Well, that’s a good question.
It’s a question that came to me the other day when I received an email response to an agent submission that I’d completely forgotten about. I’d forgotten about it because I’d sent it out early in March of 2015, over two years previous, for A Division of Souls. One of the last times I’d submitted a manuscript before deciding to self-publish the trilogy. The response was a rejection, but a nice one…they explained why they felt they couldn’t connect with my book.
I’m totally fine with that. In fact, I’m totally fine that it was rejected, and that it took two years for them to respond. I’m actually kind of touched that they not only took the time to finally respond, but they read my submission and gave a reason why they didn’t accept it. That doesn’t always happen.
I thought about it some over the weekend, and realized that if I had heard back from the few agents I’d submitted to then, and if, in a stroke of luck, my manuscript had been accepted, then I’d have most likely gone a different route in my writing career altogether.
Instead, I’d given them all three months to respond — a generous amount of time to be honest — and after a no-response from a fly-by follow up, that’s when I chose to self-publish the books. A Division of Souls would be self-released that September, and I’ve stayed on that course ever since.
Over the course of the last two years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s multiple reasons why I self-publish.
- Quick turnaround. Let me be clear on this: I totally get that it takes a long time to go from submission to finished product. I’ve done my homework; I completely understand what goes into releasing product via an established company. Self-publishing on the other hand means that it’s all on me, which means I don’t need to worry about my release conflicting with someone else’s. It also means that the wait for the end result is all on me; I assign my own deadlines and schedule my production work and release dates.
- The DIY attitude. In the process of learning the ropes from the pros, I’ve also learned a secret: I can take those same steps on my own. As I’ve stated before, I’ve treated all my books as if I were a punk band self-releasing my new single. It won’t have the high gloss or the artful editing, but it’ll be something I think is pretty darn cool (and from what I’ve heard from readers, I think others feel the same way). This has become one of my favorite reasons for self-publishing. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s work I absolutely love doing.
- I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. This is the reason for self-publishing that I’ve been thinking about lately. I know that my stories don’t exactly fit into a specific mold. I know of professionally published authors who have this issue, where they are unable or unwilling to work on a project due to its possible inability to sell commercially. Some of them have even stopped writing altogether, or have written in a completely different genre (and even written under a new pen name) to circumvent the failure of their chosen career path. This in particular caused me to think about how that would play out, had I gone the professional route. To be quite honest, I’m sure it would have frustrated the fuck out of me and might have even caused me to rethink what the hell I’d done with my life. [And on a personal note, it most likely would have thrown me into a long and deep funk. Definitely something I prefer not to deal with again in my lifetime.] I’m not a commercial writer; I’m not the best at that style, and mainly because it doesn’t interest me. As soon as I’d self-released A Division of Souls, I knew I’d chosen the right path. I can write what I want and not have to worry whether or not the publisher will be able to market it. Again, that’s all on me, and I love being creative about stuff like that.
Self-publishing is a hard (and sometimes expensive) road, but it’s the road I’m best suited for. It excites me on almost every level, from the writing to the editing to the cover art, and even to the release. My only constraints are of my own making. I may not be pulling in the dough, but I’m putting my work out into the world, and I love getting responses about it. Plus I’m paying it forward by telling you about the process here at my blog, and now at a growing number of conventions.
It’s a hard road, but it’s the one I chose, and I’m glad I chose it.