If this is the Self Publishing Journey Part II, then what happened to Part I?
Writing something is part one. Working out what to do with it is part two.
Part one ended nearly twenty years ago when I failed to set the Trad Publishing industry alight. Burning all those rejection letters when I moved house was a cathartic experience. I heartily recommend it. That first novel is still in a drawer in need of some rewrites.
Since then, accumulated wisdom has concluded that the Trad Publishing industry is not in a good state. It’s not responsive, not customer-focused, arrogant and operating on a business model that died when Amazon parked its Death Star on the front lawn.
Trad publishing is still tied to a brick-and-mortar retail model (publishers’ own online sales not withstanding). It is built on bulk print runs, retail discounts, sale-or-return and large-scale marketing operations to thousands of outlets.
It doesn’t help that margins are thin, staff are expensive, authors are many and prolific. Writers stand more chance of winning their local lottery than getting picked up either by an agent or a trad publisher.
Trad publishing doesn’t have the margins or the patience to plug away long term with writers who don’t sell big numbers immediately. The discard rate is shocking. The marketing and promotion tail is very short. Trad publishing may only give a book that took years to write a few short weeks to sell before moving on to the ‘next big thing.’ A book that might take months of word of mouth with a long tail of years of sales for the author often gets pushed to the back of the publisher’s dark closet within days of launch.
The conclusion? If you really want to be published, the only guarantee is to publish it yourself. Since LuLu and the like kick-started the Print-on-Demand model, it’s never been easier to become a writer. But publishing a book is only the second step (after the writing) down a long road to being a writer.
Becoming a writer who’s actually read isn’t any easier. Getting your little minnow of a book noticed amongst the many large shoals in a very big ocean demands a lot of time and effort dedicated to the business of writing.
It’s a long journey.