I had the good fortune to have my first four novels published conventionally through a wonderful small press (Bundoran) specializing in science fiction. All things must pass. Sadly for me, but time for the principal of Bundoran to reclaim his own writing freedom, Bundoran closed their doors in October 2020. My books reverted to me and I re-released them under my control solely as ebooks through Amazon and Kobo.
It got my feet wet in the digital publishing world and gave me impetus to evaluate various finished book projects still seeking a home with another publisher or agent. The submission-response process takes time and I write faster than many respond. Self-publishing has gained serious momentum and I decided it was time. I’d sat in on numerous panels over the years at When Words Collide on the pros (many) and cons (few). The cons were mostly from one presenter who’d self-published a number of his own books but when he started to list all the formatting software needed, it seemed daunting.
That was before the emergence of one-stop conversion shops like Draft2Digital. D2D works in partnership with the writer to convert (author supplies manuscript, cover and other small details) your documents and market the ebook through numerous online sales and lending platforms, not just Amazon and Kobo. In return, they collect a reasonable (in my opinion) percentage of your sales.
Despite the attraction of their service, was I ready to make the plunge? I evaluated the chances of finding another Bundoran, slim though there could exist another editor/publisher who aligned with my vision and style. I could continue to submit and pile up more novels-in-waiting while waiting, or get on with it. I’m relatively prolific, an advantage apparently in the ebook world, and I have a few potential series characters/worlds to revisit, another advantage. I also write compressed novels in the range of sixty to eighty thousand words, ideal for ebook readers but on the low side for conventional publishers.
I’m not a patient learner with the vagaries displayed by many online rabbit holes but I got on well with Draft2Digital, thanks to a marvellous YouTube tutorial posted by Bethany Atazadeh (there are others too). I only had to navigate back and forth a few times to get the manuscript formatting right (didn’t have a proper title page), and presto, The Fourth Vertex (Jake Nourth book 2) was in the cue to be published.
In my previous professions in the energy industry, I learned early on to take charge of my own career, rather than letting the corporation be in control. I was able to push through barriers and advance my positions from financial analyst to landman to geophysicist to independent consultant to manager, all the time keeping passionate about what I did and what I learned. I realize my writing career should be no different if I’m to maximize the satisfaction from doing something I really love. Self-publishing, so far, looks to me like the way to take and maintain charge of my art.