And so I ask the Internets…

Listening to: Fallout Boy, “Homesick at Space Camp”

I came up with an idea a few months ago. At first, I was all gung-ho. Now I’m vacillating back and forth, unable to really decide. So I thought, since it involves the Internet, I would ask the Internet. I fully welcome any and all honest opinions in the comments or, if you’re too shy, email me at krisbaxter AT gmail DOT com. Really, people, I need your help on this one.

So I have this little book that I wrote. And edited. And edited. And edited. And queried. And queried. And queried some more. And I mostly got rejections, although a few requests made me temporarily happy and hopeful–only to have the usual disappointment. And I love it, still, after all that. I really, truly do.

It’s my third novel, to be exact. I did not experience that post-editing love with either of the first two. Not…in…the…least.

And I have this domain that I bought over a year ago. I have yet to use it. I’m waiting for The Husband to be a little less busy, so he can help me with all the aspects of website creation that I don’t really get.

So I’m thinking…my list of agents to query is ever-shrinking, although I have every intention of querying each and every agent that reps my genre before I move on to another step. And that step, for the first time, might not involve trunking the novel.*

Yes, that’s right. I’m thinking about self-publishing, but on the Internet. On my own website. Essentially, the idea is that I love this book and I want people to read it, or at least give it a chance. When I think about it, I think about my protagonist Hazel, who I adore in all her snarky, sarcastic, loner glory. I love Hazel, and I want people to get to know her. It’s as simple as that.

I have a few promotional ideas in mind, mostly involving giveaways. Awesome giveaways, by the way, although I’d prefer not to get into them right now. That might draw at least a few people to the site, and that’s really all I want. I feel the expenditure on my part would be worth that. And, as it’s a YA novel, it’s more likely to draw readers due to that generation’s higher use of the Internet.

But then I think…maybe I’m deluding myself. Maybe the book isn’t all I think it is (note: I don’t think it’s spectacular or anything, and I know I can do better with my next novels, but I think it’s at least somewhat entertaining and quite readable). Or maybe I will, against all odds, eventually find success in this business, and regret this move, because the Internet is forever. Maybe in five years I’ll hate the book and wish I’d never put it out there. Maybe everyone will hate it, and I’ll get tons of horrible feedback and spiral into a pit of self-pity and depression.** What if, what if, what if.

Important Note: This would all be happening sometime around April or May. I entered the novel in question into the Golden Hearts, and so I’d wait to see if I finaled before making any serious moves. No, I don’t actuallyexpect to final, but the hope exists at least. The finalist list is, I think, release in March.

And so I ask you, Internet. What do you think? To Internet-self-publish, or not? Please, honest opinions and thoughts.

P.S. If there is some positive response, I’ll publish a short synopsis, essentially the meaty part of my query letter, in a future post. Not quite ready for that yet, though.

*Don’t worry: I continue to work on my next novel, and will go the usual query route with that, as well. I’m not solely focusing on this one novel–writing-wise, I have moved on.

**Okay, so I have more faith in myself than that, after all the rejections, which I’ve learned to handle rather well. But still, the potential is there.

13 thoughts on “And so I ask the Internets…

  1. I don’t think it’s a bad idea nor do I think it’s “giving up.” Publishing is changing and the important thing is getting your work into someone’s hands (or Kindle or laptop…). I learned a lot about self-publishing while researching an article* on it and as times change while publishing doesn’t, I think it’s a better idea all the time.

    It seems like you’ve done everything right. Why not?

    Oh and did you try the “query holiday” at Firebrand? That might be something to do just ’cause.


  2. That’s the refrain that’s been singing through my mind lately, Eden…”Why not?” And the reasons I come up with sometimes give me pause, and sometimes don’t.

    Thanks so much for the tip on Firebrand! Haven’t queried them yet on this round, so I’ll definitely be doing that!

  3. How much money are you willing to spend doing your own advertising?
    Many doors will be closed to you if you self publish.
    By using the internet, is that to say that you plan to publish and sell the books online, or do you intend to go for ebooks?
    I must admit, I’m not all that fond of ebooks.

    I feel for you.

    Have you already sent your book out to Beta readers – what were their responses?
    If you want more readers, let me know.

  4. Essentially, Lisa, I’d be publishing it for free on the Internet, on my own website. I’d only use a press geared more toward printing, like LuLu, to create hard copies for giveaways and such. I have, actually, found a website that allows you to create your own ebook, compatible with the iPhone and Kindle, I think, and set your own price and receive something like 85% of the net profit. You also keep all the rights. So that would be another option I’d look into, in order to get my novel into as many places and formats as possible.

    The “free book here” thing has worked for some people–John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow–and some publishers have been offering books online for free and finding it increases sales. However–I am not either Scalzi or Doctorow, not by a long shot, so I know the comparison is moot. Just an example, though, of how online publishing/ebooks are showing some success and gaining readers.

    I know how you feel about ebooks–personally, I prefer good ol’ paper. I’ve just reached a point where I’ve begun to think exploring other options might not be a bad idea.

    Also, could you explain the “doors closed to you” thing? Do you mean agents/editors might not be interested in future novels if I put this one out there for free? That’s another fear I have, although a lesser one than the others. I’m not sure, really, whether they would–and when it comes right down to it, I think it would probably be a matter of individual opinion for each agent/editor. I’m eager to hear someone else’s thoughts on the matter, though, because the voices in my head aren’t always right. =)

    I just might take you up on that reading offer–I’ll be in touch soon!

    Aw, look at that…I’ve hijacked my own comments, tee hee.

  5. Just to clarify further, here’s what I would do:
    -Definitely publish it on my website, for free
    -Possibly publish it as an ebook available for ereaders and other devices, either for free or a very low price
    -Get copies printed for giveaways and such

    Advertising would really be minimal or low–mostly I would do giveaways, try to entice people to the site via my various online presences (blog, facebook, twitter, etc.), and hope for the best. Not looking for a profit, and actually expecting to end up in the hole a bit–just want people to read and, I hope, enjoy it.

  6. Scalzi had a huge following before he started posting his novel online, so for him it worked.

    I consider my unpublished novels as inventory. Alex Bledsoe, my favorite debut author, had six novels written before he finally got published with THE SWORD-EDGED BLONDE. Six. And guess what’s happening now? The other novels are starting to sell.

    I liked Hazel, and I liked your book. It is definitely better stuff than what I was writing in my 20s and early 30s. I know you’ve moved on to your next book, so I don’t have to tell you to do that. But I wouldn’t consider it trunked just because you’re focusing on something else.

    I think what Lisa meant is that reviewers give short shrift to self-publishers. They’re going to need a lot of convincing to review your work. I’m guilty of that myself. Since I’ve read your story, I wouldn’t do that to you, but I’m only one blogger. Even when I do review self-published and micro-press books, they attract very little interest from my audience.

    If you do decide to self-publish, I can tell you what pitfalls to avoid, and what turns a potential reviewer off.

    Oh, and consider Lisa’s offer to read it. She is a great beta reader!

  7. Lol, yeah Tia, I think I’ve had as many visits to my blog since it began as Scalzi gets in, oh, ten minutes. And Cory Doctorow + BoingBoing = insta-audience. So you do, if you hope for true success, need that built in readership, which so few actually have. But it proves one thing: online reading, be it of e-books or just text on a site, is increasing.

    I’m definitely going to take Lisa up on her offer, if she’s interested in what I’ve got. =)

  8. Tia hit my point about the closed doors. Also if you wanted the book in stores they aren’t as open to self pub
    Unless sales take off I wouldn’t mention self published novels in a query
    I love my iPhone but my fingers need tinier tips for typing
    Although I prefer reading printed form I’ve gotten fond of reading with my iPhone. Really. However did I cope without.

  9. My thoughts:

    1. If you really want to go for it, then you should totally go for it.

    2. But (did you know that was coming? haha) keep in mind that if you self-publish it, you may never be able to publish it via a traditional big publisher. I truly believe you may end up with an agent/publisher, and they’ll be interested in seeing your other work. I would just be worried Hazel’s story would be undesirable to them if it has already been self-published. Maybe not. But it is a possibility.

    3. I can’t imagine it would have an effect on future work being represented or published, but it’s definitely something to look into. And would you need to mention it in queries?

    4. If you do end up doing it, I’ll be right there reading it. 🙂

  10. I’ve been reading Hazel’s story and I love it. (Actually, I got online to post something on my blog – then got side tracked as I noticed that my blog roll was gone . . . no clue what happened to it!)
    Yes, I can SO see a publisher wanting this, on the other hand, it makes me wonder how many other wonderful pieces of work out there are waiting . ..

    Although self-publishing will make a traditional publisher/agent decline this work, if Kristin is able to gain readership, publishers/agents wouldn’t care so much.

    If you do self publish -count on me to help however I can! Purely selfish, mainly because I want the next in the series.

    I wouldn’t mention a self published work in a query unless it received notable attention that would make an agent/publisher take notice.

  11. I love this story! (I’m done reading it – I returned from my trip today and plopped my butt on the coach most of the day.) I understand what drives you to self publish so that you can give Hazel a chance to be known.

  12. I recently read an interesting story that I down loaded to my iPhone from iTunes. I later learned the author had originally self-published it and I suspect he was the one who created the app for the iPhone.

    should you decide to return to the self-publish route, that is another avenue to promote your book!

  13. Huh. That’s pretty cool, Lisa! Talk about being innovative.

    Thank you so much for your kind words about Battle of the Hexes. Your comments helped a great deal, too. All of which further solidifies my conviction that no (good) novel is written in a vacuum.

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