Many people ask why I would want to self-publish when I’ve had a successful career in traditional publishing. The answer: money and control.
Let’s start with the money. Back in January 2011, I was struggling with the college debt my children had incurred over the previous five years. Several “glitches” prevented readers from finding my latest traditionally published book in the stores. At that time, Borders was in the process of closing down, lessening the number of avenues for print sales. I knew I needed to find a way to revitalize my career, so I took a look at my backlist.
I’d been savvy enough to ask for the rights to my books when they went out of print. At the time, I didn’t know what I would do with them but I’d hoped to sell them to another publisher eventually. That didn’t happen—publishers weren’t interested in backlist titles in a world of diminishing shelf space. In the end, I decided to self-publish the books.
I had minimal sales the first three months. I was busy trying to get the older books scanned, proofed and their covers designed—an overwhelming amount of work—so I wasn’t doing anything to support the self-published books. But, suddenly, things began to change: My book, Summer Secrets, took off through B&N’s PubIt! Platform. Then Kindle readers started to find the book, and my numbers climbed at Amazon. By July, Summer Secrets hit #1 on Amazon and The New York Times.
I was soon to discover this was just the beginning.
Ten of my other self-published titles hit the USA Today and the NY Times Bestseller Lists over the next year. I also started publishing ebook originals, including a new series called The Wish Series, which includes A Secret Wish, Just a Wish Away and When Wishes Collide (coming out September 2012). In less than two years, I have sold over 2.6 million self-published ebooks, a number that still boggles my mind.
But it’s not just about money, it’s also about control. I love directing my career, choosing which stories I want to write and not worrying about whether those stories fit into the designated “niche” of a publishing house or a retail chain. I also love being able to cover the books with art that maintains my brand. I’m able to put books out as frequently as I can, which keeps my readers happy. They no longer have to wait a year for my next book.
The other aspect of self-publishing I really enjoy is working directly with the book retailers. I have received amazing support from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Apple, Google, Smashwords and Overdrive. I have found all the booksellers to be terrific partners and very supportive of Indie publishers.
Self-publishing isn’t for everyone. It’s a great deal of work that requires a broader skill set. And, like traditional publishing, not every writer will see instant success. But writers who like the business part of publishing will enjoy having the opportunity to sell their own books.
In my opinion, this is a wonderful time to be a writer. There are many publishing options, and authors now have a chance to choose their own path.
Barbara Freethy is the No. 1 New York Times Bestselling author of 30 novels ranging from contemporary romance to women’s fiction and romantic suspense. Her books have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, and she is a five-time RITA finalist from Romance Writers of America for best contemporary romance. In 2011, she began self-publishing and has since sold over 2.6 million ebooks. For more information, visit Barbara’s website at barbarafreethy.com.