By Denise Deegan
I have been published traditionally. I have self-published. I have been published by Amazon imprint, Lake Union Publishing. There are pros and cons to every publishing route. Why self-publish?
For me, there were a few reasons. The rights to my traditionally published novels reverted to me as per my publishing contract when the books went out of print. Self-publishing had become a very real option by then. What did it offer?
It offered a chance to reach global markets. It offered adventure, a whole new experience and the ability to control it all myself. The alternative was to just let the rights sit there. To me that didn’t seem to make any sense.
So I looked at my novels. Three out of four were topical. One was outdated, I felt. I read each novel again and knew immediately that I would have to edit them. In the eight years or so since they have been published, so much had changed. Language had changed. Society’s perceptions (for example, of mental illness) had changed. *I* had changed. Certain characters now annoyed me. They needed to grow up.
I so I created a pen name, Aimee Alexander, my children’s names combined. I edited the books from scratch. I invested in a how-to guide called “Self-Printed” by Catherine Ryan Howard, which took me by the hand and led me through every single step of getting a book ready to self-publish.
I hired an editor and a book cover designer. I especially enjoyed the process of book cover design as I love art. One of my covers, “Pause to Rewind”, features my son, while another, “Through the Barricades”, features my daughter. It has been very special to involve my family in this adventure.
I changed the book titles because I had never been fully happy with them. And, when I was ready, one by one I put the novels up on Amazon. I had decided to start using the least complicated self-publishing route to make sure I wasn’t taking on too much. I didn’t want to come a cropper.
My books became Amazon bestsellers. This was partly due to marketing, partly due to reader reaction to the stories themselves. Reviews are hugely important on Amazon. They are there at the point of purchase. And they affect how visible your book becomes on the site.
One of my novels attracted the attention of Amazon Publishing, which had started publishing via various imprints. One of their commissioning editors contacted me to see if I would be interested in them publishing “The Accidental Life of Greg Millar”. I had seen how well their books performed, so I signed up. The novel became a bestseller, and I’m now working with a movie producer on adapting it for film.
I’m not saying that self-publishing is easy. It’s hard and it’s challenging. But you learn so much – about design, about the world of publishing, about yourself. You realize what you are capable of achieving. You surprise yourself. Often.
I am giving a webinar on the 21st of November on behalf of SCBWI Ireland, where I will be talking about the pros and cons of self-publishing. I will touch on areas such as marketing and distribution – what worked for me and for other authors and author/illustrators that I have spoken to. I will be taking your questions. Lots of them.
When considering self-publishing, there can be many concerns. Common questions include: What will it cost? Do I have the skills? Can I do it all? Is there a lingering bias against self-publishing? I will address all these very real concerns during the webinar.
Some people self-publish because they’re tired of rejection. Some traditionally-published authors self-publish to to capitalise on rights in countries. Others seek adventure and momentum. Some like the control self-publishing offers.
To anyone tired of rejection, who is considering throwing in the towel, I would absolutely say “Self-publish!”. It is your very valid dream. And there is something very special about taking control of your dreams. If you fail, at least you will know that you tried everything. And you will have learned so much.
So many things happened for me because I refused to let my rights sit in a drawer. I became a bestseller, won awards, am working with a movie producer, got to present at a conference in LA, and met so many amazing people.
Self-publishing is challenging, no question, but there is such an incredible and uniquely supportive community out there in the indie world, that even the most hopelessly technophobic individuals like me can do it – in whatever way is best for them.
Join me to hear about the unique challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the world of self-publishing. You may find that it’s not for you. You may find which way is the best way for you. Or you may find that this is exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
You can register at https://ireland.scbwi.org/events/self-publishing-21nov18/ to attend the webinar.
(c) Denise Deegan
Denise Deegan is an award-winning, internationally bestselling author of adult, teen, and children’s fiction.
Denise has been a nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations officer, entrepreneur and college lecturer. Her most difficult job was checkout girl, though the experience did inspire a short story…
Denise writes for adults, teenagers and children. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House, Hachette, Lake Union Publishing and Amazon Publishing. Writing under the pen name Aimee Alexander, Denise’s contemporary family dramas have become international bestsellers on Kindle.
Denise’s most recent novel, Through the Barricades, won the SCBWI Spark Award 2017 and was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Booklife ‘Books to Watch’. Her pre-published novel, The Accidental Pirate has been chosen as the middle-grade finalist in Publisher Weekly’s Booklife Prize.
Denise is represented by Barry Krost Management. She is a member of the SCBWI.