I've been thinking a lot this week about self-publishing. Not about self-publishing my work, no. Just about how totally amazing the notion of self-publishing is. I mean, publishers are wonderful – I hope to someday work at one – but like any standard business model, there just isn't time or space for every product. Yet, the market is insatiable. The people demand books!
Earlier this week I saw a "tweet" that led me to a guy in London named Jamie Drew who recently self-published an electronic book of short stories entitled Sing Along if You Know the Words. He is using the Radiohead e-selling model of only asking people to pay (either before or after reading) what they think it's worth. Full disclosure: I just downloaded it, so I haven't read it or paid anything yet. I will, and I will. But, before I dig in, and pay for my share of his artistic offering, I thought I would spread the word about it. I'm pretty sure that without community support, a lot of these self-publishing endeavors might die in the water.
Something I've noticed recently is that you can't get paid if you don't play (maybe that's something they say in Vegas, and it's not totally applicable here). What I mean is this: you aren't going to get anywhere without networking and getting "out there." Staying away from the very people that you want to read your work is the quickest way for your career as a writer to stagnate (unless you're Salinger, or something).
I have a friend who is a good writer (he's one of the BitterEnemies!) who self-published a book a couple of years ago. He printed his book through Lulu, and has it for sale at Magers & Quinn, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Unfortunately, he didn't really have a good support system (free marketing), which is why I think his book sales weren't as great as they could have been. But, he now has his book available for Kindle – which is the new hotness – so maybe it will start selling more copies?
Have you heard about Amanda Hocking? She's a 26 year old woman, living in Austin, MN who has written over 17 books. They're mostly genre fiction about vampires, zombies, and urban fantasy – something that I've never heard of before but sounds totally awesome – and her books are extremely popular. She's been self-publishing for some time now, though her books didn't start selling like crazy until she made them available as e-books. In a Huffington Post interview, Amanda said that she didn't sell many of her books that had been printed through Lulu until after her ebooks became available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble last April.
As of January 2011, 185,000 of her books have been sold. That number includes both print and ebooks, though the number of printed copies sold is only somewhere in the area of 2,000.
Last year I was getting pretty bummed thinking about how a lot of the big, respected, legacy publishers don't really accept unsolicited manuscripts anymore (mainly for legal reasons, I think). They're creating this new, commercial cannon, based on the manpower and money available. I get it.
But, it doesn't really matter anymore. Self-publishing. DIY. I love it.
My point is this: it can be done. Keep on truckin'.
Courtney Algeo likes food, cinema, and shark attacks. If you need any writing done summon her astral body.