Indie author stuff: Traditional or Self-published, which is right for you?

After hosting my (first ever) panel at Clockwork Alchemy on the above topic, I was delighted to hear so many people tell me that the information I gave actually helped them out.  I really just repeated the advice and insights that I had taken from others, but apparently it was helpful enough for those who attended.  Who knew, right?

Then I suddenly realized, with great shock and dismay, that I had somehow stumbled onto that fabled thing I hear whispered about in shadows: ‘experience’.  I might not know much about the best way to go about publishing a novel, and I certainly don’t know very much at all about marketing, but I have done both now.  Perhaps my mistakes, stumbles, and occasional luck can manage to aid someone else in their own publishing adventure.  Perhaps not.  Maybe I’ve just had too much coffee today and I’m getting giddy.

Either way, I thought I’d post the hand-out from my little panel here in case anyone else might like to see it.  I’m also going to summarize what I talked about below.  Please enjoy, and I hope this can maybe help you too.  Also, whenever I think of anything else that might be useful for others hoping to publish, I’ll post it up here on my blog.  Of course, if anyone has a question, I’d be more than happy to try to answer it.

Okay!  First of all, a little about me and what I’ve done to get my darling Twist onto Amazon.

I’ve been writing for about 16 years, and started working on Twist on November 17th, 2010.  Yes, I celebrate his birthday every year.  I started trying to get published about eight or nine years ago, with a totally different novel series, and ended up going to the San Francisco Writers’ Conference in it’s 2nd year.  I then answered an add and began working for a literary agent as an office volunteer and learned just about everything in the world about querying agents by paying vary close attention to everything.  For the next five years I tried just about every angle I could to get anything into print.  I got two short stories out, won an award for a novel, made friends with loads of influential people, and received over 50 rejection letters for my various endeavors.  All in all, a respectable amount of success considering the average author path.  Life kept me from showing anything Twist-related to anyone but an old agent friend of mine, who gave me some good advice on revisions, but the typical lack of help on actually getting him into print.

Then, this year (2013) I went as usual to the SFWC in February.  By then I had written out four and half Twist novels (about 360,000 words in total) and gotten a decent amount of edits on the first book, Waking.  I’d also done some rough cover designing, and mapped out the plots of another 4 or 5 books in the series.  I brought the usual pitch package for Waking with me to the con, but I’d already began to wonder if self-publishing might not be a good idea after all.  Twist is niche-y, after all, being Steampunk.  I’ll sum-up now saying that in four days the fantastic and gratuitous people at the con had given me ALL of the information I needed to go from .doc to Amazon by self-publishing, a full crash course in marketing on-line and off, and the driving will to do it all.  One month and  four days later, I sold my very first copy (of anything I’d ever written).  As a cherry on top, that first copy sold in Taiwan of all places.

Ever since then, I’ve been stumbling about like a drunken camel through the literary internet to try to get my book into the public eye. As of today, I’ve sold something over 80 copies (I need to find a good way to keep count) and gotten a few very nice reviews.  Considering that I’ve done all the production and marketing myself, I consider this a success.  I’ve got 12 books in this series, so I’m not in a hurry.  I don’t see any need to be selling thousands of copies, just yet.

So, in my travels through the publishing landscape, I found that the old tried and true traditional route just wasn’t for me.  My book was always the wrong one at the wrong time.  Even if I knew that my book already had an audience, the big-wigs didn’t even know what the word “steampunk” meant.  I found that going rouge was the best possible choice for my unassuming little clock maker and his grand adventure.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that the same path would be right of someone else.  We’ll see what happens in the end, but today I’m proud to be a rouge.

In my handout, you can find some bullet points of what to expect from both Traditional and Self-publishing, some quick notes on what worked for me, and a load of links to most of the sites, blogs, and people that got me this far.  I tried to make it speak for itself pretty well, be please feel free to leave a comment asking any questions you might have.  I hope it helps!

Download the handout.

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