The Ups and Downs of Self-Publishing

There is a misconception that authors who self-publish do so because they cannot hack it in traditional publishing. Now, this has been argued by other writers unto death, so I’m just going to bring up my favorite and least favorite elements of the gig.

And when she is up, she is up

Ok, by far the best, nigh-unto-ecstasy-inducing aspect of my authorship is the absolute carte blanche granted to me by my husband to buy any books, or attend any venues, I deem necessary for research. Could be a writers’ salon. Could be dropping $100 at the used book store. If it benefits my writing, he supports it. He may regret it later when we balance the checkbook, but he still supports it. Now, the question is: which do I value more? My husband’s questionable decision to give me a platinum card? Or buying >50 books every time I walk in a store? Tough call. Tough, tough call. Um, let’s leave that one up to your imagination. While Hell hath no fury like a library of scorned horror books, I’ve been married too long to go back to sleeping single.

Within the last 5 days, I’ve added over 100 books to my collection. And I realize that sounds exorbitant, but when you consider that some classic children books are under 30 pages, you’ll realize that the reading (and analysis) of children’s books takes considerably less time than Ulysses. Unlike some other people (because this is a vice found in authors and readers alike), I don’t get rid of books as soon as I’ve read them. I understand that some people need to make room for new works, but my mausoleum will probably contain every book I’ve ever read.

And when she is down, she is down

So what is it I hate? What is so cringe-inducing and rage-igniting? Well, marketing ranks up there. I know many indie-publishing authors have written “Getting Started” guides that are supposed to make marketing easy. Usually, it involves hitting your “warm market” (ie. friends and family) hard and fast to tell everyone they know to buy your work. And this is a very famous approach used by? Anyone? MLM’s! Ever see a mom group thread blow up faster than an MLM rep looking to bring new people in when someone asks about working from home??? If you’ve been on Facebook, at least, since 2010, you know what I mean. MLM’s blowing up your feed left people bitter, jaded, and feeling cheated. So, yeah. Marketing that way is harder for me because my crew is savvy. I could go, “OMG! This gold-plated dog doo-doo is the end all!” and they’d go, “Gimme a can of gold Krylon and wait till my dog goes out. It’s cheaper and fresher!” So, I use techniques that require heaps of patience because they build slower, like a good Memphis barbecue, sealing in all the goodness.

But there’s something harder than that. Hardest thing EVER is writing stories I know I will never publish. Which, I guess, I can closest describe as being in a relationship with someone you love, and you look forward to seeing them everyday, and you want to hear everything they have to tell you – but in your heart you know they just aren’t the one and, no matter how you try to twist the fates, your paths are destined to diverge in the golden wood, only to become tattered memories carried away on the wistful winds.

I love my characters! Even my villains, albeit dysfunctionally. I want to share them with everyone. I want to run up to random children in the supermarket and ask them if they ever heard The Buttercup Button Banjos of Brôqueville. But that would be bad on many, many levels. Not the least my permanent record. But while we can argue every story is meant to be told/written, not every story is meant to be shared. I may love my mischievous, malodorous monster family, and they may have thoroughly entertaining misadventures to my mind, but someone else can read it and say, “You need to bury this.”

Maybe the topic has just passed out of fashion. Maybe the humor is too niche to appeal to a sustaining portion of the market. Maybe its a silent cry for the succor of therapy. Whatever the reason, there are some stories, entertaining to us though they may be, that just aren’t meant to go on sale. Sometimes it’s a matter of waiting for trends to swing back your way, and sometimes they remain our lifelong companions who perform parlor tricks for the kids every holiday.

Either way, like young techs when the bubble burst at the beginning of the 21st century, they never spread their speckled wings and take to the sky. They live on the futon in the basement of my hard drive, pounding the old CRT TV to get it switch channels, remaining lost souls covered in cheese powder. And while I may occasionally descend the steps to fluff and gussy one up for a shot at a big interview, I can’t help but look longingly at the many who are relegated to subterranean scuttling for the rest of my existence. I love them, and will always care for them, and that has to be enough.

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