If you own an ereader, odds are you’ll know something about the self-publishing revolution. But what you may not know is why self-publishing is on the rise. I’d like to give my own perception on why so many authors are choosing to be independent.
I’ll be completely honest; I’ve never been with a traditional publisher. I only wrote one query letter to an agent before self-publishing. That might seem a little hasty, but a Google search revealed that an unknown author writes, on average, about 65 queries before landing an agent. And for anyone who hasn’t written a query letter, let me say that writing one was more stressful than writing an entire book. Literary agents are the gatekeepers of the publishing domain and they have strict instructions from publishers as to whom they are allowed to let in. Publishers determine what readers want and since agents are selling to the publishers, they need to satisfy the publishers’ wants. Literary agents receive hundreds of queries per day and in order to filter them, most agents blog about how to write a tailor-made query that just might get you noticed. When I wrote my query, I researched the agent, what they wanted in a query, wrote and rewrote the letter and proofread it a hundred times before I hit the send button. But there was one vital piece of information I didn’t research—what the publisher wanted. It was after I wrote the query that I came across an article in Publishers Weekly stating publishers don’t want anything with a “whiff of dystopia” about it and they’re done with trilogies (see Publishers Weekly article here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/59297-new-trends-in-ya-the-agents-perspective.html ) I pitched my young adult dystopian trilogy in the very first line of my query. Doh.
After I self-published Sunset Rising, I joined a professional writers group. I didn’t know much about the industry and I was hoping to learn. At first, I was a little intimidated belonging to a group of writers who had the stamp of approval from an actual publisher. After all, there’s still a stigma attached to anyone who self-publishes. But then I heard the murmurings of unrest…the complaints about publishers demanding more social media marketing from their authors, and giving less in return. I discovered that for every $10 ebook sold, the author only made about $1 or less. I saw one writer with bloodshot eyes and high on caffeine struggling under enormous pressure to pare one hundred words out of her novel because she had gone passed the word count her publisher allowed. I witnessed authors banning together, comparing battle scars and low royalty paystubs, bolstering each other to leave their publishers and go indie. I attended a workshop put on by an author who had given up on her publisher, struck out on her own, and reported tripling her income while enjoying greater creative freedom. Suddenly I didn’t feel so out of place in this group. In fact, I wondered if I’d dodged a bullet.
The stigma attached to being an indie is eroding. With the ebook industry booming, professional services (cover artists, editors, proofreaders, beta readers, web-based advertising) once coveted by publishers are now available to independent authors. Books produced by indies are just as appealing as books produced by the publishing houses. In fact, these days the only way to tell the different between a self-published book and a traditionally published one is price; indies set their prices lower and still make more money than if they were with a publisher. Lower book prices, fresh storylines, and novels that don’t follow a set formula are gaining in popularity among readers. And at the end of the day, it’s always been readers who determine the worth of a book.
So the real question becomes why would an author spend months or years writing queries, or sitting in a slush pile, or receive low royalty payments in return for writing a novel AND doing their own social media, when they can self-publish? I now have over 30,000 copies of Sunset Rising in circulation with a 4.6/5 star rating on Amazon and it’s been on their bestseller list in three different genres. I don’t regret self-publishing at all.
I’m not trying to give publishers a bad rap. Traditionally published authors still dominate the bestseller list and the stamp of approval from a publisher still gives an unknown author, like myself, greater credibility. But in today’s market there are choices…and if it’s not working out with a publisher, you can always go indie.
February 2024: Desperate to find refuge from the nuclear storm, a group of civilians discover a secret government bio-dome. Greeted by a hail of bullets and told to turn back, the frantic refugees stand their ground and are eventually permitted entry. But the price of admission is high.
283 years later... Sunny O'Donnell is a seventeen-year-old slave who has never seen the sun. She was born in the Pit, a subterranean extension of the bio-dome. Though life had never been easy, the last couple of months had become a nightmare. Her mom was killed in the annual Cull, and her dad thought it was a good time to give up on life. Reyes Crowe, her long-time boyfriend, was pressuring her to get married, even though it would mean abandoning her father.
She didn't think things could get any worse until she was forced upstairs to the Dome to be a servant-girl at a bachelor party. That's when she met Leisel Holt, the president's daughter, and her fiancé, Jack Kenner.
Now Sunny is wanted for treason. If they catch her, she'll be executed.
She thought Leisel's betrayal was the end. But it was just the beginning.
"Sunset Rising" is Book One of a series.
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Genre - YA Science Fiction, Dystopian
Rating – PG-16
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