dWhy did you self-publish this series—especially since you’ve had books published by ‘traditional’ publishers in the past?
This is a question most frequently asked at cocktail parties and big gatherings, usually by published literary writers, and usually with a look of peevish disdain and disapproval. Well, I had no choice. I have been published by traditional publishers, and I did seek the traditional path with Hard Cider—starting with a lengthy canvassing of literary agents. Unfortunately my timing was dreadful, querying my faith-based novel series just as the Church’s pedophilia scandal decided to erupt yet again. Long story short, the very few agents who actually responded to me felt compelled to point out the bad press the Catholic Church was getting. They could not imagine such a book selling in such a climate, and of course for agents and publishers it’s all about money. So I knew I’d have to self-publish. I had a hunch that despite scandals and bad publicity, there was a definite audience for my work; and thankfully, it turns out I was right. It seems to be a gradually growing readership, but it does keep growing and hasn’t nose-dived yet, so I must be doing something right.
Now I’ve been self-publishing since 2011, having had some limited success with a historical young adult series I wrote, but I really don’t like doing it, to be honest. It involves a lot of work that is not writing, as well as copious amounts of self-promotion, which I HATE, and a certain amount of skill and research to make it all work the way it’s supposed to. Generally it does not work well for my kind of book, which deals with faith and edges toward the literary; well-defined hard-core genres such as science fiction and romance do amazingly well. Mystery is a bit of a mixed bag: the thrillers, if well-written and well produced, do very well for their authors; the cozy mysteries (which alas, is my Amazon-designated category, even though it really doesn’t belong there; I think anything without excessive sex or violence gets automatically dumped in there) seem to do a little less well, and quirkier, literary stuff just drops off the sales algorithm. So I’m walking the tightrope here, writing what I hope is high-quality fiction, while staying within the strictures of my chosen genre. I relaxed a lot after the first book, when I realized all I had to do was tell the story, and not worry about perfect sentences, literary allusions or any of the other bunk you pick up at writers’ workshops. I don’t get a lot of reviews and the ones that come in are all over the place, from hate-filled one stars to glowing and loving constellations, and a lot of in-between, but I like this, because I feel it’s honest and authentic, and helps prospective readers decide if they want to take a chance on my book.
One of the more painful aspects of self-publishing is that it is still largely reviled by the media, libraries, academia and by traditionally published authors, although this is abating somewhat, as overall quality improves among us 'independents.' However, it has become massively harder to self-publish, as the competition is incredibly fierce for visibility on the biggest player, Amazon. The best formula seems to be: Write a good, good book