Why I’m Choosing to Self Publish

After months of contemplation, I decided to self-publish my historical-fantasy series, The Watchmage of Old New York. This is a huge sea change for me. My first novel, Song of Simon, was published by Damnation Books. It’s always been my dream to be a published novelist, and I’ve been very resistant to self publishing. But a wise man isn’t afraid to rethink his views, and I’ve come around. I’ll explain more below.

Some of you know Watchmage from JukePop Serials, where it was and is one of the most popular serials on the site. This is completely different…well, not completely, but not the same.

What I am planning is to take each story arc from the serial (there are three) and expand each one into it’s own novel, complete with added subplots and new characters. The first story arc in the serial was 90 pages. The novelized version is 275 pages. So it’s not the same old story, rather a retelling and expansion.

I’m almost done with the first draft of the second novel, and I’m aiming for an April or May launch for the first one.

But there’s so much shiny…

Why I Switched to Self-Publishing

I’m not a “do it yourself” kind of guy. The idea of having to create (or hire people to do) every aspect of a novel is intimidating. I only know two things: writing, and teaching writing.

So why am I switching? Creative Control. I realized that there’s nothing a publisher can do (outside of the Big Six) that I can’t do on my own. I can hire an editor, layout artist, cover artist, etc. It’s a big financial investment, but it allows me to be master of my own destiny. Damnation Books has been good to me (don’t believe the negative hype. It’s not a favorable contract, but they aren’t scam artists, and they produce excellent fiction), but I’m not willing to sign a long term contract for a series. Since Watchmage isn’t appropriate for DB anyway, I’d have to find a new publisher.

Traditional publishing and self publishing are both headaches. The traditional route offers free editing, layout, and cover art. Great, but you lose control over those aspects, along with pricing. You also have to wait a long time, as many publishers don’t accept simultaneous submissions. The submission process kills me. I’m tired of waiting.

Self publishing gives you more power, but with great power comes great responsibility. If you mess up, you have no one to blame. And there are plenty of places to mess up. With such a heavy financial investment, there’s a lot on the line. There’s also a lack of gravitas with self publishing, though this is starting to fade.

I will never disagree with Neil Gaiman

I suppose the real reason I resisted is because of my own ego. I started writing professionally about 15 years ago. There was no self publishing beyond Xerox copies stapled together. There was barely an Internet. The dream was to sign on with a publisher, and that’s the dream I stuck with. I achieved that dream, but it wasn’t as sweet as I expected. There’s no marketing from small publishers beyond the first few months, and even the Big Six only market the books that people show interest in. Either way, the author has to do most of the promotion. If I have to do the heavy lifting, I’m gonna keep all the control.

Yeah, I’m terrified. This is a huge endeavor, and it would be so much easier to just lay back and let a publisher do all the work. It’s still very tempting, and if Tor or Del Rey sent me a letter right now that they wanted to look at a draft, I’d send it out right away. But that’s not going to happen.

I’m already a published author, so my fragile ego and desperate need for approval is intact. Times change and dreams change. So can I.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!


9 thoughts on “Why I’m Choosing to Self Publish

  1. So true that there are so many places to mess up. That’s the part that scares me – the great responsibility. Good luck on self publishing! It’ll be interesting to follow somebody who is experiencing both the traditional AND self.

  2. Good luck. I’m considering going the self published route for a few novellas of mine, but the whole thing is really quite scary. I wouldn’t even know how to go about finding a cover artist, and I don’t fancy having to rely on my own mediocre editing skills!

    • I’d recommend networking with some self-published people. The ones I’ve found are very nice and will help out. Just remember to help them in turn. The only way the system works is if we’re willing to help each other out.

      This is true of everything, but especially for struggling creative types. Even a lot of the established authors give back by helping out new ones. It’s nice when they remember what it was like to live on Ramen and dreams…mostly Ramen.

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