The Island of Misfit Authors

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.

4 thoughts on “The Island of Misfit Authors

  1. I will soon be embarking on the self-publishing journey. I wish you all the luck. “They” say the key is in book reviews and promoting. No one can sell our creations better than we can. Good luck!

  2. I decided to self publish via smashwords and amazon for ebook and createspace for paperback because of a few reasons. First, I am not an established author and found great difficulty finding an interested agent. Secondly, I didn’t want to conform to many of the genre rules that you speak of above. The main character in my first novel is 22 years old, but I feel the story appeals more to young adults and I was told my age was all wrong. I write romantic suspense but did not wish to get too “steamy” as so many authors do now a days. I am young and contemporary (30) but don’t feel comfortable promoting inappropriate behavior in young adults, also I am a Christian and write from a Christian worldview but don’t necessarily make my stories all about that. Not that I wouldn’t like to, I just don’t quite feel experienced enough and want to ensure my readers get the right message, I feel a responsibility for what I write and need to be able to portray the message accurately. I think you will be just fine self publishing, the hardest part I am encountering is marketing and promotion. That in itself seems to be a fulltime job but i am diligently working at it!

  3. Not sure if my other comment posted! I am a self pub author who found it very difficult to acquire a lit. agent. I write Romantic Suspense but felt I didn’t want to conform to genre rules. I didn’t want to make it too “steamy” as so many authors do and I also felt that my novel appealed more to young adults even though the MC is 22. I am Christian and write from a Christian worldview but you wouldn’t call my fiction “Christian Fiction”. The hardest part I am finding is the promoting and marketing. Aside from people that know me, I have to find ways to reach a wider base of readers and am working diligently on that everyday. I am sure you will be fine going this route and you will have more control over your content! Good luck!

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