Self-Publishing: It's Not As Easy As It Looks
Around this time last year I started leaning towards publishing my first novel The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined without the hassle of looking for an agent or praying that a big publisher might give a first time author like me a chance. As those of you who have tried to publish a book may know, most publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts so cutting out the middle man (the agent) wouldn’t really help my situation. And that’s where I thought my dreams of being a published author would end—no agent, no publisher, and no chance.
Then I stumbled upon self-publishing. At first I was opposed to the idea—although it wasn’t for the right reasons. I thought print on demand books looked cheap and the title “self-published author” sounded so pretentious back then. However, I wanted my book published. I knew it was good and with some fine tuning I could make it even better. My ambitions out weight my apprehension, and thus I decided to set aside my dreams of being signed with a big publisher.
Little did I know of the hurdles that awaited me…
The first things I did (to make things feel more official for me) was got out and register a Fictitious Business Name with my county, and applied for a business license. Next thing I knew Nautilus Press was up and running! I set up a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account for my business and waited for people to take an interest in my work. And I waited. And waited…
Not completely discouraged yet, I figured I’d expand my horizons a bit by creating a blog, buying some ad space on Facebook, and trying to advertise my book that way. Things picked up for a time and I acquired followers (albeit not as much as I’d hoped). Hope was temporarily restored for my “rags to riches” dream, and I thought that by the time by book was released in June I’d have HUNDREDS of devoted followers anxious to get their hands on a copy of my breakout novel, Destined.
I hired an illustrator—who was kind enough to take the job despite my only being able to pay her a pittance—to create the cover and six inside illustrations for the book. I begged friends, family, and acquaintances to edit the book for me since I didn’t have thousands of dollars to throw at a professional editor—needless to say, everyone did an excellent job and I’m proud to say that Destined is nearly pristine.
However, this was just the tip of the iceberg. Slowly new followers on my blog sites and new Facebook likes dwindled down to practically nothing. Not only that but I’d come to realize that I had to format my own books. Unfortunately, I didn’t know a thing about formatting—thank goodness for google, huh? Deadlines were creeping up on me (actually, they were charging at me like a bull at a matador), and no one seemed to care one way or another about all the time and money I was sinking into this book. It hurt. It made me want to quit. It made me feel like I was insignificant … and I still had so much to do before the book was released.
I was in way over my head with preparing the eBook, the paperback and the hardcover (the latter of which I don’t recommend if you haven’t got a large following), marketing the book, and making sure everyone I employed finished their work by the time I needed it done. It was like I was running a real business accept I wasn’t getting paid anything to do the work!
I kept handing out more and more money in hopes of expanding my audience and maximizing sales when the book was finally released, but no matter how much money I spent nothing seemed to be getting any better. Despite how well edited the book is, the beautiful cover art and illustrations that it contains, and the excellent reviews it has received from the few people that have given me, a first time author, a chance, I still haven’t broken even. I know I’ve got a great story (and apparently so do the people who’ve reviewed my book on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and Goodreads.com), the problem is trying to get people to move past the stigma of self-publishing and give my books a shot. Trust me, that’s a lot harder than it sounds.
It took a lot of hard work to get where I am now, and, to be completely honest, I’m not in a much better position than when I started out. But I started down this path and, for better or for worse, I’m going to stick with it. The bright side? My books are beautiful and they’re done almost exactly the way I wanted them to be done. The integrity of my book remains intact, completely free of sparkling vampires and raunchy sex scenes. I met awesome people who, despite me being broke all the time, believe that my book series will be successful someday and are willing to help me make it the best that it can possibly be (I’m talking about you, Samantha and Eren).
The self-publishing path isn’t easy (as I hope you gathered from this article), and for a time you may find yourself working very very hard for only a little return. Self-publishing is definitely not for those who give up when things get tough, nor for those who are content with throwing a half-finished manuscript onto the market. To produce a good book, you’ve got to put in the time and effort. You’ve got to truly believe that, despite the slow beginnings, your work is going to take off someday and never give up striving for it.
Bottom line: self-publishing is really hard … but I don’t regret starting down this path. I’m proud of all the work I’ve managed to complete by myself, and I know that I’ve got a really unique and interesting story in my Prince of Prophecy series. All the trials and tribulations I’ve faced aside, I’m happy with the fruits of my labors. And, as Frank Sinatra would say, I did it my way!
N.M. Mac Arthur
You can find out more about N.M. Mac Arthur from her author interview from July this year or by visiting her blog.
Now that the sequel has just been released on the 27th of December, The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined and The Prince of Prophecy Vol. II: Cursed are available for purchase on Amazon.com and B&N.com.