Since the summer of 2012, I’ve self-published 13 books on my own. The writing, editing, formatting, cover design, etc., was all my own doing. From start-to-finish, every book I’ve churned out (10 novels, 3 poetry collections) has been a labor of love and insanity. But of those 13 books, there’s only 6 I could recommend to you without cringing, or giving some sort of disclaimer.
See, I did the self-publishing thing on my own. Since I started, almost three years ago, I’ve had other writers interested in self-publishing contact me to ask about anything from formatting to pricing. Heck, I even self-published one woman’s debut novel, because it’s not the easiest process in the world to go through and sometimes, when you have a book you just want to release now, it pays to have someone else do it. (she self-published her second book on her own, and I’m proud of her for conquering that learning curve) I’m not saying I’m the reason these people have gone on to release successful books, because they’re all wickedly talented, but I like to think the process was made easier for them because they had someone to turn to.
I didn’t have that. Self-publishing wasn’t as popular three years ago as it is now, and even if it had been, I didn’t know anyone who’d self-published. Okay, not true- I’d known people who’d gone the traditional self-publishing route, where they worked with an independent printing company and shelled out $5,000 for their first run… of which they might have sold 20 copies out of 500. 18 and fresh out of college, I didn’t have that kind of money and I really didn’t want to try and sell 500 copies of a book I wasn’t sure people would like. So I jumped onboard the online self-publishing bandwagon and for the past three years, I’ve been trying to figure out how to swim in this tumultuous ocean.
… okay, three years in and I can honestly say I’m still trying to figure out how to tread water.
Look at the books I’ve published and you’ll see how I’ve grown, not only as an author, but as a book publisher as well. There are still areas I’m not great at (lacking an artistic bone, I hate cover designing), but I’m getting better all the time. And I’m proud of that. I love every book I’ve ever written… but there are some that make me cringe when I think, “What if that’s the first book someone reads by me?”
I’ve had people start at the beginning, with my debut novel, and decide they dislike my writing and find the whole production to be immature and lacking. These are people who live hundreds of miles away from me, anonymously review my book, and there’s no way I can say to them, “Try my latest book. My latest is always my best.” I can’t convince people I can’t talk to; I can’t give you a disclaimer if you’re not there to hear it.
So I’ve decided to remove some of my books from Amazon. What remains are the books I would recommend to someone without cringing or offering some explanation. Because I’ve come to accept the fact that people’s first impression of me is going to be what they find on Amazon, so might as well make it the best I can offer.
But for those of you who are interested in my evolution as an author (or any relatives who insist on owning a copy of every book I’ve ever written), all my books will forever be available through Createspace. It’s the Amazon owned company I publish through, but it doesn’t get anywhere near the traffic as my Amazon page, so I’ve deemed it a safe place to have all my books available without running the risk of ruining someone’s first impression of me.
As for future writing? You have to admit, 13 books in 2.5 years is impressive. There were so many stories I wanted to tell and words I had to say in those first three years and I have to say, I think I’ve said them all. Now I’d like to slow down, put a little more elbow grease into what I do, and maybe just craft something that’s really something. My projects for now consist of a poetry collection, and a general fiction novel set on the Oregon Coast. I can’t say when these books will be ready for publication, but you’ll know where to find them when they finally are. :)
Until then, thank you to the people who have read all my books, have sworn they’re not as bad as I think, and have encouraged me to keep going, keep learning, keep experimenting, keep having fun. It means the world to me.