[Sign up here to find out more about what I'm doing!] It has been a MINUTE since last I wrote to you. And for a great reason. I was off doing the things I'm always talking about doing. You know, being creative. In the past few months I finished writing my book and finished the first draft of my new cross-genre play, which is getting an informal reading this week. My fingers are tired and my heart is happy.
So let's talk about the whole writing a book thing. Part of the big back and forth I played in my brain was whether to pursue traditional or self-publishing. Last year at this time, I went after literary agents with a book proposal. (Book proposals are essentially a detailed package that tells agents or publishers what you're going to write about. I will save the breakdown of book proposal madness for another post.) With my book proposal properly edited and my book halfway written, I started getting back some great feedback from agents. People liked the book idea and the chapters I sent them, but I didn't have a platform. I didn't have 10,000+ followers. So I wasn't valuable to them. The answer was no.
I'm good at getting rejected (read: I'm a New York City actress) so I took it in stride and felt great about the positive "no" I kept getting. But then something clicked. If I needed to build my platform either way, why was I trying to give the book to someone else to distribute and sell? After conversations with lots of smartypants in the literary industry and my own soul-searching, I relinquished the idea of traditional publishing. I wanted my book out there on my terms. I was going rogue.
So here's a list of all the reasons I'm self-publishing and why I think you should, too:
- You're in control of your publishing date. Want to wait for months and maybe even years for a publishing house to deem your book ready for public eyes? Didn't think so. Get that sucker out there.
- You pick your creative team. I am not an advocate of the DIY approach to self-publishing. Presumably, you are good at writing the book, but for all the other acts of publishing, you need a team. Preferably a team who is smarter and better than you in the areas of editing, design, marketing, publicity and branding. I love bringing creative people together so this was a lot of fun.
- You can make more money. Say what? Yes. Unless you get a six figure book deal, self-publishing (aka being in direct contact with your audience) allows you to keep promoting your book for years. Most publishers throw their marketing weight behind you for three weeks and then it's buh-bye. Long term, big reach sales are your goal.
- You write a better book. Okay, in some circumstances, this might not be true. But in my experience, knowing I had to assemble people who were going to tell me things like no and this could be better and you need to try this instead, primed my mind to be that critical thinker from the start.
- You connect directly with your audience. When you cut out the middle man, you get that direct connection with the people reading your book. That means better conversations, faster traveling word of mouth and, if you're into it, an opportunity to build a community of like-minded people.
- You can write off more on your taxes. Obviously you're going to need to pay some mulah over to Uncle Sam, but think of all the expenses you incur from setting up publishing-shop at home. Any expense related to publishing your book goes right down on the business expense list and (if you have proof of the receipt) you can write it off your taxes.
- You can update instantly. Want to amend an idea? Update your book? Create a second edition? If you self-publish, you are able to make quick revisions to your e-book and, if you're using a print-on-demand strategy, that means all your paperbacks can be instantly revised as well.
- You may get a book deal out of it. Remember that "create a platform" comment I got from literary agents? Well once you grow your platform and share your product, you may find a wider point of entry into the traditional publishing arena. If that's what you even still want.
- You have to prioritize errrrrything. It's such a big undertaking to publish and promote a book that you wrote. There is no way you can do it halfway an be successful. Re-prioritizing around that goal can teach you where to cut the fat in your life.
- You'll be cool. No, seriously. Think of any industry that is currently not capitalizing on the entrepreneurial spirit. Chances are they're going to fall behind. Being on the cutting edge with technological opportunity isn't for everyone, but if it speaks to you, why wait to jump on that bandwagon until everyone else is doing it?
- You now have proof in the universe that you are in the driver's seat. No matter what happens with the success of your book, you have done something that you've never done before. This is highly radioactive evidence, people. It signals to your brain that a) you're a badass and b) you're a badass who gets things done. Maybe next time you'll do it better, but now there is a 99.6%* chance you will do it again.
*Not a real statistic.
There's more to come on my adventures in self-publishing. Whatever you do, whether you write books, music, make art or you're an entrepreneur, thoughtful independence is essential. Stay with me as I unpack it all on my road to getting my book out there. Sign up here to make sure you don't miss a thing.
Have experience with self-publishing, self-producing, self-promoting? Comment below with your best reasons behind it.