Having recently released “But Kisses Never Hurt Me” as a self-published book, I have been thinking a good deal about the independence this supposedly has granted me. It has, assuredly, allowed me to keep all the rights to the novella and given me freedom to do everything myself, but in that freedom, I find a certain level of confinement.
As a self-publishing author, I have to design the cover or commission someone to do so, at which point I have to pick the graphic artist, give her a vision for the cover, or trust her to come up with something amazing on her own. I have to do all my proofreading, all my editing, all my formatting. When my EPUB file comes back with errors, I have to comb through the code and eliminate the problem. (For a great resource on fixing errors and handling EPUB formatting, check out this post by George Hamilton).
Once my book was ready to be released to the world, I had to pick my platforms and read all the agreements with the various platforms: Google Play, Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, etc. (I am still in the process of trying to find a satisfactory MOBI platform, since I felt Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing gave themselves far too much power over my book as part of their goal of making their customers happy.) The book is now out in Google Books, Google Play, and Goodreads, and I am planning on exploring the Smashwords option (having found their styleguide to be most useful in further explaining the formatting for EPUB files), but I have decided to take a break to do some actual writing…something I haven’t done in weeks.
This entire experience has taught me a great deal about the publishing world, about what it takes to get a book out to its readers, but it has also made me wonder if that something that an author should do herself? We obviously can, in this technologically advanced age of ours, but is it worthwhile to do so, or is there perhaps still a place for publishers and agents? Through self-publishing, I am able to control much more, and if I had chosen to charge for the book, I would supposedly be getting a greater percentage of book sales via royalties, but I think there is a point in the self-publishing process where creativity stops and paperwork begins.
It has taken me a few weeks to iron out all the elements of my novella and make it ready for publication, and I’m not done with the distribution side yet. In comparison, I can write about ten pages (typical novel printing size of 5.5 x 8.5) per day, when I haven’t hit a plotting dilemma. That means it takes me about a month to write a full length novel, albeit in the rough-draft stage. In that same amount of time, I can do all the paperwork to get a single novel, or novella, out to the public. So I can either keep complete control of my novels and make more money per book sale, or I can write another book.
Put in that perspective, I wonder if having an agent or publisher—someone who handles some of the paperwork for me—becomes worthwhile in the long run. I may make less, but produce more, getting more stories written in the course of my lifetime and reaching more readers through the variety of books I’m able to write. If we hire experts to fix our computers and repair our cars so we don’t have to, perhaps that is the same reason why agents and publishers are still useful. They make money off our work, to be sure…but they let us get back to our job and the tasks no one else can do for us: writing our stories and reaching out to our readers.
Note: Special thanks to all those readers who have already indicated their interest in reading my novella. The eager initial response has been very gratifying!
© 2014 Andrea Lundgren