My Adventures in Indie Publishing. (Yawn.)
This is the hot topic nowadays. It’s either loved or hated; either way it’s something that is happening.
To tell my story, I need to go back, way back; and for a sixty-something year old that’s waaay back.
I started writing short skits and plays in elementary school and then years later I wrote my first story, a fantasy about magicians and evil world domination. The length made it a novella, and I put it on one of my websites, where it still sits.
Speeding forward to 1985, I had come out of two years in community theatre and decided to write my own play, a two-act comedy called “Happily Ever After” (original, huh?). It ran in dinner theatre in Detroit for sixteen sold-out shows and even garnered a review in a local newspaper. Afterward, I wrote a number of short stories and articles that ended up on a website that I created, but I always wanted to write a full-blown novel.
Flash forward to 2009, after a few months of unemployment. Finding work in the Detroit area with a few thousand out-of-work autoworkers wasn’t easy for a senior citizen. Bored, I sat down to my computer and typed out the first paragraph of my first book, “Classmate Murders.” One month later I had finished it, printed out a few copies, and gave then to friends to read. One friend sent the thing back with punctuation corrections on just about every page. What do you expect for a guy who almost flunked high school English?
I thought the book was good and now wanted to start another, so I did. After the third book in three months, I decided to see about getting them published so I went online. My brother, a professional photographer, had joined Twitter and as much as I resisted, I also joined. He said it was a way to promote my books, so I entered into the world of lost souls.
I learned a bit, gained followers, and cautiously promoted my books. On Twitter I found an agent who was interested in the two books I submitted but after numerous emails, I never heard back. I then submitted my work to a number of agents and at least they sent me the standard rejections, with no helpful explanations. I was reading more about the conditions in the traditional publishing world and self-publishing. I got tired of waiting to get my books out to the people who actually counted, the readers. I received a good number of comments favorable to my books so I knew I had something to offer.
I had worked for many years in the printing trade so I knew how to print and bind my own books. I found that when going with an online press the cost of printing the books outweighed the profit I would receive so I made my own books. Now the problem was getting the books out. I had a Facebook page and let people know the books were available and some sold, mostly to friends. That was all right; they were at least getting out.
Twitter brought me a number of sales also. Then I discovered Ebooks. I found Smashwords and all that they could do to get my books out to the public. I sent in the seven books I had at the time and continued writing. The books were starting to sell modestly, and I was now giving away my first book to anyone who wanted it. I figured I had more books in the series and giving the first away free may stimulate sales; it did! I also put the Ebooks up on Amazon for Kindle and they are selling well.
Recently I put my first book up on a site that allows people to download books free, both public domain and author submitted. I put my free book there and as of today, in just under three weeks the book was downloaded 3,119 times and still counting. That’s three thousand plus people who will read, pass along and maybe even buy the rest of the now thirteen books I have! So, there are ways to get your books out to the readers, if you just keep at it. I’ve used many other sources, too numerous to mention here, but explore the internet, you can find them.
I was asked to write about 750ish words, but I want to say one more thing. Recently I read a couple posts attacking self-published writers. Their main complaint was the quality of these books and how it hurts other authors who spend time and money into perfecting their writing. Not everyone has the funds to hire professional editors–it’s a legitimate reason.
Listen–I know there are mediocre books out there; I have read a few that I paid for or received free. These books don’t hurt anyone but the author. If they aren’t any good, people won’t read them and definitely won’t recommend them. So what’s the problem? If you have books that people enjoy, they will buy them and recommend them to other readers. The bad books will be bought by friends and family, and that’s that. Bad self-published books won’t hurt good authors, period.
I’m over my limit, but hey, I write, and it’s hard to stop. Thanks for putting up with me and good luck with your books.
My paperback books are available at AuthorsBookshop.com