Forging a new path

Once again, I owe you all an apology for taking such an insanely long time to write a new blog post. To those of you who blog every day AND write your story, kudos to you. You’re a far better [wo]man than I.
I tend to write these things in a sort of stream of consciousness, since I don’t really have that luxury with my attempts at novel writing, so bear with me. My thoughts are not entirely organized, perhaps because I’m on the precipice of a very major life decision.
Those of you who follow me on Wattpad/stalk my news feed (no judgment — I assure you I stalk yours) may have seen a few of my comments back to readers regarding self-publishing. And those of you who read my last blog post probably sensed that I was at least considering self-publishing.
Well, this article in Salon sold me on it. In his aptly titled article, “Self-Publishing is the Future — and great for writers,” Hugh Howey, a very successful self-published author–or Indie author as the cool kids call it these days–talked not just about his journey to success but shared stories of many other successful self-published writers. And he shared some pretty interesting insights:
Your book might be in the top 1 percent of what readers are looking for — whether by the magic of your plot or the grace of your prose — in which case you are far better off self-publishing. You’ll make more money sooner, and you’ll own the rights when it comes time to negotiate with publishers (if you even care to.)
Do I think Paladin is in the top 1 percent? I don’t know, but I’m hoping that the number of reads I’ve gotten on Wattpad are an indication that it might be. Howey then goes on to say:

If, on the other hand, your work isn’t in the top 1 percent, it won’t escape the clutches of the slush pile. Your only hope in this case is to self-publish. Which means there isn’t a scenario in which I would recommend an author begin his or her career with a traditional publisher. 
Wow. That’s a pretty bold statement to make. And he goes on to back it with a lot of logic. You can keep a greater share of the royalties. You can price your book at whatever you want–dirt cheap, if that’s what you think will win over readers. You don’t have to deal with the stodginess of traditional publishing.
The book that Hugh Howey found success with was not his debut novel, and maybe mine won’t be either. Success in publishing these days, at least in the Indie community, is very dependent on your book going viral. It’s hard to predict what will and won’t go viral. A good story helps–that top 1 percent Howey mentions–but it also comes down to timing and sheer dumb luck. Maybe Paladin won’t be a huge commercial success…but maybe Uriel will be.
I’m going to be honest–if Random House came to me tomorrow and said, “Sally, we want to publish Paladin”, I’d jump on the deal in a heartbeat. But as there’s a slim chance of that happening, I’m starting to think that self-publishing is not so bad an alternative. At the end of the day, it may be my only option–and better, I think, to keep writing, to keep improving, to keep learning, than spend my days twiddling my thumbs, waiting for an agent to get back to me (if any agents I queried happen to read this post, please do get back to me!).
Do I think that all 50,000 readers who read Paladin from start to finish will buy my book, even if I price it at 99 cents? Do I think that even half will purchase it? I’m a realist–the answer to that is no. I don’t anticipate that publishing Paladin will start paying the bills–although I do hope some of my readers decide to show their support, either by purchasing a copy, writing a review, or simply recommending it to a friend.
So here’s my game plan. Over the next 3-4 weeks, I’m going to be editing the crap out of Paladin and formatting it for publishing as an ebook on Smashwords and Amazon. I’ve got the talented Hayley John, who made my cover for Blue Sun, painting me a custom cover (the Paladin cover I have on Wattpad I do not have the rights to publish). I’ve written an extended epilogue, and if I have time, I may write a bonus scene or two. I’m also going to attempt to figure out how the heck to market this thing. If, by some miracle, an agent gets back to me with interest during that period of time, I will put my publishing plans on hold. But from here on out, I’m going to move forward as though I’m aiming to self publish Paladin during the first week of May.
This isn’t an easy decision for me, but I think it’s the right one. I’ll keep those of you who are interested abreast of the publishing date – hope you’ll buy a copy!

22 Comments

  1. Follow your dreams Sally!
    “My mother taught me that we all have the power to achieve our dreams. What I lacked was the courage”;Clay Aiken
    Never quit. Life will try to bring you down, but remember: “The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions”;Alfred Adler
    Risks are the fuel of life! Change itself is a risk! Risk of trying, risk of wandering on stranger grounds, risk of failing. But whatever the outcome is, there is experience. And experience will lead you to success.
    That’s all I have to say Sally, I’m not the brightest thinker, but I am still pursuing my dreams, and that is what is most important to me. Good luck in all your endeavors, and remember you have a lot of people supporting you!

    1. Those quotes are lovely, thank you for sharing them! And it’s comments like yours that remind me how lucky I am to have such great readers – your support means a lot!

  2. Hi Sally!

    This sounds like exciting news! Well done on making your first step, it’s the hardest but you’re going to see that it’s an epic roller coaster ride from here on out.

    Enjoy it to the fullest and thanks that we can experience the ride first hand with you!

    1. Hey Jade – Thanks for the encouragement! It is definitely a hard decision, but I’m a bit excited too! Definitely feel like it’s the logical next chapter (har, a book pun).

  3. You have a knack on posting blogs that I just needed to read at just the right moment. Very informative, Sally! And I totally agree, better to spend the time writing than twiddling thumbs waiting. Do you have your own website, btw? Can do a checkout ecommerce thing so readers can purchase it from you “direct” too.

    Watching this space.

    1. Are you also considering the self-pub route? It seems like it’s going to be a lot of work, but hopefully worth it.

      No, getting my own website is on my to-do list, and I definitely thing selling my book on it is a smart idea (I can set up a Paypal or something like that). At the very least people can download it in PDF format since that’s easy enough to make. Formatting seems like the most complicated aspect of this whole thing.

    2. I’d always been thinking I might have to self publish anyway. My story’s kinda unconventional and not entirely popular. When I’m delusional, I sometimes think “yeah I’ll try querying first”, but having found out about the reality of things, I’m beginning to question even that.

      Let me wrap my head around how things work…. correct me if this dataflow diagram is wrong… unless you’re with the big publishers, u’d still have to promote yourself. So

      1) u’re jumping through hoops hoping they’d pick up your story,
      2) when they deem it ok to publish your stuff, u might have to warp it to fit the dimensions of their printing and the bookshelves,
      3) after that’s done, U’RE the one who’s pushing it through the checkout, hopefully with a good presence on social media stuff;
      4) AND you pay THEM for the honour of that….

      I don’t know… is that cynical or is that just about right?

      In light of all that, it’s just the same as if u’re self publishing, except u’re keeping all the earnings yourself and u don’t have to audition for Cirque du Soleil.

  4. Hey you :) you should totally go all the way, and not wait for a publisher to figure out what 50 000 people already know, Paladin is awsome. And also, I liked Tetras post about a wbsite where you can buy the book directly. Cus I realy don’t think your book will end up in Norway anytime soon, whitch is sad, since I want it the moment you publish it. Oh, and also, you do plan to give it out in hardback/paperback and not just ebook right?

    1. Thank you for saying such nice things about Paladin! Yeah, Tetras makes a really good point. I need to look into international selling platforms – I don’t know much about how Amazon and Smashwords works for international. I’d think you could buy an ebook?

      Currently the plan is to start with an ebook launch. I’ve had a few people besides you who’ve said they’re interested in a hard copy. The issue is that they’re really expensive to make. If I sell enough ebook copies, and there’s sufficient interest from you guys, I’ll do some print on demand paperbacks (3 or so weeks later).

    2. Ooh… that gave me another great idea… u could do an interactive waiting list thing on your website (once it’s set up) so that once u get X amount of ppl u’re ready to publish. When u get to that stage, calculate how cost effective it would be to do hard copies… maybe ever 100 or 500 copies? Dunno. People can register their interest and see that they’re eg 183 waiting for the rest of 316 to make the 500… it will also get them spreading the news to buddies and get more ppl on board (pull marketing, where the consumers pull the demand).

      In the meantime, to thank them for waiting, they can also check out your other stories on Wattpad to whet their appetites on your work.

      Also, u could provide them with referral discounts for future purchases. That’ll keep ’em coming back. Heck u could also placate them with simple things like bookmarks, Paladin branded tea bags, even a little chocolate samples (betterworldbooks I *heart* you for those!) Other promos u could do (which I plan to do for mine) is if you have a fav charity, you could say with every purchase X% will go to that charity, to kinda promote it along :) even a similar topic character, like Paladin is gender bender stuff, so I don’t know, maybe education for girls charity or some women empowering charity stuff….

      Just saying….

    3. i dunno about the chocolate (although I do love chocolate!) but this is all brilliant stuff. *Takes notes* I need to figure out how to build a website, but I definitely want to be able to sell books from it and your idea of a waiting list is GENIUS. GENIUS I TELL YOU. *munches on brains*

      It would be a really good way to determine whether print is a good idea or not and gauge interest. Plus LOVE the idea of doing promos. Although I’m planning to sell Paladin for pretty cheap so I might have to do free giveaways or something.

      Must figure out this website business…

    4. … I’m feeling this strange nibbling sensation in my cranium…

      Prob get a simple website layout to start out with. Not more than 5 pages, really. It’s just the checkout page and the waiting list page that’s more “complicated”. The checkout should be an easy Paypal logo add. The real-time waiting list that might take a little more, but it’s just a +1 each entry in the coding, if u can find the coding sample to copy and paste. Or you can manually keep track of it and send them an email confirmation which states “You are number xxx in the queue.” that would eliminate the coding aspect.

      You might be selling Paladin for cheap but remember Paladin is your first novel. Let that lay the groundwork for you. Then by the time you’re onto your second and third etc novel, you’re able to sell it more and play around with more promo stuff coz YOU’RE ROLLING IN MOOLAH!!! (Is that the right spelling?? I don’t know… the area of my brain that holds that info has a teeth mark in it…)

  5. I feel that self publishing gets such a bad rap, but I definitely think you should go for it! I found Paladin on a whim while scrolling through Wattpad, and I swear to you I read all of it in one sitting! Haha, I was quite the sight. But seriously, I know a lot of fans will support you, including this one, and wish you all the best. I’ll definitely be purchasing it if and when you self publish, and I know for sure others will too!

    I’m really glad I found your blog, and definitely follow your instincts on what you think is best!

  6. I totally support your route, and will definitely do all three things you mentioned: review (check), buy, and suggest! This does seem the best choice to make given the current situations, and I’m sure you and “Paladin” will be going places – just don’t forget us little people when you’re a superstar! (^_−)−☆

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


− 1 = one