When I started my author journey (in 2013), I decided that self-publishing my first novel (In the Days) was the right choice. After all, I spent weeks submitting it to various publishers and didn’t hear back. I wanted to put out a book so I could start getting my name recognized.
After publishing the book in March 2014, I set to work on the next book (Blade of the Destroyer). But as I got reviews and feedback for In the Days, I realized a harsh truth: I wasn’t as good a writer as I thought I was. I needed input not just from beta readers and critiquers, but also professional editors adept at finding and eradicating mistakes.
Though it took a few days to swallow my hurt feelings, I set about making Blade of the Destroyer as good as possible. That meant not only going through multiple critiquing rounds, but also various self-editing rounds AND professional editors. By the time the product was completed (November 2014) and ready to shop around to publishers, it was in good shape. After the editors at my publisher J. Ellington Ashton Press finished with it, it was a MUCH better product.
That discovery supported my decision to work with an indie press/small publisher instead of going the route of self-publishing.
Flash forward to today, April 2017: I have four published novels (three of The Last Bucelarii series with J. Ellington Ashton and one of the Queen of Thieves series with Dragonblade Publishing). Four books of learning from editors, beta readers, and reviewers. Four books of adapting my writing style and striving to continuously improve.
Now, four books later, I’m feeling more confident on the writing side of things (still working on the marketing). I’ve learned a lot about the craft of storytelling, building a structured novel, plot elements, and all the other details that go into producing a great novel. My first drafts are getting cleaner and cleaner with each book I write, with fewer plot holes and grand editing mistakes. After all this, I’m thinking about considering the self-publishing route once more.
As I write this, I still have 5 books to complete/publish to finish The Last Bucelarii and Queen of Thieves series. I won’t be able to start on a significant new project until 2018 at the earliest. However, I WILL be experimenting with self-publishing in late 2017—I will be releasing a collection of short stories set in the world the Hunter and Ilanna.
Essentially, it will be a “test run” to see what my work is like when it’s self-published. I’ll still work with an editor, but I will be approaching it a totally different way than I approached my first self-published novel. The freelance editors I worked with on that book did a good job of correcting the grammar issues, but I felt like they weren’t invested in the story to the same degree a publishing house editor is. In-house editors are trying to do more than just clean up a story—they’re trying to make it better so their publishing house sells more. My previous experiences with freelance editors made me re-think my approach to hiring/working with editors. I’m going to look for an editor who has read my work and actually LIKES it. If they’re invested in my success instead of just their paycheck, I believe it will lead to a better outcome.
I decided against self-publishing in the past because I needed that support to build my confidence as a writer. Now that I have a bit more experience under my belt, it’s time to try a new thing and see if it works for me.