I am not the first to travel this road, but all of us crowding the self-pub trail today are certainly among the first. It’s exciting – and confusing – because none of us really knows what to expect. Some of us will reach Oregon, and others will die of cholera while crossing the plains. Metaphorically speaking, of course. And some who reach Oregon will hate it and wish they’d never left Ohio — but I imagine those folks will be few.
Being a pioneer involves, as it always has, a certain amount of risk. And, at least initially, ridicule. There are always people who will warn you not to make the attempt, and promise that you’ll be sorry if you do this crazy thing. I hung back for years, thinking I was better off where I was, hoping that a miracle would happen and Signet would reissue, say, The Fortune Hunter. Because wasn’t I better off hoping for that, however unlikely it was, rather than asking for my rights back and eliminating that delicious possibility forever?
Well. I may have hung back for a while, but I finally made the leap. Early this month, I received the rights back to my entire backlist — with the exception of my first book, The Nobody, which Signet plans to re-release as an e-book in July of 2012. This development derailed my progress on the Wicked Cool sequel (temporarily, I trust!) while I feverishly cleaned and formatted and spruced up my old manuscripts. Now they’re out, for better or worse … my self-published darlings, the books of my heart.
And now is when I wish somebody had built a paved road and put up a few signs. Instead, there’s a dusty, faintly-marked trail with an awful lot of fellow travelers crowding around on it, arguing about which route is best. Alas, not enough writers have gone before us to show us a sure-fire way to get where we want to go. It’s a safe bet that some of us are going to miss our timing and get snowed in at Donner Pass, and some of us are going to wander into Death Valley while seeking a shortcut. At this point, you honestly can’t tell which of us at Point A is among the group that will reach Point B.
Do this, do that, do some other thing … no matter what you hear advocated, there is always someone out there warning you that it’s the exact wrong way to go. “Get out on social media and hype your books.” “No, no, that just irritates people!” “Offer some of your books for free.” “No, no, that completely backfires — people don’t value what they can get for free!” And so on.
I hope the dust settles soon, because it’s awfully hard to see.