With imminent publication of the Ninth Victorian Detectives novel, Deceit & Desire, I have now moved into the entirely self-published category. And I been asked once again by several people why I decided not to stay with a commercial publisher.
Here are my reasons:
1. Control: As a self-published author, I have a lot of autonomy. I can do whatever I like, publicity-wise, and if you follow me on Twitter (@carolJhedges) you will know that I do. I had very little autonomy with Usborne and OUP and I gather that some big publishing houses like to keep a close eye on their writers so they don't run amok on social media, which could rebound back on them. Also I gather that many houses prefer writers to promote other writers on their list (possibly why I rarely get promoted by Choc Lit writers, lovely though they are).
2. Choice: I chose the wonderful Gina Dickerson ( @ ) of RoseWolf Design to come up with my new covers. They are certainly quirky and different ... just like the stories .. and, dare I say it, like the author of the stories herself! When I was mainstream published, I had to accept whatever their in-house cover people produced whether I bought into the concept or not.
Also, I can choose and change the key words that help readers locate my books, and I can fiddle around with Amazon's book categories, if I want to. As I am an inveterate fiddler, I do.
3. Cash: As a commercially published writer of adult fiction I was getting 40% of all ebook sales, far less on printed books. As a published children's writer that dropped to 12% of all book sales. And my then agent creamed off 10% on top of that. As Little G Books (my publishing imprint), I can command 70% of ebook sales. The difference in my monthly income figures has been remarkable.
Ok, I know it is all too easy nowadays to write a book, cobble together a cover and upload the finished product to Amazon. Advances in technology have opened up enormous opportunities for self-publishing that were never there when I started writing books, and that is a good thing.
I also acknowledge that inevitably, there is a lot of dross out there and it lets the side down. Poorly written and produced books with typos, badly designed covers, sold at rock bottom prices or given away for free, which is not the way I want to go.
However, despite the many ''Hey, I produced a book for virtually nothing'' blogs, the writers of the best self-published books have usually used beta readers, then paid out for professional editing, proofreading and cover designing. It is hard work at every stage, and having done it nine times now, I can attest to the pain.
But in a world where celebs are sneaking all the good publishing deals, and agents are less and less able to place books, if you can get an agent in the first place, I still think that going solo, if you can, is the best and most lucrative way of presenting your work to the reading public. And there is HUGE satisfaction from holding a book in your hand, or seeing it in a shop, and knowing that you produced yourself.