With great freedom comes great responsibility.
Perhaps the greatest appeal of self-publishing is the freedom it offers writers in different ways. The first of those (which I talked about in the previous post) is the most basic – to get one’s work out there, to decide what you’ve written is worth publishing, instead of leaving it to publishers and their marketing departments.
Writers write to be read, for people to enjoy what we’ve written – they don’t have to number in the millions, or even the thousands. Hundreds or even dozens of readers loving a story that would have otherwise gone unpublished is a good thing. Independent publishing lets us make our appeal directly to you, the readers, the ones who can say what you appreciate. But that also means we have responsibilities. We need to make sure our books are well-edited and professionally published – and that we ourselves act responsibility.
Because if I’m going to ask you to invest your time and money in my book, then I need to take not just the writing of the story, but the entire production of the book seriously. Which means not just the editing of the text, but the typesetting of the book and the cover design, the marketing description and the pricing, and how I deal with readers’ reviews.
Now, self-publishing writers can hire freelancers to do some of that work for them (or like me, they can invest a lot of their own time and sweat into learning how to do these things themselves.) But they have to be done – and they have to meet a minimum standard of professionalism to show respect for their potential readers.
That’s the responsibility, but I believe the freedom is well worth shouldering the extra load. When I finish writing and re-writing and revising and editing a book so that’s it’s ready to be read, I can publish it right away – I don’t have to wait maybe a year or two for the book to fit into some traditional publisher’s schedule.
This independence also means I have control over what my book cover looks like. It means I can write a description of the story that doesn’t give away half the plot before a reader has even started. I even have some say over the pricing of my books.
Most importantly, I can stay true to the story. I don’t have to change the characters or the plot around according to what some suits in New York think will work best (be they the publishers themselves or their marketing wizards.) I can write it according to my own vision, without interference.
That doesn’t mean without feedback. I’m getting feedback before I finish my books (as I think all writers do, whatever route they end up publishing by) so I can make my books the best they can be (without compromising the story.)
And hopefully I’ll get plenty of feedback from you, those kind enough to have read my work and come to visit, and you’ll help me write the next book better, and the next one even better and so on. That’s why I’m asking for your honest opinions (both positive and negative) – because I want to keep improving, for myself as a writer and as part of my responsibility to you, the reader.
This responsibility is also why I’m giving you monthly progress reports, not only so you can know what I’m working on and how that work is progressing, but so you can also see whether or not I'm treating this seriously.
Continue to Part 3