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.