Saturday, April 4, 2009

Self-Publishing and Self-Editing

I'm currently working on my first MG manuscript and I plan on cleaning it up and querying it once it's finished. In addition to this novel (and past projects that I've set aside), I participate in National Novel Writing Month every year. The results are usually self-indulgent fun little novellas that I write primarily to entertain my friends who also participate. They're not things I would ever consider selling. One of the "prizes" for completely NaNoWriMo is a free proof copy of your novel at Lulu (this year it's through Amazon's CreateSpace). I usually order the free proof and then publish the book through Lulu so that my close friends can also order a copy of my book and I can order a copy of theirs.

My question is this: will these little forays into self-publishing have an effect on eventually querying/potentially publishing my MG novel or any other future projects? The NaNo novellas are not children's books and haven't been marketed aside from an e-mail to my NaNo writing group announcing that they're up and available. I wouldn't, of course, mention them in my query, but Google has the ability to pull up all sorts of things these days.
This is the sort of explanation for self-publishing that makes perfect sense to publishing professionals. It says you have a realistic idea of the range of your work (some of it is just for fun; some of it is professional enough to send to publishers) and a realistic idea of what self-publishing is for (mostly just personal use).

As self-publishing gets easier, cheaper, and more wide-spread, even editors with a congenital prejudice against it are going to have to accept that it doesn't necessarily mean the author is a nitwit.

What editors are justified in worrying about is if your badly-edited and crappily-illustrated self-publishing efforts are on Amazon or some other easily-accessed place. Then they could be seen as negative publicity-- readers who might truly enjoy the book you published with Holt (eg) could be turned off by the book you published at Lulu, if they see both books in the same place.

You're building a name for yourself, remember-- and you want the qualities associated with that name to be consistent, whether it's "fun / character-driven", "literary / romantic", "suspenseful / humorous", etc. You don't want to confuse people with "fun / ugly", "literary / boring", or "suspenseful / like a bad acid trip".

And you know who's particularly good at quality-controlling an author's work? It's usually not the author.

7 comments:

Bailey Thomas said...

This was a great post for me. I'm also a NaNoWriMo participant, and although I've yet to finish my manuscript and begin querying, this is something that's been sitting in the back of my mind for a while.

Thanks!

Rosemary Carstens said...

I think you made an important point--thinking about the writing you do and what you hope to achieve with it. Are you doing it for fun? Are you doing it to build your Internet platform, to draw new clients, to sell to a publisher? Whatever it is, quality matters. There is some outstanding self-pubbed work out there and hopefully it will gain more acceptance and recognition--but probably not as long as people continue to flood the market with self-pubbed books sporting family photo covers, lack of professional interior and exterior design, etc. Spend the money and hire professionals, make your best showing--you'll be glad you did!
@tweets2go

Anonymous said...

Does the word pseudonym mean anything to this writer? Get one. And tell your friends. Then you needn't worry about people confusing your fun work with the real stuff. (Until you are famous and they want to pay you for anything you ever wrote.)

ae said...

LOL to tears... second to last paragraph.

pussy said...

Just do the writing and let online websites do the rest. kinda like outsourcing to geeks

Anonymous said...

EA, I am an illustrator who has published over ten books. I am very interested in writing in addition to illustrating. I am agented and have been very close to a sale (it just hasn't happened YET)... The books I write and the style I want to present them in is a lot different in tone, humor, and visual style then what's been published to this point. Would you recommend a pen name going forward?

Libby Murphy said...

Interesting. Glad I stumbled on the site, but then they say there are no mistakes.
Happy Twirls