It was the announcement of my 40th high school reunion that helped make my decision. Only two weeks earlier, my husband brought home an article in the Wall Street Journal about how authors were experiencing success with self-publishing through Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace. Although I’d had over three dozen of my short stories published (and some made into independent movies), I’d never been successful in finding an agent or publisher for my novels. Although several said they really liked my writing, my story lines did not fit into any of the easier-to-sell genres, such as romance, mystery, science fiction or paranormal. I write about family relationships, often called “women’s fiction”, but it was harder, the agents told me, to break in with women’s fiction. Go write a romance, they said.
Well, I didn’t want to. And so my novels sat on my hard drive, going nowhere. Then my husband brought home that article about self-publishing and the 40th high school reunion announcement arrived. It made me ask myself, had I accomplished everything in life that I wanted? Was I too old to achieve my dream of being published? And if I self-published, what did I have to lose?
A lot of Baby Boomers are asking themselves those questions. They have either written a book, or know they have a book within them, and since self-publishing has become so easy and affordable, why shouldn’t they give it a try? One of the biggest reasons given for NOT self-publishing is that it’s difficult to market and distribute the books on your own. However, there are also many valid reasons to go ahead with self-publishing, such as:
1. You already have a way to market and distribute the books. For example, you plan on marketing directly through your career situation, to your students/clients/customers/workshops, etc.
2. You don’t need mass marketing. Your book is a family history or memoir which is intended for a limited audience only.
3. Maybe you have only a slim book in mind, one that publishers wouldn’t consider without a lot of padding, but which YOU believe is the right amount of information for the reader. Kindle books, especially, sell well when they’re brief informational books on specific topics.
4. Timeliness – for specific reasons, you need to have the book available in a very short time, and you can’t wait the year and a half or two years it might take to find an agent and a publisher.
5. Control – for specific reasons, you want complete control over the final product, over the production period, over the schedule for promotion, forms of publishing, etc. With self-publishing, you can hold ALL the rights to the book.
6. Maybe you’ve attempted traditional publishing and have been unable to find an agent, but you still have faith in the project.
Many Baby-Boomers are deciding that there’s no reason to wait any longer. They’re going ahead in droves, publishing their own how-to books, histories, memoires, humorous, and fact-driven books. They’re writing novels and short stories. They’re finding the joy in creativity that maybe they’ve never before been able to see to fruition.
I can’t tell you how many people, when they hear that I’ve self-published, tell me how they always wanted to write. I tell them, go ahead. Do it now. There’s never been an easier time to pursue that dream.
Since my first self-published novel came out, I’ve also published a second novel (about baby boomers!) and a collection of short stories. I’m working on my fourth book now. I’ve also done book talks at libraries, visited book clubs, and seen my sales grow, month-by-month. Self-promotion is not my favorite part of the job, but I’m learning. Most of the book clubs that select my first book also later select my second novel, so that tells me I’m on the right track. One of the best things about self-publishing is that I work at my own schedule, which allows me time to deal with the rest of my life. I haven’t made millions, and I’m not on any bestsellers list. However, my books are being read and enjoyed. People write to me about them, expressing their feelings about the stories. I get good reviews at Amazon.com and Goodreads.com. I receive a real thrill when some book club invites me to their meeting and eagerly asks questions about my characters, speaking about them as though they were real people.
Self-publishing is not for everyone, and there’s certainly a learning curve if you do go ahead with it. Would I love to have some big publisher ask to sign me? Of course! But I’ve decided that I’m not waiting for that to happen. I’ve gone ahead, taken advantage of the technology available, and have put my dream into motion. It’s a great feeling. And you could do it too.