You Want To Be A Writer, Don’t You?
That’s the title of the note that I wrote myself in Evernote about 2 months ago.
I’m always writing little notes or recording little messages to myself, which I promptly forget about. But this particular note, has stuck out.
I think it’s stuck out because it’s true.
If I’m honest with myself, I’d say being an English major in college was not really an accident.
Considering all of the blogging that I do, my affinity for reading about writing, and my affection and admiration for writers, I’d say that I was bound to head in the direction of becoming a writer at some point.
When I started working at Apple, doing phone tech support, the idea was for me to eventually work my way into a technical writing position. Turns out, Apple wants people with advanced engineering degrees to do their technical writing.
Also, I always remember the line “a writer, writes,” which I think is from “Dead Poet’s Society.”
Anyway, I quoted that “a writer, writes” line to a friend when I was explaining why I wanted to start a blog way back when in 2003.
Back to the wanting to be a writer thing.
I’ve always been discouraged by how hard it is to get a publishing deal.
To get a publishing deal, you need an agent, but an agent won’t take you as a client unless you have a publishing deal in the works. Catch 22. Even with a publishing deal, the writer still has to do most of the work of promoting and marketing their book which probably won’t be out until 18-22 months after it’s completed. That whole scenario just didn’t seem like it was attainable.
Just about the only part of working with a “traditional” publisher that I found appealing, was the idea of walking into a Wal-Mart and seeing my book for sale there. Seriously, I’ve dreamt of that happening one day.
The bottom line, I guess, is that I just lacked the self confidence to send in a manuscript and start collecting rejection letters.
Enter Self Publishing.
At first, self publishing was seen like it was the “red headed step child” of the publishing industry. The stigma, associated with self publishing was that only people that weren’t good enough to get a book deal, self published.
Plus, a lot of the printers of self-published books wanted you to buy 100s of copies, at a cost of several thousand dollars. To make your money back, you then had to sell your hundreds of books. Given the stigma of self publishing, most people couldn’t. I got tired of reading stories of writers with a garage full of unwanted books.
Enter Self Publishing on Demand.
I’ve seen, read, and known about self publishing on demand for years. The idea, is that the printer only prints a book when it’s sold, you then split the revenue from the sale with the printer. Some printers have a sliding scale, so the more you sell, the more you keep, but I digress.
The point is, that I’ve always been nervous about self publishing a book. Partly because of the early stigma, partly because I was worried about how many I could sell and partly because I’ve always thought that you couldn’t really call yourself a “published writer” if you were the one doing the publishing.
For the last 6 months or so, I’ve been reading about people self publishing direct to the Kindle and other platforms. Usually it was someone that had had a traditional publishing deal and either decided they were getting shafted or their contract didn’t get renewed or something else along those lines.
Publishing direct to Kindle or to the iPad means that there’s no physical book being printed. That allows a lower price point, and a different revenue split with the distributor.
Then, the other day, I saw this over on novelr.com:
Amanda Hocking is 26 years old. She has 9 self-published books to her name, and sells 100,000+ copies of those ebooks per month. She has never been traditionally published. [Emphasis added]
I liked that she was selling so many copies and I also liked the part about not having been traditionally published.
Fast forward to today.
I don’t want to say that I suffered, but I guess I did suffer a bit of a career setback. Which brings me to this post.
I’ve been seriously pondering my note about being a writer for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been working on this post for the last couple of days, even before the setback happened.
Seeing how Ms. Hocking, and other people like her, self-publish direct to Kindle, and are successful at it I wonder: why not me?
I feel like I need to give it a “for real” try.
I say a “for real” try, because last year, I compiled and self published a book just so I could say that I’d done it. I wasn’t expecting to make any sales, and other than a link from one of my websites, I did no promotion for the book.
It turns out, people have been buying that book. I hadn’t received a royalty check because I never gave the printer/publishing house (Lulu) my mailing address since I honestly was not expecting to make any sales.
So, it seems like I can put together something that people will pay money to read.
Long story short, I’m going to give writing a try. I’m not quitting my job or anything like that, but I am going to dedicate time to finish up the story I’ve been working on for the last couple of years.
I’ll self publish it, straight to Kindle. Like a boss.