As an aspiring writer, the idea of being able to live off my writing is an intriguing and alluring one. Forget being rich and famous, though; just enough money to prevent having a distracting “real job” is what I’m after. The writing is the important part. Getting paid for it is just icing on the cake.
It’s a fascinating dichotomy (when it’s not MY dichotomy, that is). On the one side, writing is all I want to do and the “business” aspect of the novel industry is the last thing I want to mess with. On the other, doing NOTHING but writing isn’t particularly lucrative. I either have to have do everything that’s involved in traditional publishing, self-publish, or keep a job that pays for my living expenses while I write as a “hobby”.
So, there’s two sides to this thing called “being an author”. We don’t have to like it, we just have to deal with it. Personally, I find the traditional publishing route to be the most attractive, but it’s not an option while still writing my first book. Which leaves two options. For now, the regular job is a given, but I like the idea of doing some minor self-publishing as well. Putting my work out there for sale, as well as for free, has a ring to it that I like. One or two stories, as e-books (and print for those who want them) among a crowd of free-to-read stories.
Unfortunately, even making the decision to self-publish doesn’t really simplify matters much. There’s a whole trainload of options out there, each claiming to be better for the self-publishing author than the last. Even going the extreme self-publishing route and eschewing services like Amazon’s, Kobo, etc, by selling directly via your own website and platform still doesn’t cut down on the complications.
The self-publishing services previously mentioned certainly make actually the publishing and cash-registering work much easier, but that’s all. They don’t advertise for you. They don’t edit your poorly written first draft for you. They don’t check for spelling, grammar, or formatting. All of these things CAN be done for you, for a fee… but that leads us right back to the problem we had in the first place; not enough money. If you’re selling your book because you can’t afford to let readers have it for free (because you’d starve) it doesn’t make much sense to pay all those fees if you can do it yourself. (Editing excepted; there’s no DIY alternative to a good third party editing your work).
Selling it completely via your own website brings up all these challenges (wonderfully minus the percentages publishing services take and the irritating quagmire of the legal agreements, of course) and more. You have to deal with all of the money yourself. All the deliveries yourself, too. How do you deliver an e-book? Do you know? I sure don’t. If you buy from Amazon, it just pops up in your “Library”, all ready to download. I assume the other online booksellers are much the same. BUt how does a serious self-publisher do it? Email? Sounds unwieldy. It might work, but it might take a lot of work. Plus, the hassle of routing the payments through your own website could have a lot of problems waiting for you.
Frankly? I’m going to try it anyway. I don’t know which path I’ll take (I’m leaning towards completely autonomous self-publishing on my own website) but I know I’ll try. Bringing in a little money would be nice, sure, but that’s not the whole thing. Just working to sell my own work should be a really interesting project. Even if I don’t succeed (knock on wood), I should learn a lot. Heck, maybe I’ll even write a book about it. It’d be a really boring book…. or would it?
Say… that gives me an idea…