What??? Is that even a thing?

It is, as I discovered last Monday when I went to the book page for Never Speak on Amazon. I do it at least once a day to check my sales rank—a shameful practice which I try to justify by knowing that I’m far from alone.

When I looked on Monday the Kindle version of my book was gone. Had I violated one of Amazon’s unwritten rules, and they’d killed my book? A flurry of emails revealed the cause. I’d asked my agent to ask my publisher to “revert the rights” to the book to me—i.e., give me my baby back. Why? Explaining that would require details of sausage making I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say, my publisher and I didn’t have a good fit.

Once I realized what was going on I was happy. I’d feared the reversion process would take months.

A day and numerous phone calls with Amazon’s surprisingly informed author support staff later, Never Speak was….

RE-PUBLISHED! Reincarnated, like Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, or is it Frankennovel….

 And as of that moment, also self-published.

It’s terrifying. I’ve been exploring the world of self-publishing on and off for years, and intensely during recent months. That world is as alien and befuddling as a cold, lonely planet circling a green sun at the ends of the universe. The tongue spoken by the beings there is filled with arcane formulations like “lead magnet,” “click funnels,” “landing pages,” and most horrifying, “gaming the Amazon algorithm.”

Five years ago, I wrote about the dilemma facing writers—whether to self-publish or hold out for a publisher. What I know now is that the metaphor of your book as your baby is apt. If you self-publish, you’re going to be holding, feeding and changing the thing day in and day out, by your lonesome. But when you sign with a publisher, you’re handing that precious creation off to a stranger, and who knows what they’ll do with it?

Strange and frightening as the world of self-publishing is, I venture daily into it, cutting a path into the jungle. Truly, the more I learn, the more I discover what I don’t know.

I’m hedging my bets. My explorations have unearthed three new digital publishers in the UK, each with impressive sales of authors in my genre. Why the UK? My guess is that smart people have looked at the devastation wreaked by Brexit and started companies with an international market.

If I strike out with the three—or judge them unsuitable to take care of my baby—it’ll be self-publishing all the way.

With all that I’m learning, I can always write one of those bestselling books on how to write and self-publish a bestselling book on how to….

But I doubt I’ll do it. I don’t have the snake-oil salesman gene.



Views: 34

Comment by Anna Herrington on May 23, 2019 at 7:32am

I always wonder how the relationships between writer and agent and editor and publisher seem to fit so smoothly when reading blurbs at end of books thanking their BFF forever publisher or agent or editor.... when the pitfalls and difficulties of finding the right and fair mix seem so ubiquitous.

I think having some control back would be a good thing (but that speaks to how I tend to roll, sometimes overburdened loner vs group support type), unless you do find the BFF kind of supporters in the publishing field who listen to you, as well as promote your book in a great way so you can rave about them in your blurbs.  : )

From the little exposure I've had to publishers, they definitely do not seem to make it easy for authors. Best wishes for good and better publishing relationships going forward! 

Comment by Anna Herrington on May 23, 2019 at 6:36pm

Is there anything you'd do differently from the start, re agent/editor/publisher relationships, next time?

Comment by John Manchester on May 23, 2019 at 7:15pm

Ah, hindsight. Though I really like my agent, I might have skipped that step and gone right to self-publishing five years ago. By now maybe I'd be in a better place. But what is a better place? I'm learning tons about self-publishing and marketing, and enjoying writing a prequel novella , which I never dreamed of doing. 

Now that I finally have a book out there, I'm more attuned to the market. "Writing to market" is considered the gossip to some, and the words of the devil to others. My experience with music tells me it's somewhere in the middle. 

Comment by John Manchester on May 24, 2019 at 9:44am

Anna, I sent you a PM if you want to check your inbox


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