Hey, everyone! Self-Published Muse Leigh Ann here. I can’t believe it’s been seven weeks since my YA debut, ONE, released.
I’ve been thinking for a long time about how I want to do this update. Propaganda of any type bugs the heck out of me and any time I read a report, update, or blog post that seems unbalanced or preachy, I’m suspect.
Which is why I’m so worried about writing this one, but I have to be honest about my self-publishing experience, right?
Right. *deep breath*
So here goes. Here’s the whole, real truth about self-publishing my Young Adult debut novel.
I have absolutely, positively, zero regrets. That’s right, none. Self publishing has been a 99% wonderful experience and I wouldn’t change a thing about how I chose to publish this book.
When I made the decision to self-publish, I’ll be honest – I was TERRIFIED. I cried, I angsted, I doubted my decision all the way up to announcement day and beyond. So, here are the things I worried about, and how my experience completely and totally squashed those worries.
Worry: People will think I am a self-indulgent, completely vain fraud and a hack. People will think I only published because I am desperate.
Reality: Almost everyone who said anything about my debut congratulated me. I’m sure a bunch of people still think I’m self-indulgent/vain/(insert horrible thing,) but with just three memorable exceptions, those people have been well-mannered enough to not say anything about it.
Worry: My agent will hate me, think I’m worthless, and we’ll break up.
Reality: My agent and I actually did part ways, in large part due to my decision to seriously pursue self-publishing, but it was definitely for the best. Now I’ve got a new agent who happily works with me on my self-published stuff, and she’s awesome.
Worry: I will lose the respect of the publishing community.
Reality: Only one literary agent and one editor offered public “Congratulations!” during release week. I don’t know why this was the case, but I’ve realized I don’t really mind.
Worry: I will lose the respect of my fellow authors.
Reality: Many, many, many traditionally published author friends offered congratulations, blurbs, awesome reviews, giveaways, and personal hugs and pats on the back. I was invited to be an affiliate blogger on The League of Extraordinary Writers, where only traditionally published authors have typically been invited. Of course I’m proud of this, but mostly, I’m so happy that so many of my colleagues saw through a book’s publishing method to appreciate the actual book. I love them all.
Worry: Self-publishing has such a huge stigma against it that nobody will take my book seriously.
Reality: In the ten months since I made the decision to self-publish, that stigma has all but disappeared. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m guessing it’s due to the surprise insurgence of the New Adult category, in which almost every success has been self-published. Now, more and more authors with agents are choosing to self-publish.
Worry: I will spend a bunch of money and not even come close to making it back.
Reality: I made every dollar of my original $2200 investment back within the first six weeks of publication – AND I’m not even listing in the Teen Sci-Fi Top 100 on Amazon on the vast majority of days. What I’m saying is that I’m not even a freak of nature or a list-crushing indie-pubbed beast of an anomaly – I’m a solid mid-listing indie, and still selling at a respectable rate. That is something I never expected.
Worry: I will get horrible reviews and everyone will blame it on the fact that I self-published.
Reality: Most of my reviews are kind, insightful, and awesome, and of the ones that aren’t, only a scant few pointed to the fact that I was self-published.
Worry: I will be completely overwhelmed by all the work that goes into producing and promoting a book.
Reality: Because I was able to hand-pick a production and promotion team that I trusted, I spent time and energy only on the things I absolutely had to do myself. Release month was a whirlwind, but I never once cried or broke down with stress over everything that had to be done.
Worry: I don’t know how to do all this.
Reality: I didn’t know how to do all of it. But I either learned how to do it, or enlisted the help of someone who did know. And everything turned out fine.
HOW did I pull all this off? Well, honestly, I’m kind of surprised I did. Of course, nobody knows exactly why things work out the way they do with books, but if I had to guess, I’d say: I wrote a book people enjoyed, I assembled an amazing team, and I stopped worrying about what other people thought.
If I had known it was that simple – really simple – I wouldn’t have had a complete and total breakdown on decision day. But, you know what? I’m kind of glad that happened too. I love that self-publishing lets me write and publish a book without worrying whether it fits into a genre, or stressing over whether Big Publishing will think it’s marketable. I’m writing for the readers, and I’m writing for myself. My book will never go out of print, be remaindered, or appear in the bargain bin.
The book I published is a 100% reflection of my vision of what it should be, from guts to cover and beyond. I’m proud of my debut, I’m proud of how well it’s done, and I’m eternally grateful to everyone who was patient, kind, skilled, and enthusiastic enough to help get it there. Most of all, I want you to know that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or how little you know – if you want your book to be published, I believe it’s within your reach to see it through, and even do a darn good job. I’m living proof that you can do right by your book through self-publishing, and still think the whole thing was kind of fun.
I’d love to answer any more questions anyone has about my first seven weeks as a self-published author! Comment below and I’ll answer ASAP.