A box full of my first book, VEILED MIRROR, was waiting for me when we recently got back from the mountains. (I mention this here because even though VM wasn’t self-published, that sale helped give me the self-confidence to make the leap. It also provided a step along the learning curve of understanding the process of publishing.)
My husband is a great supporter, and he insisted on bringing a copy of VM to a meeting of the organizing committee of TusCon Science Fiction Convention to show off. We’ve been involved with this group for many years, but I didn’t want to push the book in their faces. Brian wasn’t so reserved. He passed it around before lunch, and I got lots of positive feedback. I also got questions about self-publishing. Is it hard? Does it cost a lot?
I found myself tongue-tied. Over the last two years I’ve been soaking up information like a sponge. There are so many aspects of the business to learn about, and I’m still learning (more on that in a moment). When asked how to self-publish and you have thirty seconds to answer, what do you say to the person who is starting from zero? While sometimes I still feel like I’m floundering, I realized at that moment — when a dozen thoughts crowded my head and I didn’t know what to say first — that I’ve learned a lot.
Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I realize that when someone asks about self-publishing, I’ll have to figure out what the person is really asking. Often the person doesn’t really know. Other times they may be wanting to tell you about their book, which they may or may not have written yet. They may want you to reassure them that self-publishing isn’t a career-ender, or they may want you to hold their hand through the process.
Time management isn’t my strongest skill, so I don’t have enough time to shepherd folks through the process step-by-step — but I do want to give others a hand up as others have helped me. So I think I may create a handout that will have half a dozen references to books and blogs on it to give the curious a starting place. I figure those who are serious will take the time to educate themselves, and by having a handout, I won’t be tempted to dump an avalanche of information on the unwary. 🙂
I’m curious, how do other self-published authors handle these questions?
As I said, I’m still learning. With the business in a state of constant flux and redevelopment, we all are. Here’s a tidbit I just learned and have to share with you. Whether you like his work or not, Dean Wesley Smith understands the business of writing, as does his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch. They’ve come up with an idea I can’t wait to try with LIGHTBRINGER. I liked the idea when Dean wrote about it a couple of months ago, and now he and Kris have done a test run at World Con in Reno. The idea is selling digital books as book cards (like the gift cards you see everywhere), or using them as promotion. Dean explains it much better than I can, so read his blog post about it, and read his comments after, too. With paper book sales in decline, and electronic book sales growing by leaps and bounds, this seems like an outstanding way to bridge the transition.
I’ll be interested in hearing what you have to say about this idea.