Yesterday I finally got up the courage to publicly announce that I was going the self-publishing route. I gave several reasons for my irrationality. Then after I finished my blog, I thought of some more. Here’s a specific one that comes to mind.
Publishers tend to be married to specific audiences. They produce magazines and books that appeal to those audiences. Marketing works best this way, and when you have a product that doesn’t seem to fit the tried-and-true approach to pleasing this specific audience, it’s usually rejected. And that’s fair. It’s kind of going to an auto parts store to buy groceries. You find great spark plugs there, but you’ll have a hard time if you’re trying to buy lettuce. Or sell it.
I’ve had relative success with the Adventist Book Center market, and many of the books I have written have been directed at readers within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Other Christian writers find their niche either within a specific denomination or in the general Christian market. But because of limited shelf space, and more importantly, the typical customer they expect to enter the doors of a Christian bookstore, Christian publishers will reject good, even excellent books, that don’t easily fit within a category of expectation.
Enter misfit authors like me, who are satisfied to write books that fall safely within categories, but are often–too often–writing books that are hybrids. There’s a lot more creativity involved in writing a Christian book about vampires, or a novel that’s half-western, half-steampunk. And it’s a lot more fun. The problem comes when you try to sell it.
And that’s what’s great about the age of the online bookstore and social network. You use the former to provide a place for your audience of readers to buy your book, and you use the latter to build your audience. Online bookstores have unlimited shelf space for authors who want to try the different, the unusual, the odd. And social networks are unlimited in potential audiences to visit those bookstores.
Once again, it all sounds good in theory. But there are also several success stories out there as well. If you have one to share, please post it here, or link it to me.
Again, I’ll keep you posted.