I am a neophyte when it comes to self-publishing. As I type this I am slowly preparing to self-publish my first novel, a thriller entitled This Little Piggy Belongs to the Devil. I have to admit, when I took a break from This Little Piggy in February (when I completed the third draft) I expected to take a more conventional approach. Going it alone, being the one person responsible for every aspect of the life of my book, terrified me. A lot of research and a conversation with someone I consider the most level headed sibling on the planet helped assuage those multiple xanax moments. The final decider ( I'm pretty sure I got there on my own but lets blame the literary agent) came when I opened one particular SASE, unfolded my query letter and watched a crudely cut, one inch strip of paper flutter to the table. On it was inscribed one sentence ("Does not meet our list requirements.") followed by the agency name. I remembered this agency. They demanded a complex set of submission requirements (14 pt. type, self-sealing return envelopes, etcetera) and I complied with all of them. That ragged piece of paper staring up at me from the dining room table irked me. I'd spent a lot of time on that query letter (and a lot more time on the novel!) and I didn't even rate a whole letter response. On two previous occasions, I received rejections printed on the back of business cards. While that might have been just as insulting, at least I had something to pass around at the bar. It was good for a few laughs.
There are a number of really good reasons to self-publish. We are no longer in the day of vanity presses and the negative connotations ascribed to them. Computer technology has opened a wealth of opportunity for the publishing industry. I've read, in other blogs, that Literary Agents (some, anyway) have taken to publishing their clients' books (some of them, anyway) on their own. The proliferation of ebook readers (Kindle, Nook...) have made acquiring books and libraries cheap, easy and instantaneous. That same technology allows publishers and self-publishers to produce quality product cheaply and quickly. I had to ask, why shouldn't writers get in on the ground floor. My answer? This Little Piggy... will be available to the public in November as an ebook and as a print-on-demand (POD) paperback. The distribution network will place it on Amazon.com (and other vitual stores), some physical bookstores and libraries throughout the country.
Maybe the best reason, however, arrived by .pdf late last night. I recieved the mock up of the first chapter. Let me tell you, seeing that title page (with my name underneath) and the copyright page (with my name) and my words formatted to a 5.25 by 8 inch trim size provided some serious juice for the ego. Some years ago, I directed one of my plays (Ice Age) at a small theater in NYC. The actors were perfect but the technical side lagged way behind. My scenic director, who had been paid in advance, kept saying not to worry but I wasn't seeing a set. On the evening of the technical rehearsal, I arrived at the theater with a bag of tools and a plan to stay on that stage until the job was done. When I opened the stage door, I was greeted by the most cacaphonous scene imaginable. Wires were strewn everywhere. Lights were being rehung. Sound levels were being adjusted. Actors, already in make-up, were doing vocal exercises and my scenic designer was on his knees adding gold gilt to a fireplace that hadn't existed the night before. It was a perfect mess and nothing felt so good or so right. When I opened that .pdf file, at 11:30 last night, it was that same type of WOW!; the file isn't perfect - there's is a lot of work ahead - but the book is real; it is coming together. And...it feels so right.