Self Publishing ... Without a Clue

Artwork inspired by Rumpled, from my sister Krystl.

Like almost any author in today’s literary landscape, I’ve explored the idea of self-publishing. Although I used to scoff at it, I’ve softened toward the idea over the last several years — not because of one-in-a-million success stories like Eragon and 50 Shades of Gray, but because I, like many writers, am feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the consolidation of big publishing houses and fewer and fewer people holding all the cards when it comes to traditional publishing. And now that we have the option to go directly to the reader … why don’t we?

Back when I was a teenager, I established quite a following as an author of Aladdin fan-fiction, and my one piece of Gargoyles fan-fiction didn’t do too badly, either. At the time, I was so excited by the ability the Internet gave me to reach readers directly — as far as I was concerned, it was just as good as being published. Because the whole point in being published is in having readers, right? Maybe even fans. And I had readers, many of whom became fans.

Now, publishing seems to be following that content model more and more, and I’m going to experiment with it again, too. Still, there are two obstacles (besides my own pride and the feeling of “legitimacy” that come with traditional publishing) that scare me most:

  1. The fact that self-published work isn’t taken as seriously as traditionally published work; and
  2. The fact that I hate marketing, even when I really, really love what I’m marketing.

As for #1, I admit that I’m one of those people who doesn’t take a self-published book as seriously as a traditionally published one. And the main reason for this is that I’ve read so many really bad self-published books, books that felt like early drafts rather than finished ones. But I feel fairly confident in my ability to create a polished product — and I know that, especially with ebooks, there are a lot of readers who don’t know or care which books are self-published and which aren’t. I know there are a lot of readers willing to take a chance on an ebook by an unknown author because the price is right.

As for #2, well, I don’t really have a plan for that.

But I’ve decided to explore self-publishing in ebook format with my novella Rumpled, which is a retelling of Rumplestiltskin. The reason is because it’s an awkward length to submit to short story or to novel markets at about 24,000 words, and there are few dedicated novella markets. And although I’ve always loved fairy tale retellings, it seems now the rest of the world is getting on board with this passion, as evidenced by the proliferation of young adult retellings featuring everything from Cyborg Cinderellas to werewolf-hunting Red Riding Hoods, not to mention TV series like Grimm and Once Upon a Time, or movies like Snow White and the Huntsman, Mirror, Mirror, or Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

So if ever there was a time to encourage people to take a chance on an unknown writer with a retelling of a fairy tale, now seems like the time to do it.

If anyone knows of good resources for self-publishing or promoting ebooks, I’d love to explore them. Thanks!