Saturday, March 17, 2012

Don't Go It Alone - Self Publishing

Common mythology among agents and those in the traditional publishing business are that self-pubbers are lonely gunslingers or "does-not-work-well-with-others" mavericks. Wendy Lawton says, "When you make a choice to go it alone, some professionals could see it as a maverick attitude. Does it denigrate what a whole team brings to the process?"

Loner No More
I say, "Absolutely not!" Perhaps there are a few self-pubbers holed up in a mountainside cabin without electricity and running water, scrawling marks in longhand on parchment or impressing wedges on clay tablets, but as far as I can tell, indie authors flock to each other like swarms of hyperactive bumblebees to a field of wildflowers. The father of Self Publishing, J.A. Konrath, runs a blog, A Newbie's Guide to Self-Publishing, with ten thousand followers. He is a big proponent of teamwork and community. He donates thousands of hours of advice to new writers on how to market, hire cover artists, find editors, and social network and has the marketing success to show for it.

Talk me off the Ledge
Resources abound for the independent author. Need support for writing your first draft? There's the annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) sprint in November where team members can sign up, track their progress and cheer their friends on. Need critique partners and don't trust your mama to give you objective feedback? There's where writers help each other by earning and spending critique points. Need editing and book cover artwork? Professional editors and artists abound, willing to take work from an unknown writer without agent representation. Need friends to hold your hand and talk you off ledges? Indie authors congregate everywhere from to

Pulse on the Market
But what about marketing? A self-published author must do his own marketing and promotion. And for the most part, so does a traditionally published midlist author--unless you have the name recognition of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. This is where self-published authors have an advantage.

During all the months of critiquing and social networking, a self-pubbed author has already built a network of relationships--real people she has connected with who went through the blood, sweat and tears of creating a full-length novel, people who have torn apart her work, and shared tears over a dead pet or sipped coffee at a cafe, or attended an ice-skating event with. She has been sharing experiences, finding out what worked and what didn't work, and mostly what changed. Last year it was giveaways, this year it's Kindle Select and this month the thing to do is grouping Free days together for cross-promo.

There's Strength in Numbers
So how is an indie author to keep up with the trends and catch the wave of new social avenues? Join one or two groups and be active in them. One of the best is the Its mission is to promote great literature by bringing readers, authors, reviewers and bloggers together into a vibrant online community.  Another one is the Indie Book Collective, a group more oriented towards marketing and promotion. Many more abound, but the key is participation. Better to stay close to a few groups than spread yourself amongst too many and fail to build meaningful relationships.

There has never been a better time to self-publish than the present, with all of the resources and wonderful people out there giving their time to lend a helping hand to a new author. So are indie authors loners or social butterflies? What do you think? Where are some of your favorite watering holes? Do you agree with "some professionals" that indie authors are bad bets for traditional agents because they are too used to having their own way?

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... I would admit that one of the things most enticing me into considering self-pub is I won't have an editor demanding changes to my book. Not that I haven't made plenty of changes in the course of having it critiqued. But some changes aren't worth making to the book, no matter who tells you to do them. Perhaps that is the reason indie authors are considered used to having their own way? It is a big part of the appeal to self-pub.

    Great article! More things for me to ponder as I try to decide, ultimately, whether or not self-pubbing is for me.

    Oh, and I'd say writers, in general, are pretty social if they want to succeed. Seems like it would be an impossibility to do all this on my own. :-)