July 23, 2019
I’ve written before that when I started writing On Swift Wings, it was purely for the fun and challenge of writing a story. As it progressed, I started thinking more about publishing the book. This was my first foray into the writing space, but I had done a few things that required a little special attention:
- Voice: I wrote the story in a very formal and classic voice, in as close a style to Jonathan Swift as I could. I borrowed some of his conventions and styles. This also meant that it has a very distant flavour. Most modern novels are written with a very close, in-the-action, sort of voice.
- Language: I wanted to write a book that was challenging and deep. This definitely won’t appeal to the broadest audience, but it was more important to me to write something of which I would be proud than something that would sell a billion copies and make me fabulously wealthy… that would be cool though.
- Message: As I laboured on the book, I realized how important it was that I use the platform effectively and actually say what I wanted to say. It was critical to me that the message not overwhelm the narrative, but I wanted to say what I wanted to say.
Originally I wanted to get the book published by a big 5 publisher (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster), get the book as widely distributed as possible, and get it out to the widest audience possible. While writing the book, I was researching agents, publishers, subjects, page limits, suggestions, advice, and everything else I could imagine. Obviously, the chances of being a first-time, unknown author getting picked up by a giant publisher is extremely low, virtually impossible.
I explored everything openly, trying to decide what I wanted to do. I would divide publishers into three distinct groups:
- Classic/Traditional Publishers: Wide, classic, distribution. Unlikely to read a book directly from an author, requires an agent to read the book and sign on first, and then the agent shops around the book to publishers. There are a number of big benefits to classic publishing houses, probably the biggest being the highest potential for sales, and being guided by an expert team through editing and marketing. The drawbacks are significant as well: loss of creative control, huge delays in getting published, smaller share of royalties. Considering my message and voice were important to me, I believe the work and compromises required to work with a traditional publisher would not be in my best interests.
- Vanity Publishers: I didn’t know anything about this space before I nearly fell into what I now consider to be a bit of a trap. At first glance, these look like traditional publishers except that vanity publishers are like full-service self-publishers. They offer a-la-carte services like editing, marketing, cover design, etc. They will print your book and help you put your book in stores, as I understand anyway. The services are expensive and while it would be helpful to have somebody who knows what they are doing guide me through the process, I felt that in today’s world, I could try and to the job myself.
- Self-Publishing: As I stumbled on this, led in part by my editor, I felt most comfortable with this option. Self-publishing for me involved publishing on IngramSpark and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. KDP is really simple to set up and gets your book up to Amazon almost instantly. IngramSpark is a little more complicated, but it goes out to book sellers, libraries, and online and produces Hardcover books. Choosing self-publishing meant that I would be responsible for editing, covers, formatting, marketing, and all pricing and distribution decisions. While I wasn’t really prepared of this, the internet is an incredible resource, and as I joining a community of people who like to write… well, they all write about everything. A secondary benefit of both of the self-publishing platforms I chose are that they are on-demand. When you put an order in with them, they print a copy of the book at that time. I don’t have to order 500 books and live in a house full of books that I haven’t figured out how to sell.
I chose to go with self-publishing. When you order a copy of my book it is printed on-demand, if you order a paperback from Amazon, it is coming from KDP. If you order either a hardcover or a paperback from somewhere else, it is being printed by IngramSpark.
I chose to go with self-publishing. When you order a copy of my book it is printed on-demand, if you order a paperback from Amazon, it is coming from KDP. If you order either a hardcover or a paperback from somewhere else, it is being printed by IngramSpark. In both cases, printing can occur anywhere in the world. In fact, Amazon apparently uses IngramSpark for their overflow anyway. That way, you can be sure that your copy will arrive as quickly as possible.
It certainly wasn’t the easiest path, I’ve had to learn a lot about things that I didn’t even know existed before I started. Pricing, marketing, editing, book cover design and requirements, page layout, fonts and formatting, publishing, ordering, taxes, ISBN information, exclusivity, etc. It is pretty amazing the work that goes into every book you’ve ever read. It does play into my own brand of crazy. (I want to understand everything) Learning a plethora of things about diverse subjects was a pretty awesome experience.
A second part of who I am is that I love to tell anybody who will listen everything I know. I swear this isn’t arrogance, but a sincere wish to help everybody be the best they can be. I would be more than happy to answer any more questions about this. Let me know about what you’d like to learn more and I’ll answer as honestly and thoroughly as I can.
Next: Going it alone (with freelancers)