October 10, 2011

self-publishing again?

This weekend, I visited family, read The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, had a long discussion with my husband about the publishing industry and what path I want to take, and I started plotting the second book in my steampunk series.

I always feel relaxed after leaving our grandparents’ house. They live in the middle of nowhere, northeast Arkansas. No phone service. No 3G. No internet. Just trees, deer, and old people. It was nice. I spent most of Saturday reading, and then while the Razorbacks were owning Auburn, I started working on my next book (shows how interested I am in football). So far, I’ve plotted twenty-odd scenes. I’m still trying to figure out where exactly I want this book to end, and what I want the next book to be about, so it may be another week or two before I finish plotting. That said, I’m excited for what I have so far.

So, you all know how wishy-washy I am. One day, I decide I’m going to self-publish. However many months later, I decide I’m going to try traditional publishing first. And only a week after that, I’m back to self-publishing (much to the displeasure of my critique partner, I’m sure). The reason I’m see-sawing is the fact that both sides—from my own mouth—have valid arguments.

In my first post, choosing toself-publish rather than go the traditional route, I argued that readers don’t care whether a book is traditionally published or self-published, and then in my next post, where I swapped sides again, I argued that readers don’t care but they’re more likely to come across traditionally published books. And now, I can only say that self-publishing feels right for me. Traditional publishing doesn’t. I feel all squirmy and uncomfortable when I consider it.

Disregarding sales numbers and all that, self-publishing and traditional publishing come down to two things: control and distribution.

For a while, I thought I wanted the latter. I wanted my book to be in bookstores, where readers will see it. Traditional publishing can give me that. But no matter how good distribution is, what if my publisher gives me a bad cover? What if they don’t market the book properly? What if my editor or my agent decides that I need to change an integral part of my novel, which ends up making it worse? What if my publisher decides not to publish my second book? What if a huge bookstore chain decides not to carry my book? Even before all that, do I spend a year querying, and then another year to two years submitting to publishing houses, and then another year or two waiting for the book to come out? I can’t release control like that. I can’t depend on a business to have my best interests in mind.

Now, with self-publishing, I have so much more control. I design the book cover. I am in charge of marketing. I decide when the book releases. I decide whether or not to make changes to my book. I decide when and what I want to publish next. I make my book available for purchase. And I don’t spend years waiting for my book to reach bookshelves. I wait months. I don’t have to deal with the middle men. I have control over every aspect of the business, except distribution. I can’t guarantee that the random reader will stumble upon my book while wandering the Ocean of Kindle or the smaller Sea of  NookBooks. My book will be among millions, and I can only hope that it will somehow float to the top of the other garbage and stand out. It’s a risk on my part. There’s no way of knowing if my book will even find readers. But, the same can be said with traditionally publishing. I could be one of the unfortunate many who never see their book take off.

Publishing is a risk. It’s a matter of finding ways to reduce the impact of that risk. With traditional publishing, I invest years of time before a book is even on a bookshelf, and I undergo several cross-my-fingers-and-hope situations along the way. With self-publishing, I invest a fraction of the time, and I undergo only one cross-my-fingers-and-hope situation—when my book goes on sale. Whether my book sinks or floats depends entirely on me and the reader. If it fails, I have no one to blame but myself. I learn from it, and when I release the next book, I have a better chance of success. In traditional publishing, if my book fails, I fail. There is no second book. The way I see it, there is less risk in self-publishing. And to be perfectly honest, I think I would be much happier self-publishing.

Now, I know that this has been an ongoing battle with a lot of different writers, and I'm sure most of you are sick and tired of hearing about it, but this blog is about my writing journey (and other things). I want to be honest with you and share what I'm going through. Maybe I'm repetitive. Maybe you don't care. But I do. If anyone else is having as difficult a time deciding what to do as I am, you're not alone. Nobody knows what to do anymore.

So there you have it, my definitive-for-now-hopefully-for-real decision on how I want to publish my work. Expect to see The Clockwork Giant available for purchase in the next few months. I’m just waiting for my critique partner and my husband to read the second draft of my book so I can make whatever changes are necessary. Then I’ll announce the release date and start promoting. I’m looking at a December/January release, as things stand.


  1. I do understand the roller coaster you're on, Brooke. Both traditional and self-publishing have their merits, but in the end, you have to choose the one that leaves you breathless with excitement, not the one that makes you "feel all squirmy and uncomfortable when I consider it."

    I've got your back, no matter your path.

  2. Good luck on your self publishing venture, Brooke. And I pray that your upcoming book will be a success.

    As for what platform to choose, self publishing or traditional, it really depends on what will work for you. As Darby has said, each has its own merits. Nevertheless, this is quite an exciting plan.

  3. Hmm, perhaps you could divide and conquer? Self-publish the steampunk series while striving for traditional publication with your other novels. Just a thought.

  4. Good luck, Brooke! I know what it's like to flip back and forth between the choices.

  5. I just read the description of your book. Sounds exciting. I'm glad you decided to go with your gut and follow the publishing path that feels right for you. Good luck!