How I Ended Up Self-Publishing My Book
by Tanya Karen Gough
It seems hard to believe that the publishing industry has changed so much in such a short time. I really think it’s amazing, even though I’m former CD and video store owner, which means I lived through the slow suffocation of the music retail business and the first years of the quicker, but no less painful contraction of the video retail business. You would think that I would have stayed away from book publishing under the circumstances, but the truth is books are an integral part of who I am. Also, eBooks barely existed when I wrote ROOT BOUND, and although it was possible to predict they would appear, there was no way to know how the book industry would be affected. As it happens, my entire journey spanned the most radical changes to publishing, and as such offers a bird’s eye view of the shift.
I didn’t set out to self-publish originally. Traditional publishing was still the way to go back when I first started shopping for agents in late 2007, early 2008. I got a lot of great responses and several requests for full manuscripts, but it was clear the book needed some more work. So I took the feedback I received and did some rewrites over the next six months, but by then, the book market was in a tailspin. Agents were freaking out, and no one knew what was going to happen. I’d been through it all before with my CD store (which I closed shortly after Napster launched), and with my Shakespeare catalogue (which I closed shortly after YouTube and Netflix emerged). There wasn’t anything I could do, and ePublishing still wasn’t widespread, so it didn’t feel like a viable option.
In the meantime, the recession was in full swing, and I moved to Toronto for work. By the time the dust settled (both for me and for the book industry), self-publishing had become remarkably easy to do. I didn’t want to spend any more time sending out queries and working through the agent process all over again. So I decided to do it myself. I was lucky that most of the technical requirements were already part of my skill set, thanks to my job. I don’t know how non-technical writers figure all that stuff out.
Self-publishing has its own challenges. The hardest thing for me has been getting the word out there. The problem with self-publishing being easy is that *everyone* is doing it now. There’s so much noise out there, and it’s very difficult to cut through the noise. Amanda Hocking got her books moving by rallying the support of book bloggers. Nowadays, everyone knows that and the poor book bloggers are drowning in requests for reviews. Other writers got widespread visibility by going the Amazon free route, but then Amazon changed their algorithms and the game changed overnight.
Did I make the right choice? Only time will tell, but there are risks and challenges with both routes, and you have to take the bad with the good. I’m grateful to have a venue to share my books with whoever finds them. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Read Tanya’s companion piece, “Traditional versus Self-Publishing” to learn more about the decisions she made along the way. You’ll find a list of available links on the Emma & the Elementals blog [Link: http://emmaseries.blogspot.com/2013/07/tanya-on-tour-guest-posts-on.html]
Genre - Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure
Rating – G (ages 10+)