Cyndy Aleo

Four Little Bees Writing & Editing

author, freelance writing, editing, and a little bit of web development, helping clients with content development, book editing, and blog set-up and customization

The self-publishing aura of fail

I’m going to start this post off with a disclaimer.

I find EvilWylie hilarious. We chat occasionally. His parody of Fifty Shames of Grey (Fifty Shames of Earl Grey) is one of the most hysterical things I’ve ever read and I’m proud as hell that I still own (I think) the most popular Amazon review of it. The thread that prompted this post did not offend me in the slightest. But I still felt compelled to comment on it, because let’s face it; self-publishing still has an aura of fail.

The thread on Twitter can mostly be found under the hashtag #honestauthorselfpromo and was prompted by this post on HuffPo.

I read the post on HuffPo and groaned. GROANED. I knew exactly how it was going to play out after I read it, and wasn’t disappointed in my expectations.

Which sucks.

Everyone comes to the place of self-publishing in a different manner. And yes, there are a LOT of us who got here because we didn’t get representation. Or we didn’t get picked up on submission.

And that’s life. But posting the whole “I’m so bitter about trade publishing that I am going to SHOW EVERYONE (please buy my books)” message alienates people and tends to be the bad apple in the barrel: everything else is suspect.

I don’t hide the fact that I queried, and that I queried widely. No, I did not get representation. I received some great rejections and a couple of truly terrible ones (one of which led to what I think is a much better novel than the one I queried with). But the longer I queried and the more I got rejections and the more I watched the market and what was trending, I realized where I was headed.

Other than agents, I only ever queried one small press, and it was only because I really respected one of the editors there. Even when I did that, however, I knew it wasn’t going to be picked up for the exact reason I decided to self-publish: My book doesn’t fit anywhere.

I have a tendency to write so far off the curve of a trend that I can’t see the trend from my spaceship. In a climate where erotica and romance are huge, I tend to write without a lot of sex and a missing romance arc. You might be able to skew it as women’s fiction, but I have essentially a male MC, and my book has none of the usual conventions of women’s fiction. It’s not really a mystery, definitely not a thriller, and if you were to give me a huge box and send me into a Barnes & Noble and say “Put it anywhere,” I’d be hard-pressed to find the right sign at the top of a shelf.

That makes it hard to market. And I could nod along with rejections that didn’t know what to do with it or how to sell it. This is a climate where you NEED to know what to do with it.

So I was left with two options: let it sit there forever and hope the market turned around, or do something with it.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought maybe I’m NOT cut out for trade publication. Let’s face it; I’m a pretty blunt individual. I’m not going to be able to play nice and pretend I LOVE a book that’s alongside mine at my imprint just because we share the same editor. I lack a poker face altogether. I accept and acknowledge that I’m a marketing disaster.

And.. I needed to supplement my income. I could try to find a home with a small press, but the reality is I don’t fit very well there either, and let’s face it; I can do all my own marketing and all my own tech work and keep all my own money without having to share it with a press.

Honest Author Promo: I’m doing it for the cold, hard cash.

I don’t expect I’m going to be some breakout success. I don’t expect my tiny little book is going to show all those agents who didn’t offer representation how AMAZING I am. I have exactly zero plans to get rich and famous here.

What I DO hope is that I can maybe get close enough to paying some of the ridiculous expenses my kids have this fall with a little book that was doing nothing but taking up space on my hard drive. There are people who inexplicably want to read this book (which thrills me to bits) and if that number isn’t in the tens of thousands, that’s okay.

How’s that for an honest author promo?

And did I mention Petey’s tap shoes are $64.00? Plus tax? And let’s not talk about the ballet shoes. Or the $12 she and her sister tend to go through like tissues. So if you’d like, you can buy my book on Amazon. Or, if you have Prime, you can even borrow it for free! I’m great with that, too.