In September of 2010 I took the plunge and become an “independent” or self published author. I took short stories I wrote ten years ago during a Master’s program (never having found an agent) and two blogs in different genres, found a graphic designer, and created an Amazon.com author page as well as one on Smashwords.
The ensuing four months have been full of hard work. Work that is just as consuming as the writing itself if not more so: marketing. The old adage about a tree no having fallen if no one hears it may also be true about a book being published if no one knows about it. Likes, reviews, trailers on Youtube, book tours, all of these and any of them need to be in a writer’s portfolio, no matter if she is an indie or commercially published.
It can be hard going at times because outside of literary journals and blogs, there are few channels embracing independent authors. The way to get their attention is through sales or downloads which means you have found a way to access readers. All the social media in the world is a dressed up version of word of mouth. And in this climate, the self published writer cannot flourish without building a network that relies on readers but equally importantly other writers.
“You get what you give and you give what you get,” Rachel Thompson, bestselling author of Mancode and A Walk in the Snark says. If you’re like me and think social media is for fun, not for making money, you can hire Rachel to do a consultation or work with you to expand your network of potential readers and reviews. I could her because she is an indie author and she agreed to blurb my momior on motherhood. Supporting others has been my philosophy (perhaps not so succinctly articulated) behind the Writers’ Studio series where I host interviews with other writers.
Today is no different: we hear from Dan Dewitt, author of Orpheus, a book featuring the undead. Cameron Holt is fortunate enough to survive the initial outbreak that turns his New England island community into a hive of the undead. So is his son, Ethan. Now, the only thing keeping Holt going is the determination to rescue his son from the undead…or remove him permanently from their ranks. Unfortunately, zombies aren’t the only thing getting in his way.
What’s your writing background?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in English, which means next to nothing when it comes to writing fiction. Still, I took a bunch of creative writing classes and really enjoyed them. Before that, I dabbled in short stories here and there, but wasn’t ready to try and make a career out of it. I wrote one screenplay in 2001 that advanced to the second round at Austin (and I’m about ¼ of the way into its novelization). I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I got really serious after participating in NaNoWriMo in 2006. Since then, I’ve published a couple of short stories in e-zines and one non-fiction profile in a local magazine. But I’m really just a guy who loves to read fiction and tell a story from time to time.
Why did you choose the self-publishing?route?
I started out going the traditional route last year. Before I even received my first rejection, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. I looked at the self-publishing options available and compared them to traditional. I thought it would be close, but self-pub won in a rout. Ease of publishing, setting my own price, higher royalties…self-pub offers everything I want. I don’t need to hit a home run with self-pub; routinely cranking out singles and doubles is good enough.
Who knows? Maybe the right offer from a traditional house comes my way someday. But waiting for that slim chance instead of getting in the game now made no sense to me.
Would you recommend self-publishing to a new author?
For the right kind of new author, absolutely. If an author is talented, patient, prolific, and entrepreneurial enough, I have to believe that they stand a greater chance of success than they would trying to get past the gatekeepers of traditional publishing.
What words of encouragement would you say to someone who wants to start writing?
If you’re just starting out, first be sure that you want to write because it interests you, and not because you think it’s a way to get rich in this brave, new world of publishing opportunity. Writing well is a lot of hard work, and there may never be the payoff that you expect.
Having said that…it’s important to realize that none of us really know anything. Read. Read. Read some more. See how established authors do it. Read King’s “On Writing.” Learn the rules. Then you can figure out how to break them with style. I’ve been doing this for a while and I’m still finding my sweet spot.
Write whenever you can, whatever you can. Outline or discovery write. Try different genres. Experiment with POV. Most importantly, don’t bother writing something that you yourself wouldn’t like to read, just because you think it will sell.
To read more about Dan and his experience writing, click here.
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Orpheus received two five-star reviews from The Masquerade Crew.
What about you? Have you considered self publishing? Why or why not?