A Guest Post by Rusty Fischer, author of Zombies Don’t Cry
Recently I read a wonderful book by Deborah Bryan called The Monster’s Daughter. I keep calling it “lyrical” in all my (five-star) reviews because, well, it is; there is poetry on nearly every page and the author created such a carefully-constructed world I loved spending time there – and hated when the story ended. (Luckily, it’s the first in a trilogy, so… it’s not really “over,” over.)
The thing is, The Monster’s Daughter was self-published; beautifully and professionally so. It gave me hope that, someday, I too could self-publish successfully. Key word being: someday.
For now, though, I’m just not ready; and here are three good reasons why:
The First Reason I’m Not Ready to Self-Publish (Yet): Editing!
I just finished my “last” round of edits – I always use quotes around “last” because you know they never really are – for my new YA book coming out soon.
I’ve numbered them for my records and this is “Version # 9.” I thought we were done at oh, say, Version #… 5?
But every version, one of us catches something different. Like this last time, I had one of my characters saying, “But you said we should never split up; that’s what you said!” To. The. Wrong. Character.
The thing is, I’m not sure I would have read and re-read that book NINE different times if left to my own devices; but I’m ultimately glad that I did.
So, yeah, I need that backup; I need that “safety net” of two or three extra pairs of eyes on the book to catch things like that during the long and occasionally challenging – but ultimately necessary – editorial process.
What’s more, I want it. I really like the idea of my publisher having this whole umbrella of services that I really need and want, like… the same kick-butt cover designer (I’ve had really good luck with my cover designers so far!), the same team of copy editors, the same tough as nails Managing Editor, the same nurturing Senior Editor, etc.
I know that in this world of freelance professionals I could easily find a great cover designer, a great book formatter, a great copy editor, even a great developmental editor but… am I willing to go that far?
The Second Reason I’m Not Ready to Self-Publish (Yet): I’m “Just the Writer,” Not “the Boss”
What’s more, am I willing to be the last pair of eyes on every one of those vendors? From the cover designer to the copy editor to the formatter? I guess I just don’t trust myself enough yet to be “the boss” yet.
I’d rather be “just the writer” and spend my time there for now.
Don’t get me wrong; I can see the benefits of self-publishing. One of them is speed. I write fast and I’m always worried that “someone will get out there with this idea faster than me.” I don’t mean I rush (okay, sometimes I rush), but when I get fixated on an idea I’m like a bulldog and won’t let it go until I’m done with a new YA novel. Sometimes it would be nice if things came out faster.
But… but… publishers are good about saying, “Look, let’s not saturate the market do-do brain. Let’s dole these things out, a few months at a time so folks actually look forward to what’s coming next.”
That’s good advice; good advice I probably wouldn’t listen to if I was solely on my own.
The Third Reason I’m Not Ready to Self-Publish (Yet): Gratitude
Maybe it’s because I’ve tried for so long to get a publisher before finally finding success this past year, but… I’m really grateful for all my publishers do. From Medallion to Decadent to Noble Young Adult to Echelon Press/Quake, I enjoy the editorial process, the expectation of cover leaks and excerpts and release dates and all the “publisher-y” things that go along with publishing. I’m not typically a “joiner” in my personal life, but in my writing life I’m glad to be part of a team; I need that teamwork to be successful.
So I work hard and try to promote myself and tweet and share on Facebook and post FREE stories on Scribd and Smashwords to build my author “brand” because I really want to pay my publishers back for having faith in me.
I know going with a publisher means I give up a little money, a little control and a little freedom, but I’m okay with that for now. As long as I’ve been writing, professionally for others and personally for myself, I still have loads to learn; about promotion, about editing, about timing, about branding, about storytelling and, yes… about writing – the craft, mechanics and occasional magic of writing.
I don’t feel comfortable learning all that alone; as solitary and private as I am in my writing life, I’m getting more and more social in my author life – and that’s a good thing. I’m “meeting” more authors online; like Jen here.
They teach me things even without knowing it. In fact, I always call Jen my “promotional hero” because just by watching her I’ve learned a lot of the rules of social media, when to post, how often, how to find reviewers for your eBooks, the list goes on.
Editorially, I learn something new with every pass through every manuscript; about dialogue tags, about characterization, about not giving too much away, about not holding too much back, about punctuation, about avoiding fads. Like. This. One. And so much more.
I know I have lots more to learn and I’m not comfortable learning that on my own just yet. Maybe I’m over thinking all this; I do that. Maybe I’m just being a Nervous Ned; I do that, too. But I don’t think so. For me, for now, as long as I’m lucky enough to be published with this elite group of independent, forward-thinking and author-loving publishers, I’m going to bask in that and wring it for every drop of knowledge, experience and wisdom I can possibly gain.
But, again, that’s just me. If you are a successfully self-published author, and I know there are plenty of you out there, I don’t mean to offend, ruffle feathers or take aim. We are all different and learn at different points of our lives. I’m envious of you; I really am. But I’m also proud of what I’ve accomplished, too, and a big part of me knows I couldn’t have done that without a LOT of support; and, ultimately, that’s what publishers offer, I think: support.
Yours in YA,
About the author: Rusty Fischer is the author of Zombies Don’t Cry: A Living Dead Love Story, out now from Medallion Press.
Visit his blog, www.zombiesdontblog.blogspot.com, for news, reviews, cover leaks, writing and publishing advice, book excerpts and more!
Look for his next book, Vamplayers, due out from Medallion next year!