Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Kody Boye Decided to Self-Publish

 Today I have a guest blogger.  Kody Boye is not only a really good friend, he's also my web designer, moderator on some of my social networks, and formats my self-published books.  He's also a young, brilliant writer with a great career ahead of him.

Kody Boye recently released his first book in a dark fantasy series called THE BROTHERHOOD SAGA.  This was a complete labor of love and has consumed a lot of his energy and time for the last two years.  I know he has already written the 2nd and 3rd book in the series and is working on the 4th.  He plans to release all five books of the series himself.

I asked him to write a post about why he decided to self-publish and he was kind enough to do so. 

A lot of people question me when they see me self-publishing short fiction via Createspace, Amazon’s Kindle dashboard or even Smashwords. This is understandable. For the past six years, I’ve worked in small-press writing industry as somewhat of an adapter—writing, revising, critiquing, rewriting and then submitting, with the result usually either coming back as Accept or Reject. 

When I get asked why I self-publish, I find it hard to explain—not because I can’t put it into my own words, but because a lot of people don’t understand my reasoning behind going into the self-publishing business. There are usually a few specific reasons why writers are told to go through publishers rather than doing it themselves. 
 A) You’ll get distribution. 
 B) You don’t have to pay for editing, cover art or formatting 
 And C) You’ll get a bigger readership. 

 Now—given that it is 2012 and we’ve seen a massive shift in the publishing industry as a whole (both due to eBooks and the rise of Print-On-Demand publishing,) I feel the need to set something straight. As a writer who’s worked on both sides of the fence, I can honestly explain a few things I’ve found just by being in the industry. 

 So—onto our list from above:

 A) You’ll get distribution. This may be true if you’re a large press publisher. By ‘distribution,’ we ultimately think of getting books in bookstores, convenience shops, in the airport or even at your local grocery market. This is usually by the power of the print count of a book (as in, how many books are printed at a time and then distributed to stores.) Most small press publishers distribute the same way independent authors do—via Smashwords, which sends your books to various online bookstores and ebook market websites; via Createspace, which prints on demand and with their Pro feature gives bookstores and libraries the ability to order books; and Kindle, which can easily be obtained either by opening an Amazon account or by clicking on the ‘Kindle’ tab on Smashwords. In the end writer must pick a publisher based on his or her track record. I know of small-press publishers who distribute to stores based on contracts with higher-market printers, and I know those who only work with print-on-demand technology. Going with a publisher that isn’t considered one of ‘the big ones’ or whose publications have not held up to the industry’s standard of sales is like a double-edged sword—on one hand, you may have someone who can promote the living hell out of your book, while on the other you may have someone who doesn’t know a thing about promotion. 

 B) You don’t have to pay for editing, cover art of formatting. This isn’t something I can contest, as a good publisher’s job is to pay for those resources. 

 C) You’ll get a bigger readership. This, dear reader, is ultimately up to you and your publisher as a promoter. If your publisher isn’t going out of their way to post ads in magazines, online, in other books or in a multitude of various outlets, you’re not going to get any more sales than you would have had even if you did happen to publish independently. With self-publishing, the market has been dragged down. There is no longer a ‘barrier’ for fiction that is deemed ‘acceptable’ or ‘sellable’ to block first-time writers (i.e, the submission/rejection process) from putting bad books out. For that reason, it becomes much more difficult for a first-time author to find an audience unless they’re actually pushing themselves toward it. The amount of readers you have ultimately falls onto either onto the publishing house or you. Sadly, and usually, small press and independent readers are on their own in that regard. 

 With that out of the way, and with those common misconceptions arranged, you’re probably wondering: Why are you self-publishing something that you believe is sellable? (AKA: The Brotherhood Saga.) 

 There’s a few reasons. 

 1.) It’s too long. At nearly five-hundred pages, it’s just 25,000 shy of being a half-million word book. Most small press publishers won’t even look at it. It’s too long. 

 2.) I want to control the income. I have an instinctive gut feeling that if I do this myself rather than sell it through a publisher that I will eventually get somewhere with this series—monetarily. Had I tried going through a publisher, I may have received a substantially-lowered royalty, or I may have been given an advance—which, most likely, would not have been that great, considering I do not as of yet have a good marketplace of readers. 

 3.) It’s personal. The Brotherhood was born out of a brain cancer scare (which I detail in full within the beginning of the novel itself.) Because of that, there’s many strong emotions attached to the book and story as a whole, which is why I’m not so tempted to place it in someone else’s hands to sell it for me. 

 4.) I control everything. I pick who edits it, who formats it (me,) and who does the cover art. It might just be because I work at the speed of light (no joke on that part,) but I don’t like waiting around for other people to do stuff for me—which, to be frank, is a sad and honest truth about the publishing world. Most things go at a snail’s pace if there is no looming deadline. 

 5.) I don’t want my book chopped apart. Though I would not refuse to cut down certain aspects of the book if I believed it would help the story, I find it hard to stomach the idea of cutting a book of this length apart. Blood, the first Brotherhood Saga book in particular, is very story and plot-driven. For me to take those elements out I would have to do extensive rewriting—which, at this point, I’d rather not do. I love the story as it is. I don’t want it to be cut apart and stitched back together. 

 My main goal with my process of self-publishing is to test my limits by seeing just what I can do in regards to promotion. I’ve learned a few tricks in the past two/three years about promoting a novel or a series. 

That alone is enough to assure me that, in my current state, I can do pretty much everything a regular small-press publisher could do. That in and of itself is the primary reason why I have decided to forego traditional publishing with some of my work until a later date.


  1. I just stumbled upon your blog after getting off the phone with Createspace. Lots to mull over.
    I too have a saga, 3 in the series and book 1, is 500 pages! A little paranormal and little romance and lots of dysfunction and toss in a few curses! After my phone call today, my head was going in many directions and I felt a little deflated. The fantasy of landing a big Publisher and letting them be the driver, is a fantasy as a first time author with 500 pages.
    I do know an well rounded Literary Agent who suggested I go self and she is launching a business to help writers understand and get launched in the self Pub world. Your blog lifted my spirits today on the confusion as to what to do with it. It has been professionaly edited and ready to go. I am an Artist and Designer so layout and all that fun stuff, is ready to do.
    I need to look into it and understand a little more with createspace. Cost for each book @6.85 for me then retail at $17.99 is a little scary. I just worry will someone spend $17.99 on a first time Author? As a business owner, I know I will have to get out and market. That I enjoy. I just wonder in this economy will someone spend that $$ on a paperback? Or do I just go to E-books to launch and go from there?
    Diana B

  2. @ Diana,

    I'm happy to hear you're interested in self-publishing/do-it-yourself work. Right now, this avenue is so open to anyone that it's pretty easy to just jump into, especially if your work has already been edited/you have cover art/formatting, etc.

    As to the price of your book -- Createspace recently got rid of their pro plan and lowered the prices for all their books and is giving the better royalty incentive to everyone. I think you might want to look back at your book again and see if you can lower the pricing -- because like you said, few people will be willing to spend such an amount on a new author.

    My recommendation for you is to consider promoting yourself via eBooks along with your paperback plans. If you set your book at .99 cents (like I did,) you're beating out both the big-name publishers (TOR, St. Martin's, etc.) as well as the indies who price their books higher. Sure -- it's not a huge profit, but the point of a first book for a first-time writer is to try and get their name out there. I've done the same thing with my work and I can honestly believe that contributes to my sales at the current point in time.

    I wish you well in your venture!

    - Kody


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