Watch this article instead!
Last week I launched a Kickstarter campaign for self publishing Moonshadow’s Guardian, my second book. I made the decision to self publish, and to run this Kickstarter to fund professional editing, over a year ago. Today I’d like to explain why.
Why I chose to self publish Moonshadow’s Guardian
My first book, Keeper of the Dawn, is traditionally published by a small press. When I decided to publish my second book, Moonshadow’s Guardian, many people had a question for me: why self publish when you know you can get traditionally published?
This question often has good intentions behind it, but it’s based on a fundamental misunderstanding. Despite how far self publishing has come, these people still believe it’s a last resort. They fail to see that self published authors aren’t just publishing books, they’re making a living, often a much better one than traditionally published authors with comparative sales.
Explaining my decision over and over again is exhausting, so I’ve decided to share all the reasons why I’m self publishing here:
1. I control the timeline
The main reason I’m self publishing Moonshadow’s Guardian is that it gives me full control of the timeline. Big publishers typically take two or three years to get a book from signed to published. Most small publishers take one year to get a book from the original contract to a published novel, excluding the time it takes to find that publisher in the first place.
The easiest way to ensure a successful writing career is to publish regularly. This keeps your name in readers’ minds and gives them an extended catalog to explore once they discover you. Many of the successful authors I follow publish two or three books a year, and they generally recommend publishing one book per year as an absolute minimum.
I didn’t want to rely on a publisher’s timeline. I wanted to get the book out myself, this year, so I could hit that one book per year pace and build my author career.
2. I control the content
My other big concern, and the reason why most of the authors I know self publish, is maintaining full control of the content. Moonshadow’s Guardian is not your typical adult fantasy novel. It features a host of women with actual autonomy. It explores trauma and regret, focusing on Riana’s inner journey as much as the outer one. It’s also written in first person, with two narrators.
There are many other aspects of Moonshadow’s Guardian that I would consider changing if an editor suggested, but none of the things I mentioned above are optional for me. And adult fantasy editors are still mostly stuck on the same old tropes they’ve been working with for fifty years.
I’m aware that with a traditional publisher I would be able to fight suggested edits if I believed they ruined my story, but I don’t want to fight. I want to work with people who love my story, understand my vision, and want to make that better–not people who want to insert their vision into my book to make it more “marketable”.
3. I control the marketing
Traditionally published writers are largely in charge of their own marketing, but there are limits to their control. They don’t get to decide how much marketing budget their publisher has, or to run Amazon ads for their books. They certainly don’t decide when or if their books go on sale, or if their books get free days. They don’t even decide what stores their books are available in.
As a self published author, I control everything. I can run a sale for Moonshadow’s Guardian whenever I want. I can do as many Amazon ads as I can afford, or advertise anywhere else I want. I can do sales and free days and endless giveaways. Everything is up to me, and maybe a couple people I’ll hire down the road.
In short, I’m choosing to self publish so I can have complete control of my career. The validation of a traditional publication was nice, and I love working with The Book Smugglers, and I might seek traditional publication for other books down the line, but I don’t want to put all my eggs in the traditional publication basket. I don’t want my entire income to rely on other people, and I especially don’t want it all to rely on one company.
Unfortunately, self publishing isn’t as simple as deciding you want to do it, at least not if you want to publish a successful book. That book must be professionally edited and formatted, and it sure as hell needs a professional cover design. You can learn to do the formatting yourself, but every writer needs an editor. Covers sell books, and an experienced cover designer will know what imagery and fonts sell in your genres.
As a freelance writer who lives in a big city, these costs add up fast for me. I knew I wanted to self publish Moonshadow’s Guardian, and that I was willing to pay to make it the best book it can be before it hits the shelves. I also knew that I’d never be able to do it in a year long timeline on my own, which brings me to my final point:
How you can help
I’m running a Kickstarter to bring Moonshadow’s Guardian into the world in 2018 despite my limited personal resources. My goal is $1,500, enough to pay for professional editing and proofreading, along with uploading my book to Ingram Spark so I can access better print distribution. As of writing this article, I’m already almost $900 in. I need YOUR help to get the rest of the way to my goal.
What you’ll get
As a campaign backer you can access a range of bookish prizes, including ebooks donated by indie authors Brian Rathbone, Crystal Collier, and Chris Pavesic. You can also get SIGNED copies of both Moonshadow’s Guardian and my first book, Keeper of the Dawn. Oh, and you get the pride of knowing that you’ve helped bring an amazing book into the world.