Happy Saturday, y’all! In the, er, 8 days since we last met (and by “met” I mean my last blog post), not all that much has happened on the writing front, unfortunately, and I confess I’m growing impatient — I’d take a definitive “No” over an I-don’t-know. I did hit 2.4 million reads on Wattpad (which is awesome, i.e. you guys are awesome). I’ve been getting about 100K new reads every day since Paladin was featured a little over 2 weeks ago.
I’m beginning to seriously consider the self-published route, for a few different reasons. For one thing, Paladin is my debut novel…and hopefully not the best book I’ll ever write. Am I wasting my time trying to get my first attempt at writing a novel published? I’ve read in a hundred different blogs that your first book is crap; it’s the second book that sells.
But I’ve put so much time and energy into Paladin, and I really do believe in it. Heck, I’m somebody’s favorite author! The primary benefit of self publishing, as far as I see it, is then this whole publishing business is done and over with. I can stop editing (I think I’ve seriously spent like, 200 hours editing this thing); I can start thinking about the sequel to Paladin or a new series entirely. I’m itching to write something new (although a new world has yet to pop into my head, which scares me a little).
The thing is, self publishing would be taking a huge risk. I’d have to invest some of my own money–and let me tell you, I’m not rolling in dough–and a lot of time. I would need to find a cover artist (and likely pay them), and if I were to produce hard copies (vs. ebooks) of Paladin, the money would come out of my own pocket. I would need to either hire a copy editor ($$$) or go through the whole novel again with a fine tooth comb…which will take me another 20 or 30 hours. Any way you slice it, the journey to getting published will take a loooong time.
But what I think will be the biggest time suck is getting the word out there. I’ve got an amazing 2,400 followers on Wattpad — and presumably significantly more readers than that — but not all of my followers and readers are going to want to purchase my book. The biggest mistake I think authors on Wattpad make is that they only focus on the Wattpad community. Us Wattpadders are accustomed to reading books for free, and actually paying for a book is a cultural shift that authors are trying to force down Wattpadders’ throats. (Don’t get me wrong — when Paladin is published, I’ll ask you to buy my book. But I won’t condemn you if you don’t. You’ve already paid me in encouragement, and that counts for a lot).
The real opportunity lies with the readers who haven’t already read Paladin–and I think limiting myself to the Wattpad community would be silly. There are 5 million registered users on Wattpad…but there are over 7 billion people in the world! Okay, that’s a bad comparison, because the whole world isn’t literate, or fluent in English, or flush with money in order to purchase a book, but you get my point. The world is changing, too — ecommerce (in other words, online sales) is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2016 and Juniper Research forecasts that purchases via mobile devices (tablets, smartphones) will outpace shopping on desktops. Research also shows that YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world, after Google.
Why am I citing all these random stats? It impacts how us authors (and publishing houses) have to target potential readers. Advertising your book in a newspaper or on the side of a bus? So 1990. Authors need to find a way to tell the new reader about their book. The new reader is digitally-savvy, likely on their mobile more often than their laptop, and consuming information via lots of different channels — Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Goodreads. Maybe Wattpad.
So what the heck does all this have to do with self publishing vs. traditional publishing? Well, if I self publish, I have to do all my advertising myself! And what used to be pretty straightforward–send your book out to a few review blogs, maybe fork out some $$$ for an advertisement in the newspaper or an online news site–is now super complicated. To really get the word out there, you need to have a presence and strategy on all those different channels (mobile, Internet, traditional, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Wattpad, YouTube, etc.). Multimedia is the wave of the future. Unfortunately for me, I’m a technological dunce.
At the Digital Hollywood panel I spoke at last week, Brittany Geragotelis talked about the makeover videos she posts on YouTube, to tie into the magical makeover her main character gets in her book (seriously, check them out). Another great example of creative marketing for books is what the folks at Rigler Creative are doing — they’re launching a new book review web series on YouTube aimed at 11-16 year olds (the lower spectrum of a YA audience) called “Best Friends Book Club“. Each week, they air a 3-5 minute segment featuring four teenage hosts who review a YA book in an informal talk show setting. The series is syndicated on Tumblr and Wattpad.
I checked out the first episode, which premiered today. The four teenage hosts–who are way cooler than I was at their age–reviewed The Journeys of John and Julia, which you can actually read here on Wattpad (it’s also available in print and as an ebook on Amazon). I have yet to read the book, but did notice that each chapter has a little video embedded in the page. I didn’t even know you could do that on Wattpad!
Anyway, here is the first video — it is adorable.
Long story short, if I self publish, I won’t be able to do this stuff…at least not without paying someone to do it for me. I lack the technological know-how, and frankly, the time, to put something this elaborate together. The other big issue for me is that I really want an editor from one of the Big Six publishing houses to rip into my book. I feel like traditional publishing would get Paladin to the next level.
I have no immediate plans to take action either way. I feel like I should at least get rejected before I make the decision to go the self publishing route. For now, I’ll just sit back and wait…and wait…and wait.