(*Note: This was written before ebooks had taken off, so it’s aimed more at print vanity publishing. I think it’s still worth keeping up, however, because it can offer some food for thought)
I started tinkering with The Oak Clan when I was fifteen and finally finished it ten years later. So it’s my baby – my passion. Nothing I write will ever be as important, the closest thing being the essay that put my wife into a comic book.
In 2002, I thought I’d edited it pretty well and whenever I Googled “publish,” I got self-publishing websites. They were pretty convincing that it was the way to go, so I went for it. Unfortunately at the time, I didn’t know any other writers or the like to tell me what a mistake I was making.
After a year and a half, The Internet Book Company went under. So I looked around and fell for the lie once again. I published it through Authorhouse in 2004. I pushed it hard for a year and in the process, made some good friends in the business. One of them recommended I join him at the World Horror Convention, which is where I received a fantastic education on the publishing world.
I also learned why self-publishing is such a bad deal. When you go this route with your work, you eliminate the opportunity to go through the proper channels. You need those rejections from submitting over and over. You need the constructive criticism to help grow as a writer. You need to learn through many rewrites until your work is accepted. As perfect as I’d thought Oak Clan was back then, I look at it now and see all kinds of issues.
Furthermore, once a book has been self-published, no legitimate publisher (as in one that pays you), will take your work seriously. It raises too many red flags. The work is automatically lumped together with all the countless unedited pieces of crap out there. It will be assumed that you, like others, just stuck your first draft in book form.
Also, most publishers want to release previously unpublished work. If you self-publish, you kill your chances of getting that book the attention it deserves.
So take your time. It’s worth the trouble. The Oak Clan did well, despite all that. Most self-published books are lucky to sell 100 in a year. During the year that the last release was available, it sold nearly 1,000. Of course, that was due to all the pushing I did.
Now, this book has two things keeping it from being published again.
One: It’s previously published material.
Two: It’s nearly 500 pages long!
Is it doomed? No. I had actually met S.D. Hintz because of his interest in Oak Clan. It is being re-edited and revised for release via Skullvines Press, and it’s new title will be Fear the Woods. Once the first book is out there again, it will continue with the sequels.
Now, if I had just been patient and pushed it properly, I would have still run into S.D. and it might be introduced in its better form for the first time instead of having the previous editions cluttering its history.
So folks, don’t get in such a big rush to be published. If you’re having trouble finding a home for your book, consider the possibility that it’s not ready yet. Go to writing workshops and literary groups. Listen. Don’t take criticism as personal attacks. Pay attention, and don’t turn into a literary nitwit.
Using the baby metaphor… when a woman becomes pregnant, I imagine she’s awfully anxious to get it over with so she can hold that newborn in her arms. But isn’t it worth waiting the nine months to allow it to develop?
The only exceptions I can think of for self-publishing is if you’re working on something that’s time sensitive to current events, a family tree or recipe book, or just something you want printed for yourself with no need for success. There are also those who are already experienced enough in editing and formatting to do it themselves, or they’re established authors putting out their previously published titles.