For his Vampire month blog post, Jason has decided to post about his reasons for choosing self publication as his method of getting his work out there…
“You’re Only Given One Shot…”
Thanks for having me on! I think your readers might enjoy a quick recap of how I got to where I am. Sick and tired of condescending rejection letters, I decided to self-publish. It amazed me how rude agents thought they could be toward me and how offended they got when I’d reply with similar tact. I was just tired of the mess and sick of eating crow from my family.
So I started looking for a good self-publishing house. Step one, as you will find, is not getting scammed. I looked around for a place that let me keep the copyright and had good prices. I found Lulu and was happy with them at first. But then their customer service was kidnapped by Somali pirates or something. With the new management traipsing about, “fixing” everything that made the service remotely usable, I left. Finally my wife found Createspace and we were back in business.
So now I had 25 copies and a $100 hole in my wallet. Since my family had bought most of my previous orders I knew I’d have to find real fans now. And so began the legwork. I hit every shop and book store I could find knowing full well that most of them weren’t going to give me shelf space. I didn’t even bother with big chain stores: they only stock stuff corporate sends them.
I hit used book stores, coffee shops, local produce shops, campus newsstands…any place that looked like they might carry pages with ink on them. After talking to dozens of places I finally got two stores interested. One of them was so snooty I finally gave up dealing with them, the other still orders books from time to time.
So I had venues selling my wares! I was in! I felt like the big dog! I WAS the big dog! I made the front page of the paper (narrowly beating out a story about a dog that caught a quail) and that helped some, too. And then it all came down. Everyone who gave half a crap had bought it, read it, and moved on.
So I decided to do an audio book. I was reading through it and realized something: the book sucked. I couldn’t read it and keep a straight face. I was embarrassed, depressed and ready to give up writing. I couldn’t, though. This was my only job and is still my primary bread winning effort. But I couldn’t stand behind a product I didn’t believe in.
So I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I pulled the book from shelves so I could sort out some of the overly descriptive crap. About half way through I realized I didn’t want to read any more of it. It just went on and on and on! I worked on one chapter for two weeks because I couldn’t find the give a damn to fix the dead plot. It was over. I knew it. It was time to stop kicking this horse, get the shovel and give it a proper burial.
I was literally about to cry one night when I pounded my fist on the desk and just said “Ugh! If only she’d have CALLED instead of showing up on the door step I could skip this and…GREAT SCOTT! THAT’S IT!”
That simple tweak changed everything! And I mean everything! That moment made the whole ugly thing worth it. That “little tweak” was no small venture and I knew it. I’d have to change the entire second half of the book, throw out two of my favorite scenes and rework some motives. Say goodbye to 60 thousand words. When I had sat down earlier that month I’d planned to change a few things, edit some of the descriptions and make what I had read better, like buffing the paint and hitting it with a coat of wax. This wasn’t just a wax job anymore. It was major surgery. It was like gutting the thing to the chassis, replacing the old and busted engine with a race motor and reinforcing the entire car to hold up to the abusive new motor. And you know what? It worked like a charm. Those sixty thousand worthless, boring words I disparaged over deleting? They were replaced with 80 thousand fast-moving, exciting words.
What I had before was a boring book about two characters with no clear motives with a good ending and final plot twist. What I have now is a murder mystery thriller with Grindhouse leanings and paranormal twist starring two characters that almost everyone has a strong feeling for. The only gripe I really get is that I need an editor. I have that now and the spelling mistakes will be fixed by early April. And right now, even with the typos, repeated words and all of it, people tell me over and over again that they can’t put it down! That’s a book I can stand behind!
With my new-found confidence I’ve gone at it like I’m, killing snakes! Sales are up! Fan count is up and generally climbing! I’m back on the road, and with much style, I might add. So if you want to be an author my advice is simple. Step away from your book for three months, then read it aloud. When you hate it (and you will) make a backup, tear it down, build it up and go for broke.
Look around on facebook till you find a page that reviews books like yours. Concentrate on finding one that favors books with similar plots, characters, events, etc., but is willing to give a bad review to a bad book. Don’t worry about a bad review. If you’ve done your homework and read up on their page and your book is good, that threat evaporates. Pick that first reviewer strategically and watch the fans come tumbling in! Make sure you have it available for the Kindle and Nook and you’ll be shocked how well you do. I sure was.
You only get one shot, so aim well!