Self-publishing, only a few years ago, meant paying sometimes big bucks to a company that would offer their services to design a cover, maybe edit your book, create the digital file for you and maybe even help with distribution channels. All of these services could be purchased a la carte or in packages. The whole notion of the money flowing from the author to the publisher was against everything I believed in.
But very recently, all that changed. Digital publishing was made nearly free through outlets like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and other sites if you were somewhat technically savvy. And the money started flowing immediately in the right direction - straight to the author.
Successful self-publishers like J. A. Konrath and Amanda Hocking emerged and more and more traditionally published authors started taking notice. Barry Eisler turned down a half-million-dollar deal from a New York publisher to self-publish a series on his own. More and more mainstream authors started giving the self-publishing route a try, most using the technology to get their backlists out there or maybe offer a shorter book or something that didn't fit the much more rigid confines of traditional publishers.
So I decided to dip my toes in the water. I took a manuscript that didn't fit the romance convention of the hero and heroine meeting in the very first chapter. The story required more setup but I loved the story and so did my crit partner. Since said partner tried self-publishing first and was having good luck with it, I went for it.
Jaxadora Design made me an awesomely hot cover for Game of Smoke and Mirrors, an erotic romantic suspense. I was very pleasantly surprised when the Kindle book started selling well immediately. Smashwords and B&N were slower going. I listed it on All Romance EBooks as well and it quickly became my fastest selling book there out of the eleven I had at the time. The best part about it was that I could neurotically check my sales several times a day, rather than wait for a royalty statement every month or every quarter, as I do for my regularly published books.
Not Enough up for sale and it sat. I didn't make my first sale for several days and I started to get nervous. It did start selling, but it still hasn't come close to the level of my erotic romance.
I wondered if my first experience had been a fluke. So I started looking at books I'd written more recently but for one reason or another, I hadn't sold. I had a book I loved, but again, it didn't fit my publisher's unofficial guidelines for a different reason - the hero had a teenage daughter who played heavily into the plot. My erotic romance publishers don't usually want anything with kids in the story.
Since Not Enough hadn't even earned enough to pay for the cover, I decided I'd have to make my own cover for the next one, just in case it too didn't sell well. So I took four Photoshop classes at my library then bought a scaled down version of the program on ebay for $50.
Employee Relations yesterday and crossed my fingers. Thankfully, it is already starting to sell well.
Lesson learned. For me at least, erotic romance sells best. It's where I've made my name and my brand.
Do I plan to quit writing for my publishers? Hell no! I'm only self-publishing books that I've already written, books that I love, hoping other people will love them, too. And I figure that expanding my backlist and hopefully growing my fan base can only help. Time will tell if my plan works. In the meantime, I'm supplementing my income and learning some new computer skills.
For readers - have you bought any self-published books? For writers - have you tried self-publishing? If so, how is it going for you?