Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 New Year's Resolutions...and Debacles



Although I don't post about it, I usually try to set a few New Year's resolutions every year, and it's interesting to look back and think about the accomplishments, the debacles...and what wasn't accomplished sometimes. The main reason why I don't post New Year's resolutions at the end of the year is because I'm never really sure if I'll follow through. And I hate feeling obligated that way, especially to myself.

But last year around this time I made a resolution to do one thing: self-publish. For me, especially coming from old publishing, you have to understand that self-publishing anything was almost terrifying. I've always loved and depended on publishers, editors, and the entire process of publishing. And to make that kind of a change was daunting at best.

And yet as much as I love working with publishers, I needed to see what it was like to feel complete control over what I was putting out there. That might sound silly to some people, but I've always been easy to work with and I've never made waves, so to speak. And there have been times when I've said yes to things, and done things, I didn't really want to do just to keep other people happy. There's nothing wrong with that. And I don't have any huge regrets.

But I have agreed to things that weren't always great for me, and I did them anyway, knowing how the end result would turn out: debacle. I did it to be polite and to keep other people happy. Last year I agreed with a publisher to collaborate with another author with a two novella anthology book type of thing. It wasn't a bad experience, so don't get me wrong. The publisher meant no harm at all. I loved the other author and I loved working with him. However, this other author writes markedly different fiction than I write, and it was a huge mistake from the start. And I knew this. He has a different style and readership than I have and each novella would have done well on its own. But the combination was volatile, and so unlikely even I had trouble believing I'd agreed to do it.  

I've also learned it's just plain stupid for an author like me, who has over 100 works published in basically the same genre, to write in that genre with a pen name. This was another publisher suggestion I won't go into detail about. But I blame myself for that one, too. I knew better and yet I still did it. The end result produced two books I loved writing that sold basically nothing because I didn't feel comfortable with the pen names and did nothing at all to promote the books.

Self-publishing gave me confidence again after those two dumb mistakes that happened simultaneously last year. And I needed to know if I could do it alone. And I mean alone...without a self-publishing service, or a literary agent's e-publishing services, or anything else that might take some of the control away from me. The one thing I've learned is that authors are, and should always be, in control of their own careers. I'm working on saying no a lot more these days.

I wish I could say that I was inspired by Joe Konrath, or some other self-publishing blogger, but that just wasn't the case for me. For me it was all about personal empowerment as an author...and to give my readership more of what they wanted at a reasonable price. This is why all my self-pubbed books are still .99.

So I jumped into self-publishing early last year, fulfilled all my contractual obligations while doing it, and wound up self-publishing more than I thought I would. (I also had those two full length m/m romance novels released with pen names I've never even mentioned on this blog, so it's been a busy year.)

But it was worth it.

"Chase of Lifetime" was the first release.

"Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street" was second.

"Chase of a Dream" came after that.

"A Sign From Heaven Above" was the most recent.

And it's been a fabulous, stressful, sometimes frustrating experience, and that's to say the least. By the time I was ready to release "Chase of a Dream" I even decided to design, execute, and create my own cover. It's not that there was anything wrong with the cover artist I hired for "Chase of a Lifetime." In fact, CoaL is my all time favorite book cover to date. I just wanted to see if I could do it. And though it wasn't easy, that also turned out to be a great experience as well.

For anyone else interested in self-publishing, I found the biggest challenge...and still is the biggest challenge...is that I'm dealing with all the business aspects on my own now. In other words, if there's a problem on ARe, they contact me, not my publisher. And then I have to figure out how to fix an issue like dealing with .lit (Microsoft e-reader). But I've found that self-publishing is a lot like driving in New York. If you're standing on the street watching the traffic, it looks impossible...and terrifying. But once you're actually driving in New York, it's not all that bad and you get used to it.

I do have a few new career plans for the coming year, but I'd rather wait until I'm absolutely certain before I announce anything. But like self-publishing, one is something I've always wanted to do, I think readers are going to embrace it, and I hope it provides an opportunity for authors as well.  The other is to indie pub something I've always wanted to do without being afraid to do it.

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