Wordy Wednesday: The Self Pub Wars

By now you’ve already read Amanda Hocking’s rant on self publishing and how it seems like because of her the self publishing wars are on. If you haven’t seen the post, go here: Some things that need to be said

There’s been a lot of unrest in the publishing industry mostly because there are more people writing and more things being published everyday and everyone wants to get their stuff out there. It’s coming down to some pretty nasty arguments happening even in the public domain. The first being that the big publishing houses are like those elementary clubs of pretty girls we couldn’t get into because we were the ugly ducklings. I assure you, it’s not like that at all, if you can’t get in, it’s because they don’t want to take a chance on you. It’s business, it’s not personal. So many aspiring writers are taking it personally though, they’re giving the big middle fingers up to the big houses, to agents, to basically all of publishing and saying they can stretch out on their own, self publish and be the next big star. (haha probably not)

This was on Sara Megibow’s twitter feed:

SaraMegibow Sara Megibow
hmmmm…huge onslaught of communication from writers who want to stick their middle finger up at us agents. I get it. Still…a rough day.

The thing about self publishing is that it’s hard work without rewards. I should know, I’ve actually done it, and failed at it. Not miserably, I mean I did sell about 60 of my books which like Amanda Hocking said, was usual for most people who self publish. My book is also a niche market, specifically targeting people interested in psychic development. When I was 18 I used to think there were tons of those people, now I’m seeing the pie is incredibly smaller. But still, I have a perfectly good psychic development book which was actually looked at by an editor at Llewellyn’s and then rejected because they wanted to go in another direction. I thought it was my author platform but then my professor at the Midwest Institute of Metaphysical Theology submitted a Tarot book and was declined as well, so I think it’s all just based on what they’re looking for and what they think their readers will buy up.

That being said I’ve had copies of my book at various stores all over my city locally, I was available for order on Ingram, I was on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, I pumped it out on Facebook, and still, the most copies I sold in one sitting was at the Central Canada Comic Con, and I sold to people I knew, literally ONE person walked up, said cool, handed me money and took off with a book. That was only ONE.

It takes time, you need to have a product people want, you have to have not only the skills to do the marketing but SOMETHING TO MARKET. I hate to say it, but there are keywords people look for when browsing for books and if your keywords aren’t what they want, then they’re moving on.

Case in point, I have worked for a major convention for 5 years doing marketing, advertising and promoting. I DO know how to pull out all the stops for an event, from attracting newspaper, radio, and television stations to get involved, to booking advertising space with media outlets, to posting on forums, facebook, twitter, etc, to postering and handing out hand flyers (sometimes we’d be at a mall show, and we’d just hand people handbills, other times we would book a table at the forks market and do it there, other times we would book tables at other events and go in costume, etc. etc. I’m not joking, it’s HARD work) And if you think that IN PERSON marketing is hard enough, INTERNET marketing is soooo much harder. I’ve got signatures on my profiles at the forums I go to, I’ve got facebook, twitter, a blog, linkedin, etc. etc. Go ahead and do a search for Rhiannon Paille, you’ll see the first 2 pages are full of just things that link you back to me.

But while I can get my name out there, people need to be searching for OTHER things when they find me and admittedly, that doesn’t go so well. If you go look up “Psychic” you won’t find me, and navigating myself through SEO and Adwords and what not is . . . tough!

So the fact is, it doesn’t matter what you’re promoting on the internet, it’s not going to make it to a wide audience unless you’re being backed by something else.

Case in point, I recently signed up with www.psychicsdirectory.com and the owners there wanted to feature me because I’m really good at what I do (no seriously, I could act like Hugh Laurie on House because of how good I am, but I try not to ;)) and because I’m on their site, I get more hits.

In addition to psychicsdirectory I am also on liveperson.com, where I actually work through their platform and see clients. I’m independently contracted through them so I am still my own boss, but I am listed in multiple categories in their Spirituality & Religion cluster and because of my reviews, longevity, numbers of clients, photo, and other factors, I am in their top 50 psychics. At point point I was ranked 15th on their site, but things change, and they have trends as well. A lot of the people who were in the top 10 when I began are now in the 20’s or 30’s because people always want to try new psychics to see if they can get a new perspective. It’s like the flavor of the week.

So you ask yourself, going back to publishing here, how the big houses can help you? The big houses have more people following them, looking for the next books they’re putting out, more people to sell to. They have access to conglomerate bookstores, can print books at a reasonable rate and can help you build an author presence in the book world.

You still need to have a product worth selling, but they help you with that part. They decide how they’re going to make your book stand out from all the other books they publish, who they’re going to target and how they’re going to do it. And then they put it out there and hope that people pick up on it and want more.

It’s not rocket science, it’s just business.