After a lot of thought and research, I’ve decided to self-publish my third novel, The Dragon’s Daughter. It’s a coming-of-age story about Mariah Baxter, the 16-year-old daughter of a Ku Klux Klan grand dragon, and it caught the interest of sixteen agents with impressive client lists, some of whom suggested revisions and read it again after I’d revised. The results, sadly, were the same. No one wanted to take a chance on me. I’m not famous. I don’t have a huge platform or a ready-made audience. They all said no.
When I started writing novels about ten years ago, I decided I would publish traditionally or not all. Now, granted, ten years ago self-publishing was not what it is today. But even after I finished querying the agents I felt were best suited to represent The Dragon’s Daughter and been turned down by them all, and even though self-publishing no longer bears the stigma it once did, I still felt like it wasn’t for me.
Self-publishing scared me. Hell, I’m going to do it and it still scares me.
I’m scared to self-publish because it’s all up to me. I have to make sure I do everything I absolutely can to promote my book. I have to try and reach as many people as I can and introduce them to my book. I have just shy of 300 Facebook friends and fewer than 50 Twitter followers. My blog gets sporadic interest, but I definitely need to be writing more here. I hope more than 350 people buy my book. But whether they do or they don’t, it’s up to me.
I have to worry about the technical issues: Is it proofed to within an inch of its life? Is it formatted correctly? Do I want white pages or cream pages? (White.) What do I do about a cover? (I ask my amazingly talented brother to design one.) Should I let Create Space assign me an ISBN or should I buy my own? (I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy my own.) Should I create my own “publishing company”? (I put “publishing company” in quotation marks because I do believe I am going to do this, but I have no intention of publishing anyone’s book but my own.)
But when all of this is said and done, the biggest concern for me is the quality of the story. Did I write a book that other people will enjoy? Did I create characters that seem real, that seem like people you might actually meet one day, people that you will think about long after you’ve finished reading my book? Is the story believable? Do you care about it and about (at least some of) my characters?
I believe in my book. I believe in my characters. I believe in my story. And that, my friends, is why I’m self-publishing. I want to give my book a chance to see the world. I want to introduce you to Mariah, Chloe, Jeremy, Justin, and the dragon himself, Craig Baxter. I want you to sympathize with the struggles these kids go through, and I want you to hate the dragon—and his blackhawk, Jimmy Burns, Jr.
And I think you will, on all counts.
My brother is designing the cover as I write. I’m still sorting out ISBN and publishing company details. I’ll keep you posted on what I learn and what I decide.
And I’ll be sharing little stories about Mariah’s family before I release the book, stories that go all the way back to the Civil War.
Please come along with me on this wonderful, scary, adventuresome ride of self-publishing. And if you have stories of your own, please share them.