Self Published Fantasy is Not For the Faint at Heart
“it’s a process that only those with a thick skin and determination will find rewarding. It isn’t a route for those seeking instant fame or huge incomes. ”
By Jesse Nolan Bailey
Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. Well, authoring a book in general isn’t for the faint of heart, and traditionally published authors face their own challenges. But from what I’ve personally experienced, and knowing how this process differs from the trad route, I can honestly say that self-publishing requires a whole lot of patience, determination, humility, and perseverance.
I didn’t really consider or research self-publishing until this past year when I was finishing up The Jealousy of Jalice and preparing to query agents. I went through the pros and cons of trad publishing vs indie publishing, and it was a tough decision to make. Eventually, I decided I wanted to be on my own timeframe of releasing the novel rather than spend months querying with the chance I never got picked up by an agent. So I went the indie route, knowing in an abstract way that I wouldn’t achieve the kind of spotlight and ‘fame’ that a trad backed author would.
Yet, I think the biggest surprise was the expenses of self-publishing. The budget is entirely set by the author, and it is nerve-wracking deciding how to invest in the novel’s presentation and marketing. The consensus I found through articles and fellow author discussions were that the book cover and the manuscript’s editing were high priority. It’s near impossible to successfully market a book that doesn’t have an eye-catching cover, or a book that may have a fun cover but isn’t properly edited. Beyond that, it was tough to decide where to put my money, time, and energy. Anything from editorial reviews to social media ads, from book trailers to book contests, all beckoned. I hate to admit it, but I’m still learning through trial and error which of these help an indie book succeed and have some sort of financial return.
Here is what I can confidently suggest though. A book cover is the first thing a reader sees. Most of the time, the reader is going to make their initial decision of whether they’re interested based on that cover. Then, if they find it alluring, they will turn to the blurb on the back of the book. Those two elements hold the power of whether of a reader will place their trust in the author and purchase a book. Once the reader is hooked and reading the book, it’d better be well-written and finely edited, or else all that hard work of convincing the reader with the cover and the blurb was for naught.
As for marketing, I think for all the money I invested in things like editorial reviews and book contests, they didn’t boost my book nearly as much as the less costly investment of finding book reviewers and doing a book blog tour. Book reviewers help with getting word-of-mouth out about the book, and a book blog tour is an organized way of getting some of those reviews around launch. Book reviewers certainly are the unsung heroes of book marketing, and indie authors would be in a worse place without them. I owe many of my sales to those valiant reviewers.
As a whole, the self-publishing process has been a positive one. I do credit this partly to a nice cover and a good story, as well as the network of blog reviewers and indie advocates across social media. But as I stated at the beginning of this post, it’s a process that only those with a thick skin and determination will find rewarding. It isn’t a route for those seeking instant fame or huge incomes. It’s for those that are confident in the story they’ve written, and trust that their hard work and perseverance will earn them readers that enjoy finding gems amongst the rough.
About the Author
Enthralled by the magic that written stories contain, Jesse Nolan Bailey has always wanted to be an author. With his debut novel finally released to the masses, he can now claim such title with relief. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he has embraced the equally-gratifying lifework of hosting a trio of spoiled cats.