Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Veil of a Warrior. Coming Soon? - An Argument to Self-Publish

I'm seriously considering self-publishing my novel Veil of a Warrior.

That's a big deal for me. As many already know—that are attached to the publishing industry—it was never viable, or even respected, to go the self-publish route. It was, and still is in some respects, called vanity publishing for a very good reason. It is just amazing how much has changed in the span of 1-2 years. Suddenly, what was not even remotely an option, is more than just an option, it is perhaps THE way to go...

E-books and e-readers started the revolution, but it has taken time for that path to be paved with technology, for the marketplace to develop and for trail-blazing authors to legitimize the whole thing.

There is so much to consider when thinking about taking on the task of publishing your book by yourself, but one thing that nearly makes the decision—all by itself—is TIME.

That shouldn’t make sense, but it does. A publisher should save the author time.

For those that are newer to the industry, let me explain: it can take months to find an agent, and more again to find a publisher. Maybe you find a publisher and skip representation, but either way, you are out months of hard work querying and searching for a single opportunistic moment when your manuscript hits the right person at the right time. Once this magical moment happens, you are unfortunately only beginning on the path to published nirvana. Prepare yourself to spend time—that will be mostly up to the publisher in terms of its length—to deal with edits, copyedits, book cover creation, layout design, and probably many more elements I have missed. Even a great book that is done with packaging and ready to launch, must wait for the publisher to fit it into their line-up for the year, or the next, or the—

You get the point.

A publisher is a business. They have investors, expenses and employees to pay; there is no room for error. So, when it comes to that golden date of release, the marketing department must check the alignment of the stars, to make sure that when your darling creation is unleashed on the world, you achieve maximum impact and sales. That said, you might hit paydirt, you might go to the top of their charts and be published within mere months; otherwise you can loudly proclaim that your book is published in...2014.


As the accumulation of author time-to-publish timetables have amassed in my head, I am left wondering if I would rather wait two years to have an accepted book appear in stores or take the reigns in my own hands. I'm not saying I would never go the traditional route, nor am I lamenting a process one could argue has been perfected over a hundred years; but I am definitely considering starting down a different path.

Writing is no doubt a long process, so why shouldn’t the publishing be as well? But do I want to go through that entire process just to find that marketing missed the mark, or that reception is mild, at best? I can do that on my own. And as some standouts have proven, I can also excel. It won’t be easy, but nothing ever is.

Veil of a Warrior has been sitting on my hard drive, almost ready, for over a year (writing sample here). It needs one last edit, then I was intending to send it to agents and editors. I may still do that, but only while I’m working out the packaging for my book. After an initial batch of queries, instead of sending it to more, I may send it to readers instead.

Doing so would mean a few things: I’ll have to figure everything out myself. No one will hold my hand, no one will tell me I have gone astray. As an artist I can luckily create my own cover art (and hopefully do a good job of it), but I will have to find a good copyeditor (search in progress), and deal with all of the other myriad aspects to come: layout, marketing, etc.

Nerve wracking, exciting, writhing with uncertainty. I've got some thinking to do.

If you're a writer, what do you think of the industry changes and what are you doing about them? If you’re writing your first novel in NaNoWriMo, suddenly thinking that maybe, just maybe, you can do this whole novel-thing. Do you want to wait for a publisher? Or do you want to blaze your own trail? It promises to be a lot of hard work, perhaps pointless.

Time will tell.


  1. The thing you didn't bring yourself to say: those months (or years) of querying and trying to line up a publisher may never bear fruit. Even if it does, you have a guarantee of no income (beyond whatever advance you get) during that long wait to get the book on the shelves.

    As you've said, there's a lot of work either way. One has a more certain result. Welcome to the darkside — have a cookie!

  2. The only thing that keeps me from going the self-pubbed route is cover art. I can't afford a cover artist, nor can I do any cover artwork myself. So I'm content with sticking to traditional publishing, lengthy though the process is.

  3. @FARfetched - Absolutely. That certainly weighs heavily on my mind as well. So in other words, publish time is somewhere between two years and...NEVER. No wonder a lot of people are going self-pub. Probably more than should.

    Dark side cookies are surprisingly: snickerdoodles. I would have thought double-chocolate chip. Life brings yet another surprise. ;-)

    @Jeffrey - That shouldn't be a barrier to entry. I'm sure with your wealth of contacts, one might be willing to trade one thing for another. Perhaps you can offer an artist something that they could use in exchange of money. Barter system? (I'm personally looking for a copyeditor, that is also a novelist, that I might be able to trade a book cover for a copyedit.) I'd also suggest checking out any art colleges for talent (regular college art programs work too). These are people looking to make a mark and get some work on their portfolio. Your social network could easily benefit them in finding further work for pay or a full time job.

    A number of my fellow students did projects for free or very little pay, some were quite talented.

    If trolling around an art college doesn't fit into your schedule, you can always seek students out online and see if any might be worthwhile to work with.

  4. Hmm... All I can offer are words of encouragement! I really enjoyed what you have in the link... I would love to read more, so if you need somebody to sample read, I'd be more than happy.

  5. Jeffrey, I paid $70 for my book cover. It's in the sidebar of my blog, if you want to see what I got for the money.

  6. Probably Moses Siregar is the key leading example of someone making a go of self-publishing while still trying to work the trad channels.

    Also, see Michael Sullivan.

  7. @Cursed Armada - Thanks for the encouragement! Besides the fact that I love to dabble in my fantasy worlds, I write with the urgent hope that one day I can talk about my creations with fans. I'll keep you in mind for potential readers.

    @Farfetched - Thanks for the note and kudos.

    @Paul - Moses was definitely a major reason why I'm considering this. I've heard about Sullivan, but I don't think I can manage to set up my own indie publisher at the moment. Would be pretty awesome though.

  8. @TheRedThing - thanks for the encouragement. I haven't shown it yet, still needs that last revision that has gotten put off while working on some other projects. But when I'm ready, if no one bites...I'll be testing my own waters.


Thanks for reading, now tell me what you think.