Friday, March 30, 2012

Is Self-Publishing the Key to Publishing Success?

By Jean Henry Mead

Not everyone agrees that independent publishing is the key to writing success, but a growing number of authors are proving the naysayers wrong. More and more writers are leaving their publishers to strike out on their own, some with unparalleled success, such as Robert Walker, who has repeatedly said that the secret to success is to consistently turn out quality work on a regular basis.

But even Rob will admit that there’s more to it than that. We’ve all heard that writers need a platform and a fan base of readers who trust the author to turn out quality work. But how does one acquire a fan base? Not by hermitting him or herself at the computer without making contact with the outside world. Those days are over.

When I put together my second volume of mystery writer interviews, I met some successful new writers, among them Canadian International bestselling author Cheryl Kaye Tardif, who publishes not only her own work but others with her Imajin Press from Alberta.

Cheryl says in my new book,The Mystery Writers: “In 2010 Amazon opened KDP to Canadian authors and I went back to my roots—to indie publishing. For me it's probably the best fit. I am by nature very independent and a strong marketer. Plus I'm ‘an idea person.’ Even my old publisher saw this in me and often called me a "guru" or "marketing genius." While I don't consider myself a ‘genius’ I do know that I'm a risk-taker.”

Tim Hallinan, award-winning author of the traditionally published Poke Rafferty mystery/thriller series, decided to self-publish his Junior Bender series—humorous stories of a burglar with a “moral code who works as a private eye for crooks.” Tim’s earlier novels earned him critical acclaim but not enough money to retire from a day job. He now earns thousands of dollars a month with his self-published ebooks.

He said the reason he decided to leave his agent and publisher is because “the money we were offered by the publishers wasn’t very good. I looked at the offers and thought, ‘I’d rather own my books.”

Rebecca Dahlke once managed her father’s crop dusting service in Modesto, California, and decided that her protagonist—a beautiful former model—should also be a crop duster. She then decided to independently publish her novels, with successful results. Rebecca, like Cheryl, is a promoter and a humorous one at that. She says, “Self-publishing is no longer a dirty word. . . Eons ago, back in the dark ages (of publishing)—was it really only five years ago?—all we authors could hope for was a good agent, a decent publisher, a slowly growing fan base, and a list of book stores that might, or might not, keep our books on their shelves for three to six months before returning the unsold copies to the publisher. We could send in Advanced Reader Copies to prestigious reviewers or magazines and hope they would say nice things about our books, or pay a publicist to tout it, take our dog and pony show on the road, eat bad food, stay in crappy hotels, be at that next book store, book fair, conference, and smile till our cheeks ached. .

“The changes have been exciting, and for this author, validation that I too can write books that readers enjoy. So, for all the august veterans who see the Internet as an encroachment onto their hard-won personal turf, let me paraphrase one of my favorite movie lines: ‘Saddle up boys and girls, it’s going to be a bumpy ride’!” You can read how Rebecca accomplished her success in The Mystery Writers.

And, after ten publishers of my own over the years, I decided to independently publish The Mystery Writers with my own small press. The 406-page book is featured on Createspace and is also available on and Barnes and Noble.

The Mystery Writers is a veritable bible for fledgling writers because the advice offered by 58 bestselling, award-winning and midlist writers is invaluable for any genre. Twelve subgenres are represented and the authors write from as far away as South Africa, Brazil, Thailand, the U.S. and England.

Independent publishing isn’t for everyone. It requires not only writing talent but good marketing skills and industry know-how to succeed. A number of self- publishers are included in The Mystery Writers as well as bestselling traditionally published novelists such as Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block, J.A. Jance, Vicki Hinze and James Scott Bell (former Writer’s Digest fiction columnist).

To promote the book, I’ll be blog tourng from April 16-28 with the "Mystery We Write" blog group. My blog tour schedule is available online and I’ll be giving away a print copy of the book and an e-book copy in a drawing at the conclusion of the tour to visitors who leave comments with their email addresses throughout the tour.

1 comment:

Bill Kirton said...

Good luck with the new venture, Jean. If it's as full and rich as the first one was, it'll certainly find readers.
I've only self-published one book, under a pen name, and it was fun but took up a lot of time. Doing it on the scale you're envisaging will be demanding but 'owning the book', as Tim Hallinan puts it, is a positive step.