This article brought to you today by a “I’m not feeling well” moment.
I’m lying in bed, using the laptop I haven’t touched in half a year. My work laptop to be clear. Our remote setup allows me to use my regular home system when I log into the lab through some magical VPN and browser tricks, which I love. I can run my work VM in Chrome, while the rest of my computer sits “off domain” and secure. But I wasn’t going to lug my desktop and huge monitor upstairs, so here we are, getting reacquainted with an old friend (and it’s rubbery keyboard… I already miss my mechanical keyboard).
The last couple of days I’ve been exhausted. Bit of a cold I think, I’m just run down and feeling blah in the head, congested and a little dizzy. No, not the other thing (I’m pretty sure at least). I’ve been extremely cautious and have rarely ventured out except for grocery shopping.
It’s been a long time coming and I’ve put off a decision for the last year plus, but I’m now in the early stages of planning to self-publishing Shadow of a Doubt. I’d given querying a rough time frame and a large but unspecified limit on the number of agent queries I would send. The last of those have come in, along with the rejection from the final publisher who had open submissions. The one publisher who seemed deeply interested eventually turned it away because they weren’t sure how to market it and worried it wouldn’t build the audience it deserved (both a pleasing thing to hear, and yet damnably irritating at the same time given no other potential suitors).
That leaves me pondering the difficulties of self-publishing. I dipped my toes in those waters ten years ago, writing some romance and erotica stories and publishing them under pen names. It was, at the time, more of the way of testing what was possible in the brave new world of self-authorship than expecting to accomplish much (though I did, for a while, derive a steady income in the several hundreds of dollars a month from the works). But the writing wasn’t the quality I’ve come to expect from myself since, and I wasn’t trying terrible hard to market the stories. It felt like I had to churn out new works all the time to get anywhere. When I decided to turn to the fantasy and science fiction I most longed to write, I put all that aside and focused on improving my craft rather than worrying about sales. I placed an emphasis on short story markets and finding an agent for future novels, not self-publishing.
There’s a lot of work in self-publishing. I already work a full-time job, and do some volunteering for SFWA. To add to that load the rigors of finding and working with an editor, creating a nice cover, building a mailing list, researching what marketing tools work best and executing a marketing plan, purchasing an ISBN, finding reviewers to promote it, designing the book itself… it’s a little daunting (not to mention expensive). I know enough about self-publishing to be able to approach it with eyes wide open and believe I can handle the work. I feel confident the novel is good, and I don’t think I want to wait until the day another novel finally attracts an agent and they ask “what else do you have in your trunk?” I can’t even rely on them being interested in it at that point. They may still take a pass on it.
I’ve stirred the publishing pot by reaching out to the folks who had previously shown interest. That was two years ago; I’m hoping their situation has changed enough that they think they could run with it. But I expect either a polite “no,” or no response at all (another way of politely saying “no.”). I’m also looking at small presses I may have missed and have submitted to one of those. In the end, though, I’m planning for both answer to be no.
That’s fine, I understand, business decisions are what they are. I tend to be pretty sanguine about the business side of things. At that point… I guess I’m going into publishing for myself. Trollbreath will become more than my personal website. It will become the first branch of a massive corporate entity that will sweep through the SFF world, taking it by storm! We will stand upon the world like a mountain, our spear of destiny thrust through the corpse of the entertainment mouse who once roared!!! Mwa ha ha ha hahaha!!!
Ah… shit…. did I say that out loud? I need to remind myself not to repeat the evil part of my plans out loud. My bad.
Keep your eyes out for more news about this over the next few weeks and months. I’ve got a lot more thinking to do, then a bunch of work to get it ready. It’s not going to happen fast, and I’m already thinking about a target date for launch around this time next year. I’ve waited this long (8 years since I finished the first draft, and 6 since the re-write that brought it close to its current finished form), what’s another 12 months, give or take?