This week I launched We Are Fallingwater, my first self-published book. Why self-publish?
I’ve released six books with Dreamspinner Press since 2012, and have two more coming in 2017. The team at Dreamspinner has been great to work with—especially Andi, my terrific Senior Editor. They took a chance with a completely novice author and published Frat House Troopers, and they’ve seen it through audiobook and now graphic novel formats. I have no complaints, and would recommend them to anyone looking for a top-flight publisher of MM romance.
But there are some compelling reasons why I’ve decided to self-publish, and I wanted to share them in case any other authors are out there considering the same.
I’ve decided I’m genre-fluid.
In writing We Are Fallingwater, I’m moving from writing about what I know (straight-to-gay and gay-for-you) to what I’m not sure I can do (bisexual MMF romance that’s male-focused but not dismissive of the female experience). See, that’s a mouthful just to say.
Dreamspinner, though, is clear that they are a MM romance house, with no MMF allowed. Which is fine—they have every right to stick with what has worked so well for them. But I wanted to try something new, so it was time to pursue a new avenue.
I’m a control freak.
Self-publishing seemed like a worthwhile challenge. My day job is in content development on a design-focused team, so I’m familiar with design and production. I use Scrivener for writing, and it can output to Kindle format with a couple of clicks (well, a few more than a couple the first time, but it doesn’t take long to work out the kinks). GIMP is free, and drawing on my experience with Photoshop, I’ve learned what I need to do for cover design. Apple’s Pages was all I needed for creating the We Are Fallingwater media kit.And Amazon has amazing tools for self-publishing—the Kindle ecosystem can do just about anything a self-published author needs to do (and few things I never imagined doing!).
It’s immensely satisfying to see that Amazon detail page and know I’ve managed the entire process.
Self-publishing doesn’t mean I do it all myself.
I spent nearly a decade as a tenured professor of English. So my prose is generally pretty solid, from a technical perspective. And yet if you were to read my first-draft manuscript, you’d wonder how I managed to fake my way through a PhD program.
That’s why every writer needs an excellent editor.
I was lucky enough to have an excellent editor come to me. Ben Renki, who edited We Are Fallingwater, sent me an email several years ago simply letting me know that he enjoyed my writing. We corresponded a bit, and he stepped up to be my first reader for everything I would eventually submit to Dreamspinner. He is one of those rare readers who can sort all of the details while making perceptive and subtle observations about the highest level of the narrative. I have come to trust his judgment implicitly.
When I first considered self-publishing, I immediately asked him if he would be interested in becoming my for-real editor. He jumped right in with me, and I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish together.
A key factor in self-publishing, then, is to be aware of what you can do, and what you need some help doing.
Would I do it again? I already am
It’s been a lot of fun to self-publish, and though the jury is out on whether anyone will actually buy We Are Fallingwater, I’m glad I did it. I’m already working on the next novel I’m going to self-publish, and it should be ready to go in a couple of weeks. Like Fallingwater, it’s a book that didn’t really fit in Dreamspinner’s wheelhouse—just between us, it was a little too dirty for them. But I’m not one to hide my smut under a bushel, so you’ll have a chance to read it soon.
Thanks, dear reader, for coming on this adventure with me. There’s more fun ahead.