Why choose self publishing?

It’s a good question really?  Sure, ten years ago, I wouldn’t even have been considering self publishing my book.  I would have resigned myself to the whole rigmarole of finding an agent, who then finds a publisher, who then finds an editor etc etc.  The whole process would have taken me years of my time and a hefty amount of plucky resilience.  I would have gone to the stationery store and bought  a pretty,new file which I would entitle ‘Rejections’.  My poor little fragile ego would have taken a bashing and many times I might have given up the ghost and ‘got a proper job’ instead.

However times have changed.  The beauty of the internet is that it has opened up the door to people like myself.  Writers of niche books which do not have mass market appeal are now able to offer their thoughts to the world and anyone with a credit card and an internet connection has the chance to join the party.  At the moment, it’s like a street party and anyone is invited.  I would predict however that, just like any evolutionary cycle, it will be survival of the fittest before long.

So what makes you ‘fit’ in the self publishing world?  I would say that approaching self publishing as a business is the best way to go.  Seeing yourself as a professional who is duty bound to put quality work out into the world and package it as professionally as an established publisher would is essential to success.  Building a robust author platform is also a must.  You can’t be a reclusive Lee Harper type anymore.  No, no, no.  Now you’ve got to get out there and tweet and poke and post and link like your life depended on it.  Truth is that choosing the self publishing route as a writer doesn’t always leave you much space for writing.  And essentially, writing is what I love to do.

Sure I am enjoying learning about all this marketing stuff.  Truth be told, I am becoming a bit of a geek really.  I find myself downloading books about online marketing, building followers, creating platforms, branding, finding my authentic voice, publishing by the moon calendar… you name it, I am reading it.  I have spent whole weekends rebuilding my website, and lost what feel like months of my life trying to decipher twitter. (I still don’t know my @ from my elbow!)

There’s another reason why I have chosen self publishing and that is my location.  I live in New Zealand.  Not just in New Zealand, I live in Dunedin which is one of the southern most cities in the world.  In New Zealand, sheep outnumber people 4 to 1 and sheep don’t buy books.  Due to its isolation, books in New Zealand cost A LOT.  Your average paperback is around $25 which is double the minimum hourly wage.  In this country, unless you are an ex Rugby player or a soap opera actress or both (I am neither) the chances of even getting a foot in the door of a publisher are greatly diminished.  Even once your foot is in and you nab an elusive publishing deal, your sales figures are only likely to get into hundreds.  It’s not a great numbers game really.  Factor in the wait time between being accepted by a publisher and making it into print and suddenly you are collecting a pension before your first royalty check for $3 or thereabouts hits the doormat.  I am not a very competitive person.  I don’t fancy my odds.

So I have chosen to self publish.  It’s not the easy route.  I am developing a Jack of all Trades attitude and, I fear, mastery of none.  But you know what?  I am having a ball.  I love the idea of taking my destiny in my own hands.  I like ‘workin’ it’ like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and putting myself out there day after day.  It’s fun learning about SEO (WHAT?!?) and meta tags (double what?!?).

So why choose self publishing?  Because I am lucky that I can.  Because I have a product that I am proud of.  Because I want to share my message with as many readers as I can. Sure, I live in the back of beyond but I have the internet and I am darned well going to use it!

Why have you chosen the self publishing route?  Any cautionary tales for those of us just venturing out into the big bad world of self pub?  Any of you ex-Rugby-playing-soap-stars who still chose this route??  Love to hear your thoughts!  Post a comment to make me smile!

Kettle’s boiled – it’s teatime!

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