Below is a brief explanation of my rationale for self-publishing the first Dinosaur Territory book, which will—hopefully!—be available next month (Feb. 2015).
About three years ago, I started writing the story; and about a year and a half ago, I finished it to the point where I thought it was ready for lit agents to review. Over the course of the next year, I submitted the story (or various parts of it) to about ten agents. My list came from googling something like “best lit agents for middle grade fiction”. Of those agents, a handful got back in touch and one gave me some helpful feedback. Ultimately, though, no one offered to represent me.
I then did some more research on the publishing business. From what I found, publishers and agents (even those interested in new authors) are looking for writers who are established in some way—be it with a previously published work, a popular blog, or a self-published title. This is completely understandable from their perspective. If you can spend your energy on a new author with a solid fan base on Smashwords (of whom there are many), why would you spend any energy on a new author without that kind of record? With any luck, using the latest tools of self-publishing, I will create that record for Dinosaur Territory. That’s the primary answer to the question above.
Through this process, though, I found out some other things about self-publishing. Most notable is that I like it. It’s challenging, interesting, and very hands on. I’ve had to do a lot of research about self-publishing perils and pitfalls. I’ve also had to spend a lot more energy on my text by writing, proofreading, editing and so on—which is why it’s taken me so long to self-publish since my first draft. Another thing it’s taught me is that I can’t be shy about my work. I have to ask for advice from friends and family to move forward. Because of this, I’m extremely glad I’ve taken the self-publishing route. It’s given me a much better understanding of the publishing industry as a whole. Plus, I think it’s made me a better writer.