Friday, January 21, 2011
Guest Blogger - Sarra Cannon
Is Self-Publishing Really An Option?
It's a question on a lot of writers' minds these days. Last summer, it was a question that kept me up at night. I'd been writing seriously for three years, and I wanted what most writers want - to find an agent and get a publishing contract. No easy task, to say the least.
The industry is in a state of change, like it or not. Many publishers are slimming down. Marketing departments are afraid to take risks. Advances are dwindling. Being a writer these days is far from easy.
On the other hand, self-publishing has never been easier. Or cheaper.
I started to look around at some of the Top 100 lists on Amazon's Kindle store. What I noticed was that several of the writers on these lists were self-published. Writers like Amanda Hocking and Karen McQuestion, who had no previous experience with publishing. These writers were taking their careers in their own hands and they were finding success. No gate-keepers. No rules. Just passion and determination.
Could I self-publish? Was it really an option for me? The more I researched, the more I realized just how easy it is these days. Years ago, self-publishing meant a huge investment in both time and money. It meant ordering boxes of books that couldn't be returned and finding your own distribution. But today, everything has changed. With the growing popularity of eReaders and eBooks, there are several online stores that allow writers to upload their books for sale. And the best part? It doesn't cost a dime.
In late October, I finally took a leap of faith. Along with my husband's help, I formatted my latest book, BEAUTIFUL DEMONS, and uploaded it to Smashwords, Amazon's Kindle store, and Barnes & Noble's newly launched PubIt! store. Other than the small fee I paid a friend for my book cover design, the entire process was free. Within forty-eight hours, my first book was available at the two largest online retail stores for eBooks. Compared to the years it sometimes takes to find an agent, sign a publishing contract, and go through the process of taking that book to print, self-publishing was amazingly fast and easy.
In my first full month, I sold 139 copies. A small start, but it was so exciting! My books were finding their way into the hands of real readers! I was in control of my career, and it was exhilarating. In December, I released a new book, INNER DEMONS, and combined with my first book, sold a total of 989 copies. I was floored. Over a thousand copies in two months? I could hardly believe it.
My sales continue to grow and each day when I look at the numbers rolling in, I know that I made the right decision by self-publishing. My writing is more free and more fun now that I no longer have to worry about whether a publishing house will find my ideas marketable. I get to choose my own titles and make all of the final decisions on book covers, promotion, and content. I get instant feedback in the form of reviews, ratings and sales rank. And I know exactly how many sales I've made on any given day without having to wait for a royalty statement. These are just some of the things I love about self-publishing.
Of course, it isn't all sunshine and roses. Self-publishing is hard work. I knew I couldn't just list a single book and expect to sell thousands of copies without any marketing or promotion. Being an Indie author is a huge time commitment. When I'm not writing, I spend my days building up my twitter account, making friends on goodreads, blogging and finding other bloggers to review my books. I'm constantly looking for ways to connect with readers. The internet is a powerful tool, but it takes time to establish a presence and help get word of mouth going. Plus, online, content is key. The more quality content an Indie author has, the better. My personal goal is to self-publish five more books in 2011, starting with the third book in my Peachville High Demons series, SHADOW DEMONS, this February. It won't be easy, but I know in my heart it will be worth every moment of hard work.
If you've been wondering whether self-publishing is really an option for you, I say there's never been a better time to take that next step.
Sarra Cannon writes young adult fiction about zombies, witches, and the occasional demon cheerleader. Her first two books, BEAUTIFUL DEMONS and INNER DEMONS, are available in digital format on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Look for Book 3, SHADOW DEMONS, out February 23rd! Connect with Sarra online at www.sarracannon.com or on Twitter (sarramaria).