by Heather Moore
I invited Sarah Eden to share her journey of deciding to self-publish nine novels and her recent decision to go with a traditional publisher.
Her first book launch for her “traditionally published” book will be on Friday, March 12 at the Deseret Book in Orem, Utah, 6:00–8:00 p.m., 1076 S. 750 E. (Along with two other authors, our own Annette Lyon, and Julie Bellon)
In the words of the immortal William Shakespeare, “The course of getting published never did run smooth.” I may have paraphrased a little.
Ask any serious writer about getting published and the reaction you get will invariably go something like this: "Well...” (Shudders/cringes/twitches) “It's tough. I get a lot of...” (muscles back a groan/sob/word-the-author's-mother-would-blush-to-hear) “rejections.” (a tell-tale muscle tic begins somewhere on author's face)
This is a brutal industry. I'm twitching just writing about it.
I write “sweet” historical romance. The sweet part has a double meaning: suh-weet, as in insurmountably cool and sweet, as in not smutty. Believe it or not, the second kind of sweetness got in the way of the first kind of sweetness during my course toward publication.
A few years back I jumped feet first into the shark-infested waters of the national romance market. The responses I received began to blur together. “I love your writing. Your characters are enjoyable. Your plot is intriguing, etc., etc., etc.” Sounds great, right? Not entirely. After these encouraging evaluations came the same phrase: “but I don't represent/am not interested in 'sweet' romances.” Trying to get published began to feel a lot like exercise—no matter how hard I tried I was always left with a big but.
After finishing off my third carton of self-medicating ice cream in as many days, I began investigating the black sheep of the book industry: Self-publishing.
I discovered some very interesting things.
*Self-publishing comes in 3 basic flavors: traditional, print-on-demand and the vanity press
*Traditional: Author takes manuscript to a printer, negotiates the price to have a set number of books printed, takes books home to store in garage and sell via website/appearances/the occasional negotiation with a bookstore
* Print-on-demand: Author formats manuscript according to POD company's specifications, a price-per-book is determined based on book measurements & length, books are printed by company when a purchase is made, book is shipped to customer
*Vanity press: “publishing” company agrees to publish author's book if author provides a portion of the publishing cost
*Self-published authors don't get a lot of props from the industry at large. “Wannabe,” “not a real author,” “not talented enough to get published 'for real'” are among the nicer things I've heard.
* Self-publishing is not a good way to earn money as an author. The profit margin is exceptionally small and a self-published author doesn't sell a lot of books.
Over the next three years, I self-published nine titles using POD self-publishing. I chose CreateSpace, the print-on-demand arm of Amazon. I sold books on Amazon and at writer's conferences, but otherwise had very little exposure—a common problem for a self-published author.
For me, self-publishing was always a step in the journey and never the final destination. With each book I put out, I hoped that it would somehow find its way into the hands of someone who could help me find a publisher who was interested in the kind of book I wrote.
My novel, Seeking Persephone, was a finalist for a 2008 Whitney Award—one of the few competitions that allows self-published works. As a result of this bit of good fortune, I met a fellow-writer (you know who you are) who suggested I give a certain small press a try that was known for publishing books with my brand of sweetness.
The rest, as they say, is history. Looking back on this journey, I realize I've collected a few nuggets of wisdom that just might guide an author thinking of trying their hand at self-publishing.
* Have realistic expectations. Most self-published authors will barely break even.
* Believe in yourself and your work. Self-published authors enter the industry at a disadvantage—they are disregarded, overlooked and, at times, never given a chance to prove themselves. If you are willing to put your work out there and endure the ups and downs, some amazing things can happen.
* Do your homework. Find out what you need from a self-publisher in terms of budget, product, an ISBN, an online purchasing option, etc. Choose the self-publishing method and company that fits your needs best.
* Keep an open mind. Perhaps self-publishing will prove ideal for you and your book. Perhaps it is only part of the journey. Know what your goals are and work toward them.