With the upsurge of e-readers, there has been an accompanying growth in the impulse to self-publish. I really have no problems with self-publishing. If I had any out-of-print titles, I’d probably put them for sale online.
A lot of people love their direct, author-to-reader book sales. J. A. Konrath is one of the more fervent proponents, and if you’re interested, you should by all means read his blog. I’m not about to argue with what is clearly working fine for him and a lot of others. But at the same time, I sit looking at my own copy edit for Pirate King—
—and I wonder, How on earth I would do that on my own?
It takes me just about a year to finish a book. The last couple of years, I have put a whole lot of online work on top of writing, in the promotion/celebrations of the Russell stories for 2009 and 2010. It was fun, but left me with absolutely no slack time. If I were writing and selling online, wouldn’t it be like running my own miniature publishing house? I would have to summon a critical eye—for my own prose, which is tough. I would have to hone my skills in grammar, punctuation, and double-checking information—no more passing over the positions of a period in relation to a parenthesis because somebody will catch it if it’s wrong, no more trusting that 1910 is right because that’s how I remember reading it. I would have to come up with a really professional cover because 75% of book buyers admit they judge a book by its cover. I would have to figure how to format the book for the growing number of e-readers, and wrestle with any non-print matter such as maps and illustrations, which some e-readers balk at. I would have to decide whether to trust that people are going to find the story and read it, or whether I should spend a whole lot of hours promoting the story (subtly, since nobody likes a pushy salesman) on Facebook and Goodreads and in blogs and wherever else I can think of.
Or I could pay people to do these things: freelance editor, artist, tech support, publicist. And maybe a housekeeper because I’m going to find it difficult to perform three full-time jobs: human being; publishing house; and writer.
Oh yeah, writer.
I need a dozen weeks to write a first draft, another fifteen or twenty for the rewrite. I often have some other project going as well—short stories, Edgars judging, editing an anthology. If I were only able to write a polished first draft and free up half a year, I might have time to run my own publishing industry.
Or, I could write a second book.
Which do you suppose I would choose?