04 August 2021

I Bit the Bullet...I'm Gonna Self-Pub!

Photo by James Tarbotton on Unsplash
My, what an emotional journey I've been on trying to decide what to do while writing Son of the Siren.  And as you know, I don't really hide my thought processes or how I make decisions on this blog, so you've seen articles like Why I'm Trying to Go Traditional and On Second Thought...Maybe I Spoke Too Soon...where I hem and haw back and forth on how to bring my baby into the world. 

It seems like I shouldn't put the horse before the cart. Why should I think about publishing when the book isn't finished yet? But I've been talking to people, and they've confirmed this isn't something I should really be putting on the backburner. I need to have some kind of plan of action, and I'm coming up on the home stretch of writing anyway, so I need to start thinking about the next step. 

There's lots of work to be done before a book goes to print. I'm in the drafting stage but then there's rewriting based on developmental edits, then rewriting based on copy edits, then proofreading...a manuscript goes through several stages before it's ready for the world to see. So even though I've decided right now the way I want to go for Son of the Siren, there's still many things I have to work on. 

But I'm mostly thinking about it now because I need to save my money while I still have a job.

I mentioned that the primary reason I originally wanted to go traditional was because the author doesn't have to invest or be financially responsible for the things that publishing entails. They write the book, then they get paid for that book (although the way authors are getting paid keeps changing). But for self-publishing, you assume the costs and risks yourself. 

There is technically a way to publish for free, and ways to design your book yourself for free. So...affordable self-publishing is out there. But usually it's a risk doing things on the cheap side. There are services that I want for my book and there's a certain look and feel that I want for it, too...and it costs money. Like, lots of money. I'm trying to find cheaper alternatives to these things, but so far, here's what I've come up with from doing lots of research (all quotes are based off of an 80,000 word novel):

  • Editorial letter - $650 - $1200
  • Developmental editing - $1450 - $6,000
  • Copy editing - $1600 - $3,000
  • Proofreading - $900 - $1200
This is just for everything that goes into the manuscript before it's ready for publication. I have been pricing book formatting, ISBNs, promotion, book reviews, etc. Self-publishing is a huge investment. 

What sparked my interest in self-publishing Son of the Siren (or rather, what changed my mind) was some good conversations with experienced writers, some blog articles that kind of freaked me out, some first-person accounts from Book Twitter, and then really sitting down and thinking about how much control I want to relinquish over a book. 

That's the question, isn't it? 

I thought about my experience writing in my life. I've always done it my own way. It's what I'm used to. When I wrote for the stage, I had other people helping me, but I always had the final word on how things looked, how they felt, and how they went...I am used to being in control of my product. If I've done it this way for years, how would self-pubbing be any different (aside from more expensive and a bigger undertaking)?  

And I'm a bit of a control freak, to be honest. 

I've heard stories about all sorts of changes requested to do to someone's work creatively in order for it to be considered acceptable for an agent's or publisher's eyes...and some of those suggestions went against an author's core beliefs about their own work. If someone told me to change the title to my book, I'd bristle. If someone wanted me to rename characters or cut the love subplot I'd explode. There's got to be some flexibility and trust when you hand your work off to someone else to sell and promote it, and as terrible as that sounds, I am finding out I'm not that flexible. 

Just the other day I was looking at artwork different artists had made for me and there was one piece, by Juhaihai, that really spoke to me. It hit me hard: this is going to be the cover to my book. And I realized I didn't want anything else for it, I felt so strongly about it. I realized I wanted to be more in control of my work than I thought I did. 

And I also realized something else, just from working directly with an artist -- things might not be as expensive as I thought. I was given a great deal on the commercial licensing of the image, and it didn't break my wallet. Maybe, if I did even more research, I could find more affordable ways to pull off the publication of Son of the Siren. Maybe things weren't, and aren't, as insurmountable as I think them to be. 

But the most important thing is that no matter what, this book is going to be out there, in some way, in your hands. And the fact that I don't have to worry about that anymore has taken a huge weight off of my shoulders, and I'm already feeling less anxiety as I work on completing the book. The fact that I've finally made a decision on what to do feels so good!

Please wish me luck on this endeavor! And right now, it's back to writing! Go, go, go!

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