do it all. Some pre-published authors are already marketing, but if they have nothing to sell, it's difficult. You can blog, Facebook (is this a verb?) and Tweet, but it's hard when there's little to say. Now that my book is for sale, I've taken social media seriously. There's nothing more motivating than having fans find you on Facebook or Twitter. You're building a fan base and, yeah, you're going to need one of those.
Benefit Three: Money!
Right now I'm making money. Yes, right now. It's not a lot. I can't quit my day job, but I am making some dough which, if my math serves me right, is more than none. There have been indie authors that have made hundreds of thousands of dollars and then went on to sign and for an even bigger deal. In my mind more money is better than less money. Why not make money while you wait?
Benefit Four: Agents will still represent you if you self-publish.
There was a time when agents wouldn't touch you with a ten foot greased up fishing pole if you self-published. That time is dead. Many indie authors are finding agents after they self-publish. Sure, sales numbers give you clout, but a good book is a good book. Don't think because you put your book on Amazon, you've closed doors.
Benefit Five: Hearing from fans.
This is by far the best reason. I love hearing from fans. It makes every moment spent alone in my bedroom writing while my friends are out seeing movies or frolicking through the gales worth it. To hear from someone that they loved my book or that it resonated with them is priceless. This reason alone makes self-publishing worth it.
Well, there you have it: my take on self-publishing. The first six months have been eye-opening and exciting. I can't wait to see what the next will bring. I'd love to hear your opinions on the subject below.