After several years of writing and then sending off queries to faceless literary agents and agencies, I decided that I’d have enough. With the rise in e-book publication and other self-publishing outlets, this route is not nearly as difficult and complex as it might have been five or ten years ago. And now I have a novel that’s available for sale to anyone who has an interest in it.
The goal of any novel writer is to have said novel published. With self-publishing, the publishing of that novel is often a very easy and straightforward process. You submit the files, wait a little while, and then the novel is available for sale. It’s only slightly more difficult for a physical paperback release than it is for an e-book release. Before, the measurement was published materials, but what about now that publishing is so easy? You could look at sales and you could look at the number and response of reader reviews. But it’s not an easy thing to attract buyers and readers.
What self-publishing has done is take the job of editing and marketing away from the literary agent and publishing houses and put it directly into the hands of the writer himself, who may have very limited connections or skills that will aid in those areas. This is where I am right now, struggling to come up with ways to market myself and my works. Obviously the blog is a large part of that, as is my interactions with readers and other writers on LibraryThing. But even that is no guarantee that I can attract anyone.
So, what becomes even more important is the quality of my writing. I don’t have an agent to rely on, who will push my name and my work and help me over the bad spots in my writing. It all comes down to me and me alone. I write. I edit. I publish. I market. It sounds like a lot of work and it is. It sounds difficult to manage all these things and it is. And there’s not much fun in putting in all that work and seeing the sales and reviews come with such painful slowness. This is where the self-motivation of the writer becomes ever more important.
I write because I want my writing to eventually become a full-time, self-sustaining career that I can continue to work on for decades and decades to come. I enjoy writing, that’s why I’ve continued doing it for so long. Now I’m trying to understand the other side of that, as well, the side where my works get picked up and read by other people. To an extent, I feed off of that, hearing what people think of my writing and hearing what they like or didn’t like. That response provides an extra motivation to try harder, to keep working so that I can get my next novel out and hear what people think about it.
No one ever said that self-publishing was going to be easy, but it certainly is an adventure.