Why I Decided to Self Publish
Learning to sell myself
Self-publishing. There’s still a stigma about it, even now. For many people it still has the whiff of vanity by authors unable or unwilling to accept that their poorly-spelled, grammar-free vampire fanfic is not going to make it onto bookshop shelves.
Of course, that isn’t the reality. Yes, there probably are books on the Kindle store in need of a proofread (or three) but there are also great novels waiting to be found, ones that were either missed by publishers or put there by authors who did not want to go through the traditional gatekeepers to get their work out there.
My dream has always been to be published traditionally. The self-publisher’s lot of 50% writing and 50% marketing (or sometimes more marketing) did not seem ideal to me. I have always loved writing. In fact, I love writing so much that for (too many) years I wrote for writing’s sake, my words undiscovered and hidden in unseen folders on my laptop and never-opened notebooks. It’s only relativey recently (with the boundless encouragement of my ever-supportive wife) that I decided this hobby that I love could, with a great deal of effort, become something more.
So I put myself out there. I wrote more. I started writing articles for websites. I started a blog. I polished up some old short stories, wrote some new ones and put some online. I submitted others to competitions. Two long-dormant novels-in-progress were resuscitated and worked on (which still continues).
But still, self-publishing anything was not really on the agenda. And then, a couple of days ago, I did it.
Look, this isn’t going to be one of those “self-publishing changed my life” pieces. As of now, a grand total of three people have bought my book. One is my wife. The second is a friend and former co-worker. I don’t know who the third is yet, but I would bet it’s a friend of family member giving me a pity purchase. And hey, I’ll take it. I didn’t self-publish one evening with the expectation that I would wake up a millionaire, top of the best-seller lists and getting into Twitter spats with Piers Morgan. I know, and expect, that I will make little — if any — money from this venture. But that really isn’t the point.
The point is — experimentation. Everything I read about being an author these days focuses heavily on the marketing side, even for traditionally published writers. And here’s the thing. I’m not a salesman. I don’t know how to market myself, or my work. What I did not want to happen was to get a novel publish after years of toil and sacrifice, only to see it tank because I don’t know the first thing about marketing a book.
That’s not to say I don’t care about the fact of my short story anthology Static: Collected Stories. I do. I want people to buy it, read it and enjoy the stories as much as I enjoyed writing them. But I also want to use it as a way to dip my toe into the marketing side of writing without being too crushed if it doesn’t work out as I would hope. And let’s face it, it’s also kinda nice to have something I can point to and say “look, I’m a writer”. We all need an ego boost now and then, right?
So expect to see me fumbling around with online self-promotion over the next few months — if anyone has any tips, feel free to let me know in the comments below! Oh, and if you’re feeling generous, please buy my book and become the first person I don’t personally know to do so. What an achievement!
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If you want to read more, you can find a list of all my fiction online here, or check out my regular writing gigs for Creators Media (formerly Movie Pilot), WhatCulture and Just Football. If you’re feeling generous, donations to my Patreon page are gratefully received (and you’ll get some goodies in return!).
You can buy my first short fiction collection, Static: Collected Stories on Kindle here.