EccentricCowboy’s questions about self-publishing

A little while ago I got this message from EccentricCowboy (aka Austen Confer) on Deviantart. Austen writes weird westerns, and he wants to know about self- versus traditional publishing.

EC: Hello there! Jumping kind of out of the blue here but I’m hoping you might be able to lend me a bit of assistance. You might remember a good while back how I wrote a review of your book Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen…was wondering if you might be able to give me some advice. I too am in the writing business, but as a self-proclaimed humble introvert, I’m not the best at garnering attention. I’d love to get some advice and ideas on how to better get my stuff out there…

Me: Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen taught me that I like writing, but not publishing or promoting, which means the traditional agent/publisher path is better for me. If you like the business side of writing, then self-publishing might work for you, although even so I’d suggest paying other people to do things for you, rather than attempting to do everything yourself.

EC: I would infinitely prefer to have someone else market everything.

Me: One way to get someone else to market everything is to leverage yourself — take the proceeds from sales of book A and invest them in a publicist for book B. Now you have more sales and you pump them into more people to support book C and so on.

The other route is to find an agent. Convince them that you’re a good investment (i.e. you write good) and they will help you improve your books and sell them to publishers. 

I went the second route, and I’m very happy with my agent‘s work on my behalf. Might I have made more progress if I’d tried to leverage myself? Maybe, but then again, I might have made less. There’s a significant part that luck plays here.

In the end, you have to just have faith in yourself that you’re getting something out of writing, and faith in the industry that someone else is going to get something out of your writing. After that, it’s just a matter of time.

Tune in next week for questions from Eccentric Cowboy about traditional publishing and agents. In the mean time, check out his blog.

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