When you are a new writer, making the decision to self-publish or find a publisher to take your work, is an important one. I had a book. I thought the story was a good one, but the genre I chose to write in placed limits on where I could look for help. I didn’t feel able to do it on my own so I asked around and did some research to check out the publishers who took books in the mm romance genre. Top of my list was Samhain publishing, and even though I was told they took only five percent of the books. I submitted my story. They turned me down.
I did some more research, and more work on the book and sent it off again this time to Totally Bound. Thinking back, I’m not sure why I chose them next, but they were British, and that was one of the things that drew me towards them. They took a chance on a new writer, and so began the steep learning curve of producing the final product. My editor, Faith Bicknell-Brown, taught me a lot. In hindsight, I’m still amazed they took my story, so rough and ready was it on submission. They gave me a lovely cover, a finished product which I could hold in my hands, and help with publicity. Since then, they have taken most of my other submissions. Do I worry about having all my books with one publisher? Yes, sometimes I do. However, I don’t want to have to deal with getting royalties from the US any more than I want to deal with all the financial aspects of self-publishing. I’m not financially stupid, and I have filled in self-assessment forms in the past, but the financial commitment up front, not to mention all the technical stuff of finding a cover, an editor, formatting and all the rest, is something I still find daunting.
At the moment, my publisher is my safety net. Maybe one day I will be brave enough, but then more publishers will disappear. I do worry how much my books cost online when I see self-published books selling for so little. I used to think nothing of buying a print paperback book for £7.99 and more, but I’ll admit to not wanting to pay more than £5 for an e-book. I have paid that much for an author I know and love, because I tell myself this is not a lot for all the hard work that has gone into producing the book. However, with pirate sites out there and such a plethora of cheaper books, I can’t help being concerned about sales. How much are people willing to pay for the work of several people? As a teacher, I probably earned somewhere around £15 an hour. It’s hard to say exactly because I didn’t work fixed hours and a teacher’s salary is for a year and simply divided by twelve. Similarly, I’ve no idea how many hours I put into writing, redrafting and editing my first book It did all right for a debut novel, but the price fluctuated. I certainly didn’t earn a fortune, and I’ve no idea if I would have earned enough to cover the costs of producing a well finished self-published product.
For now, I will continue working with publishers. Maybe I should diversify and submit elsewhere, but I’m not good at dealing with too much change, or too many ways of working. However, with what has happened to Samhain, I have decided on one thing. If a book is priced over £5, I won’t walk away without considering it. It’ll be my way of supporting the author, editor, cover designer, and publisher in the only way I can – by buying a book.