The Evolution of Self-Publishing And Why You Should Keep At It

time enough at lastSometimes the self-publishing game can be quite discouraging.

We write a mediocre novel, give it to beta readers, focus groups, writing groups, and make it better.  We take some writing courses, improve our skills, then write something else entirely different.  We set our own deadlines.  We break our own deadlines.  We have to do all of our own publicity unless we pay a lot of money to hire someone.

And then we only sell 10 books in a month.

Let’s face it.  Being an indie publisher is really really hard.  It seems that every person and their dog, cat and fish are writing a novel these days.  The reasons are that everyone thinks that their idea is so great that if they put it in front of a possible audience (or just uploaded it to Kindle) that it would be an instant best seller.


When this game began and we saw the rise of the self-published novel, many of the big name publishers began to close their doors because so many books were being downloaded online.  Brick and mortar book stores had to change their approach to selling books or close.  Along the wayside fell Borders and some others.  But now there are a massive glut of novels out there and a great majority of them are horribly written or edited drivel.

There is a sea of self-published books out there.  This sea is more like an ocean and that ocean covers the surface of about a billion worlds.  When you publish your new tome, it barely makes a splash much less a ripple in this vast multi-world ocean.

So why not hang it up?

God knows I’ve thought about it.

I do a lot of things to try to get the word out about my books, to help them make a bigger splash.  I do a writing podcast with my friend Ryan McKinley entitled Fanboys on Fiction.  I write this blog.  I have over 1300 Twitter followers.  I tweet out tips on writing and publishing daily (and whatever articles I find fascinating).  I engage when I can, but should probably do better at that but then there is time (I have a day job and four children).  I’m on all the other social media hangouts and I try to stay active on them.

And for what?

I sold about 10 copies of my new novel since it released last month.  Bummer, dude.

I plan to spend a little dough on advertising soon, but am not sure if that will make any splashes.  I will spend the next few months re-evaluating my strategy of reaching more readers.  Hopefully these plans will work.

However, I will not quit writing.  I will keep at it.  You may think that I’m nuts, but the reason I keep at it is because I enjoy writing and publishing books.  I enjoy getting reviews on Amazon good or bad, and I enjoy seeing how I can improve my writing for future publications.  I will continue on.  I have a series to finish and that’s at least 5 more books.  One of them has to click.

So I encourage you, dear writer, to keep working.  Keep writing and publishing.  You may not see the fruits of your labor this year or the next, but one day perhaps you can get a little bump in sales and that will make you happier.  However, that is not the reason I am doing this.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

16 thoughts on “The Evolution of Self-Publishing And Why You Should Keep At It

  1. Fishing is my passion, writing is my hobby, but they are quickly evening out mostly thanks to you and your podcast with Ryan! I’m writing with a fever I’ve never experienced before and loving every minute. I know it won’t stay like this for good but I’m riding the train as far as it’ll take me as well as hungrily awaiting your next blog or podcast. To put this in a relatable fishing term I’ll quote a little known fisherman from back in 2003 named, Mike Iaconelli. He refused to quit when he was behind the leader on the last day of the tournament and in the final minutes before he had to leave for the weigh in, finally caught a fish the size he needed to win the championship. Upon grabbing the bass he turned to the cameraman and screamed, “Never Give Up!” That fish changed his life forever and he is now one of the more recognized guys in the sport. Just as Mike inspires me in my fishing, Roger you are inspiring me in my writing. Never give up!

  2. I miss those pre-tech boom days when I was able to blame my lack of writing success on “The Man,” that mysterious figure hellbent on keeping me down because of my lack of connections.

    Now it’s just the guy in the mirror holding me back. Thanks a lot, technology!

  3. Self publishing brings a whole new meaning to the words ‘patience and perseverance’ , but I won’t quit. Having far too much fun to worry about little things like reviews and sales. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

  4. Reblogged this on Beyond the Precipice and commented:
    My word for it is swamp. You struggle with the vines, unseen in the endless murk, hoping to surface enough to catch a ray of sunshine.

    Roger Colby, independent author, English teacher, and father of four, uses kinder terminology such as “sea” and “ocean” to describe the glut of books, many of them self-published, hitting the market and making it harder than ever for authors to get noticed.

    For an independent author, the book process can quickly grow into a black hole. Energy goes in but nothing comes back. For this reason, I have redefined my goals and taken back the joy of writing, keeping well clear of that black hole’s gravity.

    Here is Roger Colby’s wonderful article on “The Evolution of Self-Publishing And Why You Should Keep At It”:

  5. Good for you. I’m gonna keep going, too. I love reading my own words in print 🙂 and designing the covers etc. It’s like childhood all over a again.

    One thing we sometimes miss is that even the big publishing houses put out crappy books, badly written books and not so great covers. We act as though the men and women judging what to sell are gods and always in the know when a lot of times it’s just that they know crap sells if marketed right. Obviously there are poorly written indie books and we don’t always have the budget to get the TOP editors on board, but how many times in the arts do the movers and shakers get it wrong? Lots of times. Sure I’d like to hand off the marketing and proofreading to someone else someday, but until then I try to remind myself of the millions spent on books and movies that were flops.

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