I admit, the choice to self-publish The Royal Rogue was born more out of my intimacy with the story than any other reason. But like any major decision, it came after months of research, phone calls and a thorough weighing of the pros and cons. There were a ton of appealing options that the folks at AuthorHouse (my chosen printing company) were quick to point out. But with it came a hefty weight of responsibility and a few disadvantages that I had to take into consideration.
Self-publishing isn’t for everyone. Before I made this decision, I created a list of the pros and cons that helped me decipher whether I should take the indie path or seek out a traditional publisher. Below are some of the factors that helped lead me into this decision:
1) Creative Control
To put it simply, The Royal Rogue is my baby. It’s a rewrite of the first original “book” I had ever completed, and it features characters that are very near and dear to my heart. Everything from my editors to the artwork were meticulously chosen to bring out the true essence of this story and its characters. And while yes, most writers can say the same about their own books, somewhere deep down inside I knew this one was different.
In other projects (like Oliver’s Twist) I would have been more open and lenient to the idea of molding the storyline to fit a certain market. With Jaycent’s story, I just couldn’t do that. Since it’s original creation over ten years ago, this story and its characters have played a very personal role in my development as a writer, and as a person. Because of this, I felt it had to be told on my own terms, uninfluenced by the voice of a publishing house. As a new author, I knew that was nearly impossible when a company controls your product.
However, self publishing gave me that creative control. I would be the head of my product, from creation to production, and so I knew when it was all said and done, Rogue would be the book I intended it to be. Not anyone else.
2) New authors often have to prove themselves before their manuscripts ever get read.
The Royal Rogue is a beautiful novel that can stand on its own in the fantasy genre, but it is also far from the vampire/werewolf/paranormal trend circulating today. Publishers have grown more wary over the years, and raw talent isn’t always all you need to get your foot in the door. Especially when you’re presenting a brand new idea that separates itself from the current trend.
Plus, agents are looking for more than just great penmanship. Writers must pitch themselves before their manuscript ever gets read through query letters. This is how agents weed through submissions, and if that letter doesn’t ‘wow’ him or her then chances are slim that your manuscript will even be seen.
Recent or notable accomplishments in the publishing world can go along way in this. While I carry a fair amount of experience in freelance writing and journalism, it’s not the same as authorship. Book publishing is a new realm for me, and I knew I’d be three times more likely to draw the attention of one of the big houses if I could prove The Royal Rogue had a willing audience. If I could do that, I not only make myself more marketable but my credibility as a writer would increase substantially.
And speaking of marketability…
3) You are your own team.
One of the biggest cons and challenges of self publishing is that you’re not just the author. You’re the agent, the marketing team, the accountant, etc, etc. It’s a lot of hats to juggle, and you can count on your book having a rough start from the shoot if you don’t have it all together before your street date.
Especially marketing! Let’s be honest, no matter how amazing your book may be, it will not sell unless you make an effort to reach out to the proper audience. This can be the root of stress, especially if you’re not familiar with marketing or have an established network.
But it doesn’t have to be a headache, and it’s certainly not impossible. Technology today has made the world incredibly smaller, and there are tons of ways to really reach out. To me, half the fun will be thinking up and executing creative ways to do this. There are countless ways to market your product, from book signings and academic workshops to Renaissance festivals, online contests, giveaways, etc.
4) It’s an investment.
No one pays you to self-publish. It’s an investment. Do your research and be prepared to investigate your options if you choose this route. Know your goals, set a budget accordingly, and KNOW who you’re working with before you commit to a printing house.
Once you do it’s your time to take the reins.