I had this long and very clever blog post witten in which present-day Marko rebuts the arguments of 2011 Marko in opposition of self-publishing, but it came across all braggy and smarmy, so I deleted the draft and decided to start over.
Yes, two years ago I wrote a lengthy blog post detailing why I’d never, ever self-publish. Rather than refuting all my points from back then, I’ll make a short list of reasons why I finally decided to put the novel out myself.
Firstly, and most importantly, I was out of patience with the traditional dance of Query > Submit > File Rejection in pursuit of an agent or publisher. I finished the novel in 2009, sent it to a major SF publishing house in the summer of that year, and didn’t hear back at all. No rejection, no “I still haven’t gotten around to looking at it”, no acceptance, nothing. I might as well have put the manuscript into the stacks at the local library, hoping that an editor might stumble across it accidentally while looking for new reading material in our village library by chance. That’s three and a half years waiting for a response. In the meantime, I shopped the manuscript around to half a dozen other publishers and about 30 or 40 agents, and got no bites. I was simply at the end of my rope with patience.
Secondly, the market for self-publishing has changed quite a bit in the last two years. In 2011, ebook readers were still just getting off the ground; now they’re so mainstream that everyone and their grandmother has a Kindle or an iPad with a reading app on it. Sales of Kindle books have gone up accordingly–that awful Fifty Shades of Kink book sold twice as many Kindle copies than print books. While self-published authors are still looked down upon somewhat (and there is a lot of awful self-published shit out there), there are now plenty of self-pubbers whose books have sold well enough to get their authors offers from traditional publishing houses, and quite a few who can actually make a decent living off their self-published books. Economically, the field has become more viable for self-publishing.
Now that I have the novel out there, I must say that I also like the control I have over every aspect of this endeavor. I went with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and their control panel lets me track my sales numbers pretty much in real-time. KDP also pays royalties out monthly (traditional publishers pay twice a year), so there’s no guesswork involved in when (or how much) I’ll get paid.
So there you have the reasons why I changed my mind on self-publishing: I was sick of the traditional submission treadmill, Kindle publishing seemed like a good way to get my work in front of a lot of readers, and I very much enjoy the transparency and speed of the sales and royalties model offered by Amazon. Times and circumstances change, and I can admit that I’ve been wrong, and that my fears about self-publishing were (luckily) unfounded in my case. Your mileage may vary, of course.