What to do, what to do. The book is with my agent and a few beta readers, and in the meantime I’m trying to figure out how or whether to publish it. I’ve been wading through the pros and cons of traditionally publishing versus self-publishing versus reaching out to a small indie press. This is a new genre for me and I’ve never written a series, so it’s hard to know.
If I had a bigger budget, it would be a no-brainer. There are wonderful cover designers and freelance editors available to indie authors now, and you can buy ads and build up mailing lists for marketing. It’s a ton of extra work beyond the actual writing, but all that time and investment would buy me creative control of the story and the covers, which is huge. And I don’t mind the work. I love to learn and try new things. But I’m also unemployed and need to be careful of the family funds.
I’ve thought about doing a silent launch for the first book. I’d invest in a really beautiful cover and put it up free on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited with an inexpensive paperback option. I’ve seen other authors do this. The idea is to get some feedback and reviews on the first book, more on the down-low, then build the series as it goes along. If the first book makes a few bucks on KU, that would help with the publication of the next book, and when the series is finished I could take it wide on IngramSpark or some other platform. Of course the Amazon algorithms would sink that first book almost immediately, but each subsequent novel in the series gives you something new to sell and build upon, so it’s a long-game strategy rather than a quick-release sort of thing.
I did love working with my editor at MIRA, though. And traditional publishing would mean money (though probably not much) coming in rather than going out. The cover expenses and editing are paid for by the publishing house, so there’d be no initial outlay for me beyond whatever I choose to do in the way of marketing. All of that is assuming someone wants to buy it, and even if they do, it would mean a very long wait. The publisher can also drop you mid-series, before the story is complete, which would obviously suck. You can’t release the books as they’re ready, and they can get jammed up in the publishing cogs and never come out at all. So it’s a risk.
Even with a small press you’re giving up control. That’s the hard part for me. I think this story world has potential and would lend itself to spin-offs and short pieces of fiction to use as giveaways, and I have very specific ideas about cover design and the arc of the series. These books are not lit-ra-choor, but they’re fun and I think they fit their genre, and because the characters can travel through infinite alternate realities, there might even be a choose-your-own-adventure aspect to get readers engaged.
It’s hard to know what’s best. Part of me is tired of trying to Do Something and would really just like to tell stories around the campfire to the dozen or so people who want to hear them. So maybe the thing to do is take aspiration out of the equation and write my stories the way I want and stop trying to be so goddamn precious and pseudo-professional about it. It’s okay to do that with other forms of art, so why are writers so squeamish? Are we afraid of being laughed at? Are we afraid other people will say we can’t Do Something better with our work? A musician can simply make music. A painter can paint. No one asks if they’ve sold their work and for how much. They just do their thing.
I think I know what I want. But I don’t know if I know what I want, and that’s the kicker.
What do you want?