At this point, you’re probably wondering if I have a vested interest in self-publishing.  Yes, I did go the route of supported self-publishing, or SSP as I’ll call it for now.  Before you jump to conclusions, it wasn’t for the usual reasons.  First, I am an excellent writer.  People and organizations have been printing and broadcasting bits of my work almost since I learned to read and write.  Examples include plays, radio essays, local history and newspaper articles, even a magazine article.  The comment from former teachers who find out I now have a published novel is, “what took you so long?”  When I made the decision to get published, the question was never, ‘if a publisher accepts my work,’ but ‘who do I want as my publisher?’

It didn’t take long to find iUniverse.  (I tend to be an optimist, so I expect things to work out in a timely manner.)  The reason iUniverse caught my eye was because one of their books, Get Published, was displayed at the entrance of a Coles bookstore.  Immediately, that indicated a degree of credibility.  (I’m not opposed to mainstream publishing; I just don’t think it’s the only credible option out there.)  In the next little while, everything about iUniverse checked out.  Sure, it would cost something to get my manuscript into print, but it looked like it would be worth it.

It wasn’t just ‘getting published,’ either.  This company was able to do things I could not, like getting my book listed with major online booksellers, and offering editorial support.  My novel, Been Blued, was published in June 2007, and has been doing fairly well for a recent publication by a ‘new’ author.  (I’m thiry-eight, how often do I get to call myself ‘new?’) 😉

I also needed a publisher who could keep up with me.  A mainstream publisher would require almost two years to get a sequel into print.  The sequel to Been Blued will be out in less than six months.  Will it be as good as Been Blued?  Of course not, nothing can compare…just kidding.  I sure hope so, but it will be the readers who decide.  Meanwhile, I’m busy thinking up ideas for the next title in the Martian Symbiont series.

Another bonus of SSP is that I’m in control.  They make suggestions, I choose which ones to accept or reject.  They suggested turning the story line into a series, which I had already been considering.  Why not continue to use characters that readers know a bit, and develop them further?

Yet another reason I like SSP is that the pay is better.  Compare the traditional percentage an author gets with the percentage an SSP author gets.  I can make the same amount of income from fewer book sales.  It took very little time to ‘make back’ the money I’d put into SSP.  In fact, with my first ‘significant’ sale (50 books,) I had enough to pay for a professionally hosted website.  It’s ScifiAliens.com, if you’re interested; there’s not a lot of content yet, I’ve been busy.

I imagine the higher author commission would irritate some traditional publishers, but let’s face it, writing is a highly competitive business.  Authors who go the SSP route and ‘make it’ should not be disdained.

It’s not like self-publishing has cornered the market on bad writing.  If you are a bad writer, you should not get published.  The difficulty lies in who gets to decide what ‘bad writing’ is.  In a marketplace where just about everything is out there, deciding to discriminate against SSP is a copout.  True, a lot of ‘bad writing’ will appeal to the masses, but serious authors hope readers will come to appreciate them, no matter how they got into print.

I think I’m a serious writer, I’ve even invested in my own work.  But I’m not someone who one day picked up a pen and said ‘now I will be a best selling author.’  It was only the decision to get into print that was recent.  The writing was always there.  I have piles of notebooks filled with stories that will never get published unless someone finds them long after I’m gone.

What I didn’t fully expect was the prejudice facing SSP authors.  (I hate that!)  I looked up Canadian Authors online and discovered far fewer names than I’d expected.  There was a section for adding to the list.  When I went to enter my own name, I noticed the part that said they didn’t accept self-published authors.  Their loss, but I see where they’re coming from.  I just don’t agree with it.

Thanks for reading.  🙂

Phyllis K Twombly

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