Can you see the allure of the traditionally published author? Do they sit around all day and do nothing but write or attend book premier parties complete with champagne and good looking people clamoring for a look at you? Now I can. After all the hard work it is easy to just want to write and not market.
Going it alone means going it alone. One can die in obscurity with dignity intact much easier than flaming out for all the world to see a la (insert latest celeb flameout). No one wants obscurity but no one wants to flounder around in discouragement either.
Putting together a long range plan has been tough. I think long term but not in minute detail sometimes. I want to do everything at once because it feels like I’m doing something when in fact I’m not doing much at all. If you can get something by an agent and happen to sell it to a house, they do all of this for you and take their cut. Taking charge of your own destiny has been scary. No one to blame but myself but no time frame to live up to either. The wild horses are constrained by the need to be the business leader of the enterprise. The creative hat comes off and the planning and calculating hat comes on. I don’t know if it is easier for some to do, it has not been easy for me to do.
The process as a whole has been straightforward enough. Editor supplies final document, upload it to Create Space and KDP, walk through the menus, set the price, choose the distribution channels and behold, it’s up for sale! After that? Where to begin!
No one knows about it and will not until you figure out how to reach them. Amazon has done for self publishing what Apple has done for digital media. POD and other printers have been around for years. Self publishing has been around since the printing press. But, the power of distribution has not always been available. Now, it is making the possibility of making money without the traditional process that much more attainable. Honestly, I was on this route before Amazon and its Kindle and its ebook distribution revolution was in full swing. I am gratified that I actually have a chance at reaching more people and of actually making some money on the effort, but the choice to go self publishing was made long before.
Without the benefit of a marketing department or a publicist, you have to spend more of your time fronting your work than otherwise. You get to keep what you make in a large part, but one can only decide for themselves if the trade off is worth it or not. I cannot say either way at the moment as the process is only just beginning.
The 150th of Shiloh is in April of 2012 and I plan on attending the reenactment and looking to meet some bookstore owners and park historians in person with copies of the book and media materials. This will be the first big push at some of the trappings of the traditional market. Until I reach out I do not have any idea if the effort will pan out. There are roadblocks to this. Getting a bookstore to sell your work is almost a universal pan if it is self published, so getting into the book distribution channels is a must if you want to approach libraries and bookstores. But, I hope to capitalize on the event and some of the smaller bookstores who can make their own local choices on books they carry (each NPS bookstore can choose what it sells) and on doing educational monologues with signings. I won’t know until I try.