Once again, I owe you all an apology for taking such an insanely long time to write a new blog post. To those of you who blog every day AND write your story, kudos to you. You're a far better [wo]man than I.
I tend to write these things in a sort of stream of consciousness, since I don't really have that luxury with my attempts at novel writing, so bear with me. My thoughts are not entirely organized, perhaps because I'm on the precipice of a very major life decision.
Those of you who follow me on Wattpad/stalk my news feed (no judgment -- I assure you I stalk yours) may have seen a few of my comments back to readers regarding self-publishing. And those of you who read my last blog post probably sensed that I was at least considering self-publishing.
Well, this article in Salon sold me on it. In his aptly titled article, "Self-Publishing is the Future -- and great for writers," Hugh Howey, a very successful self-published author--or Indie author as the cool kids call it these days--talked not just about his journey to success but shared stories of many other successful self-published writers. And he shared some pretty interesting insights:
Your book might be in the top 1 percent of what readers are looking for — whether by the magic of your plot or the grace of your prose — in which case you are far better off self-publishing. You’ll make more money sooner, and you’ll own the rights when it comes time to negotiate with publishers (if you even care to.)
Do I think Paladin is in the top 1 percent? I don't know, but I'm hoping that the number of reads I've gotten on Wattpad are an indication that it might be. Howey then goes on to say:
If, on the other hand, your work isn’t in the top 1 percent, it won’t escape the clutches of the slush pile. Your only hope in this case is to self-publish. Which means there isn’t a scenario in which I would recommend an author begin his or her career with a traditional publisher.
Wow. That's a pretty bold statement to make. And he goes on to back it with a lot of logic. You can keep a greater share of the royalties. You can price your book at whatever you want--dirt cheap, if that's what you think will win over readers. You don't have to deal with the stodginess of traditional publishing.
The book that Hugh Howey found success with was not his debut novel, and maybe mine won't be either. Success in publishing these days, at least in the Indie community, is very dependent on your book going viral. It's hard to predict what will and won't go viral. A good story helps--that top 1 percent Howey mentions--but it also comes down to timing and sheer dumb luck. Maybe Paladin won't be a huge commercial success...but maybe Uriel will be.
I'm going to be honest--if Random House came to me tomorrow and said, "Sally, we want to publish Paladin", I'd jump on the deal in a heartbeat. But as there's a slim chance of that happening, I'm starting to think that self-publishing is not so bad an alternative. At the end of the day, it may be my only option--and better, I think, to keep writing, to keep improving, to keep learning, than spend my days twiddling my thumbs, waiting for an agent to get back to me (if any agents I queried happen to read this post, please do get back to me!).
Do I think that all 50,000 readers who read Paladin from start to finish will buy my book, even if I price it at 99 cents? Do I think that even half will purchase it? I'm a realist--the answer to that is no. I don't anticipate that publishing Paladin will start paying the bills--although I do hope some of my readers decide to show their support, either by purchasing a copy, writing a review, or simply recommending it to a friend.
So here's my game plan. Over the next 3-4 weeks, I'm going to be editing the crap out of Paladin and formatting it for publishing as an ebook on Smashwords and Amazon. I've got the talented Hayley John, who made my cover for Blue Sun, painting me a custom cover (the Paladin cover I have on Wattpad I do not have the rights to publish). I've written an extended epilogue, and if I have time, I may write a bonus scene or two. I'm also going to attempt to figure out how the heck to market this thing. If, by some miracle, an agent gets back to me with interest during that period of time, I will put my publishing plans on hold. But from here on out, I'm going to move forward as though I'm aiming to self publish Paladin during the first week of May.
This isn't an easy decision for me, but I think it's the right one. I'll keep those of you who are interested abreast of the publishing date - hope you'll buy a copy!