Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why I chose to Self Publish

Here's a quick quiz. It's only one question long. Can you guess the answer? It's easier than you think. Ready?
What is the single best selling product in the history of
It's their Kindle ereader. Why else would I write about in this post?

The sale of ebooks right now is outpacing the sale of paper books. This is good and bad in my opinion.

First the bad news. Traditional bookstores, independents and chains, are not doing well. Some are disappearing. I'm still mad at Borders for closing their store only a few blocks from my house. Hanging out at a bookstore was fun. You could wonder aimlessly through the shelves and something would hit your eye. I could not enter a bookstore and leave empty handed. With a computer, on the other hand, I can look at Amazon or some other page and not buy anything. I do it nearly every day.

The good news is that judging by combined sales of ebooks and paper books, more people are reading. Wonderful. That gives a newbie author hope.

The best news is that now the doors to publishing that first or tenth or fortieth book have been flung wide open. The normal path, publisher to bookstore to my pocketbook no longer is the only way.

Here's another question for you. What do you think a publisher does in this new landscape filled with ebooks?  This question is still looking for an answer. With an ebook there is no printing, no warehouse, no shipping. It's all electronic. That means there is really very little overhead to an ebook. Yet big mega mainstream publishers still offer authors the same royalties for their ebooks as for a print book, 15% if you're lucky. Yes, they can provide an editor, a copy editor, a cover designer, but a promising author can freelance all that out or barter with friends and family (if they are experienced in this type of work) and get it done for little or no actual cash.

Doesn't the big name publisher promote the author's book? I was surprised by the answer to this one. No, they don't unless you have that one in a million book to hit the best seller lists. This is even rarer for the first time author. Promotion is left up to the author. You have to build your brand, some have even built their own book tours.

So what is the advantage? Right now I don't know. With "Dr Zombie Lives Next Door" I have had numerous near misses, or saying that more positively, near hits. One publisher had a coast to coast conference call about my book. In the end it was "We really enjoyed it. The story is good, the writing is strong, but the vote had to be unanimous. We're going to have to pass. But I voted for you."

After a while I gave up on it concentrating on my short fiction to build my literary cred. It worked. The successes are flowing in and outpacing the thanks but no thanks.

Then the Kindle and other ereaders became the biggest Xmas gifts of the year. And ebooks exploded.

Someone once said that people can't buy books that sit home on the shelf. It's true. And if they don't buy my book, I won't get paid. Let's be truthful, while I love to write, I would love it even more if I could make a living with it.

Self publishing my own novel as an ebook doesn't require the overhead that self publishing a paper book does. Self publishing an ebook I can get royalties of 70%. Remember the 15% from the mainstream publisher? That allows me to sell my novel at a much lower price and maybe attract more readers.

It took 4 months of hard work with lots of help from my family and many friends but finally it came to light. "Dr Zombie Lives Next Door" came to be alive and kicking on Sunday night. I am proud of this book. It's a fun story that I believe kids and adults will enjoy. Okay I may be slightly prejudiced but I do think the last scene at the science fair is really very funny.

So buy a copy already, read it for yourself, or to your kids, or let your kids read for themselves. Then leave me a comment here or at the book's webpage. Tell me honestly what you thought. Good or bad. I want ot take what I learn and make the next one even better. Help me make this dream come true.

Now it's off to work on my second novel, the first in The Madness Series, "Hamburger Madness".  It's star-broiled adventure with extra pickles. There are no zombies in it anywhere. Still I think you'll like it.

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