Last week, I made a big decision. A terrifying, risky, exhilarating decision.
I will be self-publishing The Polaris Uprising.
This was not a decision I made overnight. In fact, it’s something I started wrestling with even before I sat down to write the first word of the first draft. When the idea for the book first came into my head, I was determined to self-publish it. Then as I thought more about it, I decided I would try pursuing the traditional route first, and then consider self-publishing if that didn’t work out. After all, I’ve had this dream my entire life, and the dream was being traditionally published.
And so, when I finished the countless drafts of the book, I crafted my query and my synopsis and started researching agents. I targeted those I felt would be a great fit, who’d be able to share my vision for the book. But all along, there was an unease in me I couldn’t quite quiet. My gut was trying to tell me something–it was screaming and yelling, in fact. And finally, several weeks into the query process, I finally gave in and listened to it.
It told me this: the dream had changed.
Publishing itself has changed. It’s been transforming for the last few years now, but never more so than in the last 12 months or so. Self-publishing has been growing in acceptance and legitimacy at an almost exponential rate. With proponents such as Guy Kawasaki and inspiring success stories such as Colleen Hoover, the stigma that’s long dogged self-publishing is starting to erode and reveal an exciting new business model that’s all kinds of scary, yes, but also one filled with promise if you can approach it with care, research, and hard work.
I have a tremendous respect for agents and publishers. This business model has been around for decades and will be around for more. I don’t see it going away completely. These guys work hard and play valuable roles in the industry. But just as individuals have a choice as to whether they’d like to enter the business world by either getting a job in a company or striking it out on their own, we writers now have a similar choice.
Will it require hard work? Absolutely. Will it require getting out of the comfort zone? You bet. Will it require money, time, patience, a tolerance for risk? Yes, yes, and hell yes.
But will the reward of greater control and the prospect of having a more direct connection with your readers be worth all of those things? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.
I’m lucky. I’m a marketer by trade. The marketing aspect doesn’t scare me (and in fact, I geek out on it). I’ve got a budget I can set aside for this, and I will be able to make a reasonable investment and still be in good financial shape if I never see a single cent of it come back. I know how exceedingly fortunate I am to be in that situation. And that made the risks of this so much less daunting.
I’m going to be ok even if this goes out there and there’s barely a ripple in the ocean.
That said, I’m planning to go out there with this and give it all I’ve got. I’ve lined a team of amazing professionals–a fantastic editor and a brilliant designer–who will help me put together the best possible book I can get out there. I’ve got a marketing plan all ready to go. I’m going to set myself up for success as best I can, and then… whatever happens will happen. I certainly hope it will work out, but I’m also prepared for the possibility of it fizzling and fading into oblivion.
No matter what, though, my book will be out there and no one will be ever to take that away from me, and to me, that is priceless.