Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Self-publishing: but dude, I just wanna be a writer

A lot of fuss at the moment about self-publishing, and whether it's the way of the future, when we've got big-name authors turning down six-figure contracts and people without a platform selling zillions of copies per month of their self-pubbed books.

Yay and good luck to those people. I'll buy a self-pubbed book to read if I like the look of it. No prejudice here.

But I don't want to self-publish, and here's why.

The main advantage of SP that's being touted seems to be money. As in, the author makes more of it per book, because they're getting the whole (or nearly all of) cover price, not just a small royalty. So why let a publisher profit from your work, when you can take all the money yourself?

See, thing is, that's like saying to me, "Wow, Erica, you could make much more money as a lawyer than you ever will from your books. Why don't you go work for a law firm?"

And I could, y'know. My uni (college) degree is law. I'm admitted to the bar. I could go work for Local Law Firm, Inc. doing divorces and traffic violations, and I can tell you right now, I'd make more on a junior lawyer's salary than I'm getting right this moment writing for a NY publisher.

But I want to be a writer. I don't want to be a lawyer.

Nor do I want to be a copy editor, a cover artist, a back cover copy cruncher, a printer, an e-book layout designer, a publicist, a distributor, a web marketer or a sales guru.

I want to be a writer. Every day, I get up, I exercise, I shop for food, and then I spend the rest of the day writing and plotting and revising and crunching revisions.

It's my dream job. And I'm not giving it up to spend my working day in hell. No matter how much the devil pays.

Sure, I do promo. Everyone does promo. But for me, it's an opportunity. It's not an imperative. I have a publisher's sales and publicity force to help me, and those people are doing stuff for authors, even if sometimes it looks like they aren't. If I didn't have them, I'd have to spend my writing time doing what they do. Ditto on cover artists, editors, layout people and so forth.

Look at interviews with the latest self-pubbed bestsellers, and see what they do all day. When do they write? Never, or as near to never as makes no difference. Sound like fun? Uh. No.

So forgive me if job satisfaction is more important to me than money. I'm weird like that. I've worked enough jobs I didn't like to know how miserable it makes me. I'd much rather use my publisher to help me reach readers, and spend my time doing what I love. Even if it means I only get a small percentage of cover price.

And hey. If that means I'm missing the chance to sell a squillion copies of my latest for $2.99 and become rich and famous? Well, shit. I guess that boat in the Bahamas will just have to wait a while. Like I'd have the time to sail it if I was self-pubbed anyway.

Seriously, people. It's not all about the money. So sue me.


  1. Sue you--wait, you said you had legal training, right? ;)

    I fully understand your POV on this.

  2. You are legally awesome!

    Before I knew about your degree, I thought you were just illegally awesome ;-)

  3. Couldn't agree with you more! I have similar conversations along the lines of "but why don't you go and edit for 'x'" - where 'x' is a better-paid permanent in-house role involving editing government or corporate or legal material. I am very happy to do that sort of thing sometimes, for variety, but not all day every day. Because, like you, I am already doing my dream job. And no amount of money would convince me to give that up!

    Likewise, I can completely understand the stance on self-publishing. As a reader I am happy to read anything that captures my interest. I have seen some people do great things in self-publishing - but there's not one success story I've seen that hasn't been told without the caveat that it takes an awful lot of non-writing work.

    Considering how many writers struggle with taking time away from writing to get through the editing and publisher-assisted promotion, it would be no small thing to forego that support and assistance altogether and do everything yourself.

  4. Yeah, I think self-pub is losing a bit of the stigma it used to have, just because we have these authors having such success with it, and because the skills to format and produce a decent-looking e-book are becoming more prevalent. Good luck to them, I say.

    Maybe when I can command a half-million-dollar offer like Barry Eisler can, I'll consider self-pubbing too -- I'll just pay someone to do the unpleasant parts for me :)

  5. You don't have to do it alone.

    Set up a corporation. Hire an editor, a Internet marketing guy, a graphics designer and an IT guy.

    Then you can write all you want.

    Don't be stupid to do it all alone.

    If you want to make money from writing, treat it like a business.

  6. Hello again Miss Hayes,
    It's your now legitimate fan Veronica. I just finished Poison Kissed the day before yesterday and I loved it to pieces.
    I went ahead and skipped your first two novels and decided to dive in headfirst with your third and much to my delight I realized that I didn't have to have read Shadowfae or Shadowglass to understand Mina and Joey's very complicated and deliciously perverse love story.
    Oh, Joey if you weren't fictional, and meant for Mina, oh the things we'd do. Xd Lol
    I have since bought Shadowfae and Shadowglass and I am now eagerly (okay, ravenously) awaiting the release of Blood Cursed.
    Thank you for responding to my previous comments, I really appreciated it. X)

    Lots of respect and affection,


    P.S. Do Mina and Joey make a cameo in Diamond and Ember's story? (They're my current obsession as far as novel couples go.)

  7. {waves} Hi Veronica! Thanks for visiting :) and I'm so pleased you enjoyed POISON KISSED! I must admit I also have a bit of a thing for Joey :)

    Joey and Mina do show up in one brief scene in BLOOD CURSED (Diamond's book), but the character from PK who features the most in BC (apart from Diamond) is Vincent, their newly-made and ravenous vampire sidekick :)

    But Joey and Mina are in SHADOWGLASS. They're the bad guys in that one, so you see their nastier side, but you do get a taste of their romantic tension too :) I so hope you enjoy that book just as much!

  8. @ Anonymous from March 26: I do treat writing like a business. And I already hire all those people -- I have a publisher :)

  9. Website looks great and the books that you have written is great i am very much found of this books. The cover page is of the book is best.

  10. {waves] Thanks for visiting, Peter :)