Though it was one of my less popular update blogs, the previous part of this year’s saga—realizing I may have lost first publication rights by releasing fiction for free here on my site—is the beginning place for this next step forward.
Like many, I have been attempting to move forward and find a “Why,” or “Purpose Statement,” or any other form of guiding principle that might help me make decisions. Interestingly, the while Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why establishes the importance and impact that figuring out “why we do the things we do,” it’s not a great resource on actually finding or developing such a life principle. In an unlikely turn of events, it was actually a business/athletic performance book aptly titled Peak Performance where I was given a useful exercise that help me form what they called a purpose statement, which functions more or less like a “why.”
But while having a Why or a purpose statement helps clarify parts of your life and decision making process it’s not especially motivational on its own. At least, not unless you’ve just finished reading Sinek’s book. Instead I was left disjointed where I had read Start with Why four years ago, and Peak Performance a weeks ago. What really motivated me was the disastrous realization that I laid out last time. To put it briefly, that my dreams of publishing one specific novel might have accidentally gone up in smoke for no reason other than I had released the work on this site for free.
As of right now, I’m slightly reassured by the fact that some publishers don’t count website releases as proper publishing. But it really forced me to consider other options. When I started my author journey in 2017, we were still on the edge of self-publishing being a sort of last ditch effort or a lazier approach compared to traditional publishing. Now, especially since Amazon is pushing its own self-publishing services and is the largest book retailer that I’m aware of, the perspective of readers have changed. Business writers as well are skipping the traditionally published route and self-publishing in many cases. Due to this landscape shift, I have changed my opinion of self-publishing. It has become a valid option for me, and in some cases due to the whole first publishing rights fiasco, it might be my only choice for these earlier novels.
To those wondering which I prefer, to be honest, I still think that it is a mark of achievement in some sense to be traditionally published. At the same time, some of my works might benefit more from the freedom afforded by self-publishing. So I have two outlooks on this. The first is self-publishing is extremely full. Everybody is pushing out manuscripts of all sorts of qualities and degrees of editing on to Amazon, and it’s a little bit of a mess. The second is that it turns out that the two benefits of traditionally publishing that most people are concerned about, that is advances and being in bookstores aren’t really that compelling. They used to be compelling, but now it turns out that due to online bookselling, most traditionally published books are never put in bookstores because it’s just not worth the publisher going out of their way unless you’re a bestseller. As for advances, well, they are usually paid out over a long period of time, meaning unless you’ve got around seven or more books on the market, you’re not making a full time income based on advances, or even royalties. Plus, everybody knows that self-publishing margins are typically a lot larger since you’re not sharing it with a publishing company in editor and perhaps even in agent.
With this new research I found that self-publishing might be a really good idea. And I have a little strategy to avoid the stigma of having my publisher being branded Amazon Createspace, or even worse, my own name. Having your own name could bad, because the publisher being the same as the author means that there might have never been a second pair of eyes to survey the manuscript for issues, mistakes, and or plot holes. What is that cheeky little strategy, you might ask? Well, it’s simply incorporating. I started a federal business in Canada registered under my name that I can use to published works. It can also be as a legal liability container for any other sorts of personal projects and products I might come up with in the future—and I’ve definitely got a few ideas as far as that goes.
Since then and over the last month or so, I’ve been learning book marketing. Marketing in general, and I’ve even gotten a course on self-publishing from Udemy, which is very short but is already giving me all sorts of value and confidence and most importantly knowledge of what I’m actually supposed to be doing here.
Now, I’m aware that this update didn’t have a whole lot of substance. It really is more of a transition and a statement of success of process rather than outcome. But I want to say I’m in a much better place. This blog is doing a little bit better now that I’ve focused on content that readers will find useful, rather than simply fiction, which people tend not to go to websites for in the first place. Now that my best works are hidden away and will soon be published in book form, I feel that. The locations where I put certain forms of valuable content is now more selective and the benefit of that seems to be that in some small way, value my own work a little bit better.
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