Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Confessions of a Self-Published Author by Christine Porter

Today I hand over my blog to author Christine Porter, a fellow South African author. Welcome, Christine, and take it away!

I’m Christine Porter, and I’m a self-published author.

Four years ago, I would rather have lived on in unpublished obscurity than type those words. Self-publish? Heck no! That’s for people who are kidding themselves. People who lack the talent and skill to land a publisher.

Like many authors, I needed that pat on the back from a professional – someone whose job it is to recognise good writing – to know that my work was worth publishing. Writers tend to be solitary creatures riddled with self-doubt, and I believe many of us shy away from self-publishing because of it. If a publisher doesn’t want us, we must not be good enough.

My distaste for self-publishing is still shared by many, but with self-published books such as The Martian and The Hunger Games trilogy going as far as film adaptations, it’s certainly no longer a form of publishing that can be poo-pooed. Those titles – and many others – are well-written, well-edited and well-produced. They are a far cry from the vanity presses of a decade ago.

My own decision to self-publish came only after Peril Beyond the Waterfall was published electronically in 2011. I was suddenly shackled, not even free to market as I wished. The fact that there was no print version rankled a fair amount too.

I’m not slamming the publisher at all – they did everything that could be expected of a big publisher dealing with a completely unknown author in a completely unknown medium. The book actually sold. I was featured in a couple of publications and scraped in a review or two, but I’ve never been happy at the bottom of the priority list, so when I finally finished my second book, I knew the route I had to take.

I regained my rights from the publisher with very little fuss, and have reproduced and re-released the Peril Beyond the Waterfall that I wanted, with the cover I wanted, and the illustrations I wanted in print. I love this version of Peril. I resented the former.

The decision to self-publish spelled freedom. It’s been an absolute joy working on the project, and meeting like-minded writer types who have walked the same path. It’s far from easy. Every aspect of the book has to be considered, and you don’t have a publisher to think about things for you. You have to take ownership of the entire project and ensure that the quality is high, otherwise you really are no better than vanity-published.

I’m not sure I’m entirely past my distaste for self-publishing. I still feel it’s necessary that people know that I had a publisher, and chose self-publishing despite this. To me, it lends legitimacy. It must also be said that I would not have been able to self-publish four years ago. It takes a significant up-front financial investment, and back then I simply would not have been able to carry the costs. That is why publishers exist. That is where their value lies. In my case, though? I’m enjoying this independent ride much too much to stick my wrists back into the shackles any time soon.

My next title, Night of the Cologoro, is the first that I will be producing entirely independently. The experience I’ve gained and connections I’ve made help immensely. There’s a whole support structure that I didn’t have four years ago. It’s hard work. It really is. But I love it, and I’m excited, and I am going to make it work. Watch me.

Buy your copy of Peril Beyond the Waterfall at Ereads, Amazon, or in print.

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