Defying the Self-Publishing Gurus

This is a bit of a followup of yesterday’s post, trying to pull together all the threads of how I’m approaching self-publishing.

I’m a maverick. I’ve been a maverick from early childhood, from the first time someone told me to do something that made no sense, and I said NO. I have to do things my own way, even if I suffer for it, so I’ve learned to accept the consequences of my own actions or inactions. In the runup to publishing my first novel, I’ve naturally been doing a lot of self-examination, trying to figure out how much being a maverick is going to help or hurt me as a writer. The truth is, I don’t know, and won’t know until I have at least two or three novels out there. That’s the long-term. For the short-term, the publication of Hidden Boundaries should provide some indications of whether I’m on the right track or completely off the track.

The three fundamental facts about what I’ve been doing: 1. I’ve ignored the near-mandatory social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and have had a minimal and usually brief presence on forums where writers get together. 2. Instead of socializing, I’ve posted early drafts of my fiction online where it can be read. 3. I’m writing books that, for the most part, don’t fit in any particular genre, or meet the average reader’s expectations for the particular subject matter.

So, the question is open: Is it possible to defy the self-publishing gurus and win? Either way, I’ll have had an interesting life. How many people can say that?

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6 thoughts on “Defying the Self-Publishing Gurus

  1. I’m also a notorious maverick…

    Your points are interesting when I compare them to what I’ve been doing.

    #1: I tried FaceBook and Twitter for months and found that point #3 made what I was doing incapable of being heard. I still post to both but, at most twice a day. I visit one particular writers’ forum (BestsellerBound) occasionally…

    #2: I’m not a great solializer but I have tried to make my blog (the “hub” of my promotion efforts) a place where readers and I can form meaningful relationships. As far as posting my writing, I have been and will continue to give my books away, even when they’re available for purchase. Joe Konrath and Cory Doctorow have taught me about how “free” can help sales…

    #3: I also feel my books aren’t easily put in particular genres. The one I’ll be self-publishing in May could be (and probably will be) considered by most folks as Sci-Fi. I wasn’t really sure what genre it was until a writer I work with in the virtual world, Second Life, called it a Documentary Novel–I like that 🙂

  2. Speaking of being heard – the noise to signal ratio on Facebook and Twitter is such, that unless you already have something of a following, you’re in competition with millions of others for attention. Writers need to focus their efforts — go where the readers are most likely to be found.

    I tried Bestsellerbound (on your recommendation, by the way) and found that pretty much of nothing was going on there. I agree about blogging. It can be the single best way to reach potential readers. Writing reviews on Goodreads may also be helpful, though I haven’t done enough yet to be sure.

  3. Define win, my friend.

    Is winning publication? Is it fame and fortune? Or is that little smile that comes when YOU are satisfed with the finished product?

    I agree with both of you on the networking. Big waste of time. Just yesterday a friend of mine tried to hold a book club meeting, but after about 4 responses, the comments veered off subject and turned into inane chatter and goofy pics. What I flub!

  4. I don’t really think in terms of winning or losing because they’re always relative to something.For me, just getting to the point where I have a completed novel, a couple more close to completion, and several more in the works, is a fantastic win. I’m not aiming for bestsellerdom, so a steady trickle of sales once I have more than one book out there, would also be a win. More than that would be icing on the cake. But it would also be a win to go head to head with the “experts” and find a measure of success.

  5. Yes, I think you can go off the beaten trail and still win. I know that those gurus might cringe at seeing me say that, but really, no one knows what will work. You can only experiment and try all the different options.

    I’m doing Twitter, but I can already see that I’m only reaching other writers and they aren’t really listening to anything I have to say because they have so much already to listen to. (Perhaps I’m just not cool enough?) I can only imagine that Facebook would be the exact same, so I’m not relying on either alone.

  6. I see Facebook as being the most useful for writers who already have an audience, but it’s more for socializing than for getting new readers. Otherwise, you’re trawling in an awfully big fish pond. Twitter seems more focused, but I think you’re right, from what I’ve seen. As a writer, you attract other writers.

    I’ve also run across several posts lately, by published writers with experience, and they say that your blog and/or website are the most important, not the social networks.

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