I was lucky enough to have Destiny Allison write a guest post for Downright Dystopian! Destiny Allison is the author of the dystopian book Pipe Dreams.
Thanks for inviting me Krystianna. You asked me why I chose to self-publish and that’s a really big question. Right off, I’ll start by saying self-publishing isn’t for everyone and I’m not always sure it’s right for me. Some days, I find myself a bit envious when a friend lands a traditional contract. I imagine the ease of distribution, the knowledge that the editors are pros, and the comfort of having an experienced team make the decisions. After all, what do I know about publishing?
Then reason rears its quiet head and says, “What are you? Nuts?” I shake my head and sigh. Then I get to work. Let’s be clear. We’re talking a lot of work. Still, the potential for reward is better as an indie author than it is anywhere else. My decision was pure business. I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my life and have built several successful businesses. There are lots of things I’m not good at and I know it so I’ve learned to hire help. That’s what makes me a good fit for self-publishing.
Here are the realities:
Most books, even those traditionally published, fail.
Most books, even those edited by traditional houses, have mistakes.
Most authors, even those traditionally published, don’t make a living from their books.
But, these days,
Indies have a better
shot at success than anyone. Here’s why. Most traditional presses require the
author to do most of the marketing anyway. If these authors don’t do a good
job, or it rains, or the clouds really are made of cotton candy, and the books
don’t sell well in the first six weeks, their done. They’ll go out of print and
never be seen again. Six weeks isn’t a very long time for a book to find its
audience. Couple that with dismal royalty rates, total lack of creative
control, and contracts that require the author to give up the rights to their
books until 70 years past their death, and its no wonder I chose to
self-publish. In addition, the odds of landing a contract are really slim even
if the book is excellent. By self publishing, I can ensure my books find their
audience. I keep approximately 70% of the sales, I own all my rights, and I
maintain control over my cover and content.
Shaping Destiny is the first book I published. I wrote it ten years ago. Back then, self-publishing wasn’t an option so I did the work and sent out dozens of queries. Without exception, everyone I sent it to loved the book. They also told me it couldn’t be marketed unless I broke it apart and made two books out of it. I refused. The form Shaping Destiny took was intrinsic to the meaning I hoped to impart. So I shelved it. When the indie revolution got off the ground, I decided to go for it. I knew the book wouldn’t be for everyone and had no great expectations about it being a best seller. My goal was to change a few lives for the better. As it turns out, readers LOVE the form. Overwhelmingly, the lessons the publishers wanted me to take out are one of their favorite components. It’s changed many lives and continues to sell to an audience much larger than I anticipated. It also just took 1st place for non-fiction/memoir in the 2013 Global Book Contest.
Pipe Dreams is another story. It is a dystopian novel I never intended to write. It just happened and I had to go with it. It’s been so exciting to work in this genre and to stretch my wings. However, it is competing with hundreds of thousands of books and it is the kind of book that has mass appeal. This time the decision was harder and I really wasn’t sure that I’m the right person to manage its production and distribution. In the end, looking at the numbers and the fact that the traditional publishing industry is completely upside down right now, I decided to self-publish again. I hired a really good editor, an excellent cover designer, and put it out. It, too, is finding its market.
One of the things that really scared me about self-publishing Pipe Dreams is my lack of access to bookstores via conventional distribution channels. As it happens, that just changed. One of the largest book distributors just did away with the hurdles indie authors face. Now, bookstores can get the same terms for Print on Demand books that they are accustomed to getting for print runs. That has the potential to change everything. I still have to convince stores to carry me, but now they can.
If you’re thinking about self publishing, there are some things you need to do. 1st, and perhaps most important, know yourself. If you don’t like marketing, hate social media, and get tongue tied every time someone asks you about your book, it’s probably not for you. Then, if you still want to go ahead, research the industry. Know what’s happening daily. Things are changing that fast. While new opportunities arise, others are disappearing and what worked for one may not work for you. You’ll have to put as much creative energy behind marketing your book as you did creating it. Finally, know that there will be a financial investment. If you don’t put money out to hire editors and cover designers, your book will definitely fail. The investment doesn’t guarantee it won’t, but it improves your odds substantially.
Being an indie author is being a business. You have to put your ego on the back burner and realize that after the product is created, it’s all about the readers’ experience. If their experience with your book is good, they’ll likely recommend it and buy your next one.
More about Destiny Allison's book:
Beneath the park bench, a young girl cries for help, her voice a cold hand on Vanessa's throat. The naked girl is desperate, but compassion for the Fallen is never forgiven. In a moment of hesitation, Vanessa sets in motion a chain of events that will determine mankind's fate.
Unbeknownst to her, Lewis is still haunted by her thick, auburn hair, serious eyes, and mocking laughter. She is the symbol of all he hates and her interaction with the girl is what he needs to gain control of the virus. As his plan unfolds, Vanessa is forced to flee. Escaping through the sewer, she finds love, heartbreak, and the red beam of a gun sight dancing on the slick, black wall. In the deep dark of the foul pipe, she also discovers she has been betrayed. That's when she learns Texas is real.
Pipe Dreams is a dystopian novel set in the near future. If gene splicing could merge Margaret Atwood and Suzanne Collins, the resulting author might write this book.
Thanks so much Destiny! :)