Back in 2017, I self-published the my first novel, Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition – With Vampires. Self-publication was not my first desire; in fact, I avoided it, coming to choose the self-published path with great reluctance. This was after two years and countless numbers of rejections. I was tired of dealing with the traditional publishing industry with its fear of unknown quantities and its desire to publish only the next (insert popular author here). So, I took it upon myself to get the story of Scott Campbell out to the public on my own. It was a fun adventure, and, truth be known, I am glad I did it. It was satisfying in so many different ways — that is, except financially. Now, most authors don’t make a whole lot of money. In fact, most of them barely break even. You only hear about the big successes — the Grishams, the Kings, the Rowlings, the Gabaldons, the Martins, the Clancys, and so forth — but the fact is, they are very few and very far between. Most of us labor in obscurity, and struggle to pay our bills. The fact is, I have not yet made a profit from either of my novels, nor have I even come close to breaking even. Much of this is due to my own lack of ability as a salesman — I’m just not good at being my own publicist. To break any kind of ground in the self-publishing industry, one must not only be a competent writer, but must be their own publicist, salesperson, agent, social-media czar, and so forth. That’s a lot to do for most of us, and I’ve fallen flat in those regards. This leads me to an inescapable conclusion, one with which I have struggled lately:
I will not be self-publishing my third novel. In fact, at this stage, I may abandon self-publication completely — at least for the foreseeable future.
I just cannot justify the expense to myself. Oh, sure, I have the cash. I can throw the money, I’m just not sure I’ll ever get it back. There has been no return on my investment. At this stage of my life, with bills, debts, car payments, and a mortgage, publishing just to publish does not make good financial sense. Therefore, it is wiser for me to step back and look into other alternatives.
Yes, I know, there are some self-publishing services that are pretty darn affordable. These, however, come with absolutely no frills — no line editing, no copy editing, no proofreading, no layout or graphic design, no marketing assistance. Those elements cost, and if you want to do it right, then you’ve got to spend the time and money on those things, otherwise your project will come out looking cheap and amateurish (which is one of the frequent criticisms of many self-published works).
THIS IS IMPORTANT! This does not mean I am going to stop writing. No, indeed, I am still going to be working on the multiple projects I have in queue. I am just going to reevaluate how I handle these projects. I am still going to try the traditional route, even as hard and frustrating as it has been. There are other ideas that I am considering, but I have nothing solid on that at this time. I have no idea what the future holds, nor does anybody else.
Do I regret going the self-published route? Not at all. I wanted to get my work out there, and that’s what I did. The process was fun and kind of exciting, and it is very satisfying to see your work in solid form. So, no, I have no regrets. I just cannot justify that kind of expense again, not now.
This doesn’t mean I’m going away. I’m still writing, I am still producing. Maybe you’ll see my by-line in publication again. Even if I make no money, I will continue to write for the art, the love of the craft, and the love of storytelling. After all, those are the things that really matter, not whether or not you make lots of money (although the money is what allows you to do more, like self-publish that art). To those of you who count yourselves as my fans, I thank you for your support and patronage. I understand that this might be tough news to swallow (it is, for me), but I want to thank you for being there for me, and I hope you’ll still be there in the future, because I’m not going anywhere.