As part of her February blog tour we welcome Sydney author Patty Jansen as a guest blogger. With publishing in a state of flux where everything is changing almost by the minute and as she has just spent a year experimenting with e-publishing we asked Patty to give us her thoughts on self-publishing.
Self-publishing: what does it do for you?
There is little that divides authors so much and generates so much heat in discussions as the subject of self-publishing. Some people declare that self-publishing is cheap, tacky, that they would never do it, and that anything that's good will always find a publisher, providing you keep sending it. The rest of the people? Well, they're too busy checking their Kindle statements.
The time has now come that many authors will have put their little toe in the hot self-publishing waters and many others are considering it. Many, like me, are discovering that there are interesting benefits to having a presence on Amazon and other self-publishing sites.
What can self-publishing do for you? The obvious benefits first.
One of the most obvious uses of self-publishing sites is to keep your old material in print. I don't mean just books, but especially short stories. Whether you've been published in print or online magazines, older issues tend to get buried under newer ones, and after a while, your story becomes less visible. So it makes sense to put the story up in ebook form when the contract runs out.
What about new material? Well, that's up to you. I have a number of longer works up. Why? The first novel I put up was for kids. I chose this book because I love the story, but would not want to be branded a children's writer. The second novel I put up had a small press contract that fell through. I couldn't bear the thought of taking it back to market. The same with the novella Charlotte's Army. This manuscript was far in development when the publisher pulled the project. Then, lastly, I'm publishing a fantasy trilogy. No reason in particular that I'm self-publishing that one, except that it's fun, and that this way, the entire series is actually going to get written (as opposed to only the first book, until it's sold). So, as you see, there are a lot of reasons to self-publish new material. "Because I couldn't sell it" is probably one of the worst reasons, but if that rocks your boat, what's the skin off anyone's nose?
In the last year, I've discovered another advantage of self-published material.
Self-publishing electronically is comparable with putting material up on your blog. Only, when using the power of Amazon, people can find you in a central place where they're actually looking for things to read. You can make your work free. This is easier on Smashwords than Amazon, but possible on both. The people who download free stories are strangers who would never have read your work otherwise. In this way, free stories become your business card. And you hand out thousands of them.
What should you expect sales-wise?
Realistically? Nothing. Free stories usually get a nice number of downloads, but sales are harder. Having more books up helps. Publishing something in a traditional venue helps a lot. Whichever way you publish, making significant money from writing is hard.
I think that for the new writer, self-publishing is a tool and not an end-destination. Which is why the argument of trad-published vs self-published is so stupid. Traditional publishers are not evil. Not all self-published books are crap. Do both and expand your reach.
Patty Jansen lives in Sydney, Australia, where she spends most of her time writing hard SF, space opera and hybrid fantasy. She publishes in both traditional and indie venues. Her story This Peaceful State of War placed first in the second quarter of the Writers of the Future contest and was published in their 27th anthology. Her story Survival in Shade of Orange will be published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact.
Her novels (available at ebook venues) include Watcher's Web (soft SF), The Far Horizon (middle grade SF), Charlotte's Army (military SF) and books 1 and 2 of the Icefire Trilogy Fire & Ice (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005TF1B9K) and Dust & Rain (epic post-apocalyptic steampunk fantasy).
Patty is on Twitter (@pattyjansen), Facebook, LinkedIn, goodreads, LibraryThing, google+ and blogs at: http://pattyjansen.com/
My novels: Watcher’s Web, The Far Horizon and the Icefire Trilogy
Find out more on my author website: http://pattyjansen.com/