Why I Chose Self-Publishing

Today, I want to talk a little about why I decided to self-publish Saga of Menyoral. I don’t want to tell you anything about what you ought to do with your creative work, because I’m not qualified, and I’m not you—but these days we have choices, and maybe you’d like to hear why I made the choice I did.

Menyoral is a big story. I’m only just beginning to tell it to the people who are willing to listen, and Dingus has a long way to go before he’s through. I have a great love for superhero comics: the continuing nature of the stories, the colorful heroes, the characters so many people have come to know and love over the years. I also love classic fantasy, especially set in alternate worlds, where anything can happen as long as it’s according to the rules the author’s set out, and where titanic forces clash over the fate of the world. The book I want to read has all those things—but I also love, love, love deep characters, love developing characters, and in so many comic books and fantasy epics, the characters either don’t change much over the years (remaining the same age throughout, for example, no matter how many stories are told). Who they are takes a back seat to what they can do.

I wanted more. I didn’t want to exchange Real People for Epic Awesome, or the other way around. I wanted both, but if I wrote Menyoral as a traditional-style novel series, I’d be writing ridiculous doorstops, for which the market is punk unless you happen to have a name already. If I wrote it the way I wanted to, I didn’t think the world of legacy publishing would be interested, since I’m still not sure how many books it’s going to be (my best guess is upwards of twenty). But oh, I wanted to share what I had, and I kept working on it without much hope of anyone seeing it, or much thought to anyone enjoying it but me and my husband, and eventually a very good friend (Casey Matthews, I’m looking at you). Years I worked on it, and I never thought anyone else would be interested.

Then I bought a Kindle.

Two years ago, I didn’t know self-publishing online existed, but the more I read and the more I studied, the more I came to think it was the best option for what I wanted to do with my work. It was hardly a year ago that I decided to take the plunge; and last December, I got all my ducks in a row, from cover art to editing, finalized the draft, and clicked the “Publish” button.

My other friends, less close, but still blazingly awesome, were interested. People were interested. I sold more than I thought I would, and I wrote another. People wanted that one, too—and when I ran a free promotion through Amazon, I gave a lot away. I expected sales would slack off, but they’re steady and growing.

It’s nice. It’s really nice. But even if people drift away, even if I never sell another book, I won’t be bound by a contract, I won’t be dropped if I don’t earn. My stuff won’t go out of print, and I can tell the story to the end, the way I want to tell it.

So that’s why I chose to self-publish. What about you? What choice did you make, or what are you considering, and why? Let me know in the comments, if you’re so inclined.

7 thoughts on “Why I Chose Self-Publishing

  1. I chose self-publishing for a variety of reasons. One, I wasn’t that great at being tenacious as far as chasing after a publishing contract. I’d send one query letter and wait. Then I’d send another and wait. In order to get published you have to be willing to do a lot more than that and I wasn’t sure I wanted to put all that time and energy into something that might never pay off.
    I too read a lot about self-publishing and what I read was exciting. My work had gotten to a point where I thought it was ready to be published. I had a lot of stories under my belt. They received good feedback from those who had read them. Then I met a bunch of wicked awesome writers who were already publishing or going to publish and I realized that I could do the same and I wanted to do the same.
    I think the best opportunity for the unusual, new, interesting, unique voices to be heard will be through self-publishing. I honor those who are doing it and I’m glad I’m a part of this great, experimental journey.
    (Plus, I do love your stories and how else could I have gotten to invite Dingus and Krakus (oh Krakus) into my life without self-publishing?)

  2. I think I will go the same route for much the same reasons. It would be nice to see my books on book store shelves, but I am not convinced that is a reason to go the traditional route. I’ll probably do something in-between, kind of like a hybrid. I don’t know, but I like your reasoning.

  3. I’m so glad self-publishing has worked well for you. I chose self-publishing for somewhat similar reasons, not because I was going to write a series and didn’t want it dropped if it didn’t sell, but because I wanted like you to write my stories my way (legacy publishing wanted things more like what was already out there and I’m all about figuring out how to do things in a new way) and because I was writing very quickly and legacy publishing couldn’t keep up. It’s still a hard road, which is really why no one wanted me to do it my way–because it isn’t the way of easy money–but I’ve published 5 books so far in 2 years with 2 more coming out this fall, I had over 12,000 people take advantage of my free promotions so far that wouldn’t have known me otherwise. I’m enjoying this, and like you I’m playing a long game. As the years pass, whatever publishing looks like, I’ll have the rights to my stories and the ability to control my career and go where the currents of the industry take me. I write more non-standard fantasy, but I’m going to be releasing some more mainstream stuff soon that should fit with a bigger audience, and I’m hoping to have similar results to what you’ve described. Best of luck to you. 🙂

  4. I agree with everyone. I chose self-publishing because I didn’t want to wait years upon years to get an literary agent, seduce a publishing house, and then finally have my work published in a less-than-I-intended or more-than-I-intended form. I liked my characters telling their own stories and without the pressures of someone else telling me that I need to shave off thousands of words or add thousands of words or follow some trend that will hopefully let me ride on the after shocks of some cultural literary earthquake to ensure sales. No, my books were written first and foremost because someone once said, “write the book you want to read”, and because I couldn’t find something I wanted to read at the time (five years ago), I ended up writing the Turning Vampire series. I liked the creative freedom of being able to express things the way that they were meant to be expressed. I think self-publishing is great for everyone who loves to read and who have stories to tell and who just wants the world to fall in love like they did. What makes publishing novels worth it isn’t how much money we make (although we all can definitely agree to doing nothing more than writing more books for the rest of our lives), but what makes everything worth it is how many people we’ve reached and how many lives we’ve touched and changed and how much others love our stories and our characters. That’s what it’s all worth it to me. ^_^

  5. I’m glad you self-published and we’re able to share the amazing story that is in your head. I haven’t even finished a book yet, let alone considered if I’m going to self-publish or try to go traditional. Only time will tell. Thanks for the insight though, brought up some valid things to consider.

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