Hadn’t heard about Hugh Howey until last week, when Jeff Carver mentioned his success as a self-publisher of speculative fiction. Now he’s written this piece for Salon, which encapsulates a lot of what I think about self-publishing in the ebook world.
With self-publishing, you learn your craft while producing material. You win over your fans directly. You own all of your rights, and your works stay fresh and available for your lifetime (and beyond). Nothing goes out of print. I think this advantage is difficult to fully appreciate. My bestselling work was my eighth or ninth title. As soon as it took off, the rest of my material took off with it. To the reader, it was all brand-new. To those being born today who will become avid readers 15 years from now, those works will still be brand-new. My entire oeuvre will always be in print and always earning me something. Nothing is pulled and returned from the digital bookshelf.
For me, one of the main motivations for entering the ebook world was getting my previously published novels, long out of print, back out onto the market. But even if you haven’t been in print before, self-publishing ebooks really does seem to be the way to go. You may not be successful, but most print authors aren’t successful — I can’t say that I have been particularly successful. At least the books are out there, available to anyone and everyone. And you have a chance of finding an audience, the way Hugh Howey did. And even if you don’t become rich, you’re likely to get more feedback from your readers than most print authors ever get. Here’s a sample of reader reviews of my books in the past few weeks:
On Summit (four stars)
The beginning is a bit confusing but it becomes clear as you go along. I enjoyed this piece of fiction. Valentina and Daniel made very good heroes.
On Dover Beach (five stars):
One of the best scifi books I’ve read in a long time. . . . you’re right there, experiencing everything along with the characters and can’t wait to see what happens next… more please!!
On Senator (five stars):
Kept you guessing til end, lots of twist and turns. Better yet was the way he writes about politics in Washington, where lies are told til they believe they are the truth.
Praise like that is better than money. And I like money!