To Self-Pub or Not to Self-Pub?

Sunday, May 8, 2022 10:23 AM

Why "4wrd" for the new blog? Because brevity is the soul of wit...and I struggle mightily with brevity. Because the online world loves "handles" that condense meaning into fewer characters. Because a cybersecurity geek should learn lessons from the (white-hat) hackers he admires. Also, because a Foreword is an introduction to a written work, and I hope to introduce you to some of mine. And I sincerely hope we can move forward together.

I was very lucky, about a decade ago, to submit my first novel to Deron Douglas at Double Dragon Publishing. At the time, I'd written a bunch of short fiction, published in various magazines and anthologies, but no novel-length works. And I was clueless: about the publishing lifecycle for a novel, the marketing and promotion burden, the distribution mechanisms for delivering eBooks through the major online bookstore channels. With short stories, that wasn't my problem; the magazine or anthology publisher handled that. Pretty much everything about getting a new novel to readers was out of my comfort zone. Double Dragon took care of those gory details.

End result: I sure didn't burn up the bestseller lists, but my novels got out there. The first two in the Aquarius Rising series — In the Tears of God and Blood Tide — won awards. I was very grateful to Double Dragon for the education and exposure. Then, after many years of pioneering in the eBook space, Double Dragon closed their digital doors. At that point, I faced a difficult choice, one unique to writers in our modern era, where anyone with a computer and an internet connection has access to options that writers a century ago couldn't have imagined.

Deron Douglas (as a very conscientious publisher with concern for his stable of authors) offered all of us a path to continued publication with another eBook publisher he knew and trusted. Fair enough. But this was a time to revisit the option of self-publication. That used to be akin to "vanity publishing" in most people's eyes. Not true anymore. Amazon, for example, provides powerful self-publishing facilities to authors via its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) channel. Smashwords offers similar self-publishing power for authors to target all the markets other than Amazon (Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.). Why self-publish? Based on my experience with my first three novels, here are some valid reasons to consider it:

  • Control over the cover art
  • Control over pricing
  • Realistically, marketing and promotion for most small publishers is delegated to the authors themselves anyway
  • Author can upload changes directly, on his or her own timeline

At the end of the day, I decided to try self-publishing the Aquarius Rising Trilogy in one, consolidated volume via KDP. This presents a chance to reach more readers via KDP Select...and, candidly, I'd rather reach a broader audience at this point than agonize over sales revenue. I don't expect to quit my day job. I just want to get my work in front of readers. Also, with this approach, I can use my go-to writing tool (Scrivener — great software!) to compile an eBook in EPUB format that's already formatted as I want it, then directly upload that into KDP. I can also have fun with the process by recruiting my sons to craft original cover art and illustrations for the book. Father-son bonding opportunity! ;-)

So that's where I landed: to self-pub. We'll see how this experiment works out. Regardless, I'm enjoying the adventure. I'll keep you posted!