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.