Never Say Never Self-Publish
by LT Kodzo
(Rock Springs, WY)
Locker 572, a YA novel about bullying and suicide
Swore I'd never do it. Would never self-publish.
I was 100% in the same camp about self-published books. I swore (with my hand in the air and everything) that I would never self-publish.
I got my degree in English. I attended workshops and polished my craft to the point that I began to get high praise by published authors, editors and agents.
The big problem was, YA contemporary novel wasn't what they were looking for.
When the book finaled in a contest, I was willing to sit for the first time with a self-publisher. When I signed the contract, I realized that the dream I'd had since I was a 10-year girl, sitting crosslegged in the library all summer reading books, was about to come true. An actual book that I wrote was going to be in print.
I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to jump for joy. I wanted to call someone and say, "Hey guess what!!" And then it hit me. Who would I call? I had not been invited to the dance; in fact I paid my way into the prom.
I was disappointed. It wasn't until I spoke to a well-known traditonally published author (who had really liked my work) about what I'd done that he gave me clarity. He said, "In today's world, you've made a business decision. You're writing is high enough quality to be published. You'll just have to do all the marketing yourself."
I nodded. Then he added, "And to be honest, in today's world, you kind of have to do that with traditionally published books anyway."
So, I felt better and got to work.
My novel, LOCKER 572, is about bullying and suicide. So while the self-publishing company and I worked on edits/proofing/covers/formats/trailers (the whole package), I started to call schools.
What was great about maintaining my own copyright is that I was able to send free PDF samples to schools for them to review.
By the time the book was released, I had my first big sale, thanks to a few hundred cold calls. (Yes marketing is work.) A school in my neighborhood bought 1,000 copies for all the students.
It was amazing.
A few other districts bought groups of 500. My novel won a contest. And I began to speak in various venues around the US.
The greatest praise came from the suicide prevention director for the state of NY, who gave it a rave review on Amazon (no, she'S not related to me).
In the end, my book continues to have consistant sales numbers. I continue to market it with postcards and appearances. I'm very glad I overcame my own bigotry about self-published books.
Every dollar I've spenT has been worth it if I can prevent one child from making the irreversible decision of suicide.
On a side note. I have since Indie Published (did it myself without a self-publisher) seven other books and have another novel out on WattPad and WriteOn to read for free. I would recommend to anyone considering this path to not bypass the most critical elements of success:
1. Study the craft. Know what a well-written book looks like.
2. Unless you have a degree in art or graphic design, hire someone to do your covers.
3. Have beta readers (not friends and family) confirm the quality of the book.
4. Once you put it out into the world, work hard to get it known (like I did for Locker 572) or set little to no expectation for sales (like I did for Dead Things), then keep writing.
5. In the end, write because you have to (are driven to), not because you want to. Writing is the least likely avenue to achieve fame and fortune.
Thanks for the forum to speak.