This isn't an actual short story. This is simply me...venting about self publishing; actually, more to the point, venting about self-promotion.
I chose to self publish. I wasn't "forced" into doing it because I was frustrated after I'd sent out a gazillion query letters to agents and several million to publishers; and then, received half a gazillion reject letters from agents and twenty or thirty reject letters from publishers with the remainder of the submissions being, quite simply, ignored. Okay, I'm exaggerating... lol.
We've all heard the stories about so and so bestseller sending out hundreds of requests before finally being "discovered". Sure. I'd be afraid to take a guess at how many writers send in query letters their whole lives long and never get picked up. Okay, some of them never should be signed, but...your chances of winning the super lottery are better.
Why? Good question and I don't have a good answer. I would, however, go out on a limb and say...connections. I truly believe that if you've never been published and don't know someone in the "biz", a publisher, an agent, an editor or even a stock boy/girl; you're chances of getting a deal are only slightly better than a snowball's chance in hell. To be totally truthful, I understand why agents and publisher's are reticent to sign a "rookie". Agents - because it's hard work managing and promoting any writer. The bestselling authors have their quirks and demands, the not so bestsellers are hard to sell to publishers and the "rookies"? Well…. The publishers have to print books and store them, hoping to sell all of them. It costs a lot of money to that. A publisher hires editors, graphic artists, marketers, accountants, the list goes on. They get paid whether the book sells or not. They get paid really well, too. So, it's an expensive operation for a publisher and the traditional book market is not growing. It's not really declining (yet), but it's not growing enough to cover all the wannabe writers, either.
Sure, it would have been great to have an agent and a publishing house that supplied an editor, a graphic design artist, a media marketer, an established distributor that would place the book in every book store in the country, but...there are some drawbacks to that gig, too.
Royalties, mostly. If you're not an established bestseller, your royalties on each book is somewhere around .35. Yep, thirty-five cents. Another drawback is the economy; these days it is so bad that your chances of getting an advance...in any amount...are slim to none.
I chose to self-publish because I spent, on average, four hours per query submission; four hours that I could have been writing the next book or playing golf or twiddling my thumbs and gotten more out of it. I did the submission tango about thirty times. That's a minimum of 120 hours - 5 full days. With only a couple of exceptions, I (at least) got a response. Most of those responses were encouraging. Notes like - "Great idea, but not something I can handle" or "I like your premise, but I can't take on any more writers at the moment" or "jadda, jadda." They were all rejections - Period.
I'd been doing a lot of research into self-publishing. There are several online places to do that. I learned all about the formatting process, designing my own cover, proofreading and editing. What I didn't learn enough about (apparently) was marketing and promotion. While learning about the art of self-publishing you'll read all kinds of ways that - name the company - will help you; all the ways that you can help yourself, and it all sounds so cool, until you get the book out there and start trying to use these tools the company provides or use online "services" available, free and otherwise.
Then it becomes work…and a lot of time; time that I, and I suspect most writers who are trying to make a living while chasing their dream, don't have. It's kind of like a dog chasing its tail…round and round, almost got it….nope…try again. So, you join forums and the discussion groups that are somewhere within the vast realm of your book. Some of these discussions have thousands of entries, but when you get right down to it….less than 10 total contributors and none of them want to buy your book; all they want to do is show everyone how smart they are by dazzling the readers with brilliance, and when that fails, baffling the reader with ****. Writer's groups are GREAT! But, hey, everyone there wants to sell THEIR book, not read YOURS.
Book reviews on Amazon help (I think) but there are some definite negatives associated here, too. Most first time writers ask friends (preferably knowledgeable writer-type friends) to read an advance copy of the manuscript and post a book review. I did, too. The problem is NOT that your friends aren't really your friends when they say they will, but never get around to it; the problem is that they - like you - are not good time managers. A day turns into a week, a week into a month, each of those days thinking, "Dang, I promised so and so a book review. I need to read the damned thing…and then get to it." Something more important comes up and well…you get the gist.
I learned, too, that editorial reviews are very hard to find if you're a self-publisher. Initially, I put together a list of book review sites (the free ones, not the pay for review sites) and determined to send them all a copy of the book. When it came time to do that, I discovered that they don't accept self published books (most of them, but I haven't found one that will…yet). Like the old sixties song by the Canadian group, Five Man Electrical Band, "The sign says long-haired freaky people, need not apply. So, I tucked hair up under my hat and went and asked them, why?"; I wrote these review websites that same question…none have answered, to date.
Local newspaper is another good place to advertise free - with someone doing an article on you and your book. I've lived most my life in Germany, in or connected to the U.S. military presence. My "local" newspaper is, therefore, The Stars and Stripes. I wrote 'em…no answer. I called 'em…no interest.
Finally, (this is getting a mite long) you can contact book sellers yourself. Again…been in Germany, etc… a huge market for my book would be, The Army and Air Force Exchange System, aka - AAFES or The PX/BX. Every one of these stores has "bookstores". I discovered that AAFES bookstores are "fed", distributed to by a company that won't accept books from a self-publisher nor the 'real' publisher of my book - Createspace.
And it never seems to end….lol.
Oh, wait….one more example. I've been a strong contributor to Storymash.com for about three years. I thought it would be cool if SM would put a page that highlighted the successes of some of the writers around here. I sent a proposal to the owner of SM and he was enthusiastic about the idea but…to date…nothing has happened. It's been over two months.
You may think that I'm ready to throw in the towel. You might think that I'm warning everyone away from self-publishing. Neither is the case. I still think it's the way to go and sooner or later I'm going to crack this marketing, promotion and distribution nut!
PS: The Second Advent: Disciples - is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de as a paperback and e-book. ;o)
You can also visit my website at: http://www.thesecondadvent.com