Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why independent/self-publishing?

(This post is part of an indie publishing blog carnival hosted by Chris Kelly at Dun Scaith. Click here to view the other blogs in the carnival!)

I foolishly indicated that I would post a limerick to sum up why I choose to self publish. Here goes:

I was asked by a lad, “Why self-publish?”
“Is it because your work is all rubbish?”
“Perhaps,” I said.
While patting his head.
“Now give me some sauce for my fried fish.”

Thank you. I wrote that in forty-five seconds and I would like to submit it as my entry for worst limerick of all time.

I’m joking.

It actually took me four days. And I don’t eat fried fish. And I will cry like a baby if you don’t tell me you love it. I’m talking dripping snot and heaving here, people. I need validation!!! If you don’t like it, I’ll rewrite it again and again and again until you love it!!!

Wait a minute. On second thought, I won’t rewrite my crappy limerick. I also don’t need the validation, but I’ll get to that.

I have enjoyed many of Stephen King’s works. He is one of the biggest success stories of genre fiction based on fame and money. At this point in his life, he could write a 25 word manuscript on a napkin and get paid handsomely for it.

King is one of the old-school, hardcore writers who will tell you that an aspiring writer needs to receive enough rejection slips to wallpaper an entire room before he or she is ready to have something appear in print.

Is he right?

It’s possible. Reason dictates that the more you practice something, the better you become.

If you’re writing solely to land a publishing contract and get some modest advance money, then Spooky Steve’s words are probably true. Keep on cranking out stories until you find out what the masses will pay for on a regular basis. Then lather, rinse, repeat.

This soul-sucking, alarmingly masochistic method is not for everyone.

Take me, for example. I have a full-time career outside of writing and a family I enjoy spending time with. Two kiddos tackle me when I walk in the door and want to play until bedtime. After the munchkins are in bed, my wife and I spend as much time together as we can. On the weekends, we do family stuff. If you ask me to describe myself, the words “husband” and “father” will pop up way before the word “writer.”

Still, I have stories I want to tell.

Scratch that.

I have stories I NEED to tell.

If I go by Steve’s write till you bleed method with my limited writing time, I might be “ready” for publication by the time I’m 80.

For me, self-publishing is an alternative. I don’t expect to be able to retire to Maui from my self-publishing profits, but I am finding readers who enjoy what I have written. I am building an audience as I build worlds in my fiction. With every Kindle, Smashwords, B&N, or print Amazon sale, there is one more person who will also pick up my next book and tell their friends about it.

There are plenty of people who consider self-publishing to be a blight on the literary world. These days, it seems everyone believes that a writer must undergo a painful metamorphosis that sees them becoming a hideous amalgamation of Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer in an attempt to appeal to an agent who will shower them with contracts and cash.

How exciting.

I think I’ll pass.

Going indie is not a sure-fire path to riches and fame. If that’s all you’re after, you might want to audition for a job as a rock star. I think the odds are better.

If you’re smart, willing to work your ass completely off (I’m talking nothing left but bones), and have a ton of talent, you can do well with self-publishing.

Former house-published author J.A. Konrath made waves in independent publishing before partnering with Amazon. Zoe Winters and Kait Nolan have both sold far in excess (thousands, in fact) of that magical 150 book number that naysayers consider the drop dead point for self-published works (see the hilarious Zoe Who? videos for details). If Zoe and Kait wallpapered their respective utility rooms with rejections from publishing companies, would they eventually find a traditional publisher? Of course, but I doubt I would have had the opportunity to read their self-published stories that I have enjoyed. And that would be a shame.

Are there some crappy/sub-par self-published works out there? Absolutely. Some readers might lump my writing into that category, and that’s okay. I could probably tweak story elements and water down the language and violence to grab a wider audience or crank up the sex and go full-on erotica and garner still more readers from that genre. Maybe if I did those things and rewrote the story a few hundred times for submission to publishers, I might find one who is willing to give me a shot after I collect my own stack of wallpaper.


This is the sound of me not giving a shit:


I don’t write my stories with the intention of putting dollar signs in the eyes of an editorial assistant. I write for the guy who is tired of seeing monsters treated with kid gloves. I write for the woman who gets pissed off that the heroine needs a big strapping hero to save the day for her. More than anything, I write for myself.

I write what I want. I publish when I want. I answer to no one but myself. I market myself and my books to the extent that I choose. That’s what self-publishing truly means to me: the freedom to succeed or fail with no one else to blame or congratulate but myself.

My book, Lucifera’s Pet, is a violent and sexy dark fiction tale of werewolves and vampires. If shiny, abstenant vampires make you vaguely uneasy, connect with me below:

Smashwords (Free eBooks):


  1. Great post! And trad publishing advice often IS alarmingly masochistic.

    I LOVE Lucifera's Pet. I think you're a great writer!

  2. Thanks, Zoe! Back at you!

    You already know this, but the interesting thing about traditional publishing "advice" is that people who have nothing to do with publishing will still try and steer you towards the big publishers. Hopefully we can change that mindset.

  3. Well said!

    And that Zoe person gets everywhere before I do! Do you never sleep, Zoe? :)

  4. That 150 point is so attainable and surpassable, it isn't even funny. Mostly thanks to the likes of Kindle and Smashwords. And of course the growing ranks of kick ass indies. :D

    Love your blog's name btw, Werewolves are my favourite flavour of bad. And I've had Lucifera's pet on my ereader for ages now, I'm going to have to hurry up on it!

  5. Hilarious post. Love your swagger, M.T.

  6. Having just finished a book I now stare at the daunting task of publishing and which way to go. Yes I'm sure in alot of wild dreams I could see myself getting picked by publishing companies and whatnot, but that isn't what I want and I'm not willing to sell the rights for something I've poured my blood, sweat and tears into for some time to some publishing company that will never understand the heart of the story the way I do.

    I love your insight Mike, as well as your writing, but you already know this. Thank you yet again for being an inspiration to me through this process. <3

  7. I like how your limerick was an introduction to the rest of the post :P (it's a nice limerick / I once spent one month editing a poem of 5 couplets: "Slates of Grey").

    I like writing for myself too. It's my personal way of keeping it real, and if that's not okay with naysayers/whoever, I ain't forcing anyone to read/buy my sh*t...LOL.

  8. Thanks, Levi. I'm beginning to think that Zoe is actually a team of people with a common goal. You know. Kind of like Stephen King. He is actually four guys from upstate NY. True story.

    C, I am hoping that Smashwords continues to grow like crazy. With no e-reader that will handle all types, they are still a one-stop shop for whatever device people have. Hope you enjoy Lucifera's Pet. I'd love to hear what you think.

    Thanks, Moses. The answer to the unspoken question is yes, I do use Old Spice body wash.

    S.D., I am very glad you are going the indie route. If I can help in any way, just say the word. I'm almost done with your beta read and I cannot wait to see the finished product!

    Jess, believe it or not, I have sold the rights to that limerick to Universal Studios. They are adapting it into a major motion picture! Yeah! Don't be fooled when you see the title. I think they are going to call it M. Night Shyamalon's "Devil" or some nonsense.

    I was going to read a little of your 35 page plan last night and ended up reading the whole thing. Excellent work. I'll post a review in the next day or two.