Why it makes sense to self-publish your AusQueerYA
One of the biggest names in self-publishing (though not a QueerYA author) is Hugh Howey. If you’re not familiar with his story, basically he sold his first book to a traditional publisher, thought the whole process was awful, bought back the rights to his novel, self-published that and half a dozen other novels one after the other, got discovered by readers on book 7 or 8, and is now mega-successful. He is pretty much the poster-boy for taking your writing career into your own hands and determining your own level of success, rather than letting a publishing house tell you whether your novel is going to take off or not. After reading his blog, some things he said really resonated. His ethos is that successful authors are the ones who work the hardest and don’t give up and that it’s much harder to keep going if your career is in the hands of someone else, rather than your own. With self-publishing, you can go and go and go forever and that is how you will ultimately forge a writing career.
Sounds easy, right? Just keep writing and eventually you’ll make it. Why wait years for an editor to give you a crumb when your book could be out in the world in less than a day? Not convinced? Neither we’re we. But then we found Author Earnings. A look at their October 2016 report shows that not only are self-published books racking up impressive readership stats, self-pub authors are actually earning more overall, especially compared to first-time traditionally published authors. This is due to a few factors, like the price of books and the way traditional publishing houses stack the odds against their own first-time authors in favour of proven successful authors they represent. As a first-time author, your book might stay in bookstores for 6 months or so, but if your sales figures aren’t enough after that time, your book goes into a dusty warehouse somewhere. When you self-publish, your book is always for sale, unless you decide to take it down.
But is it just about the money? I think artists in general have a real aversion to talking about making money. We’re supposed to do this for the love of it, for pats on the head and for the sheer act of having someone appreciate our work, but we also have bills to pay. A lot of the trouble with being a writer today is this idea that we should feel privileged to be published and being paid is just a nice bonus. But I say screw that. The more money we make from writing, the more time we can spend actually writing, rather than day-jobs that don’t inspire us. We get paid to make coffee/work retail/stock the shelves at Woolies, why shouldn’t we aspire to be paid for our writing? So yeah, money is a big part of it, but it’s not everything (there’s also fame and legions of adoring fans).
Apart from the legions of adoring fans, one of the greatest pros of self-publishing that you have complete control over what ends up in your novel. There is a long history of censorship, silencing and erasure in the queer community and even though Moonlight just won the Oscar, that doesn’t mean we as LGBTQ+ persons are suddenly fully accepted by the mainstream of society. If your book is picked up by a traditional publisher, your editor has the final say in what appears in the final copy. If you self-publish, you get to decide. When you self-publish, you should still hire/find an editor to do a structural/line edit, but the difference is that if that editor thinks you should cut your key gay love-scene because it’s too gay, you can kindly tell them where to go and publish your book anyway. Not so easy to do that with a traditional publisher.
Of course there are some really brilliant editors being awesome allies for the AusQueerYA genre (I mean, people are getting AusQueerYA’s traditionally published, so it’s not all completely useless out there), but for those who would rather take responsibility for their own message, self-publishing is a legitimate and viable option for AusQueerYA writers. While it might not result in your book being in the local book shop, we at Get YA Words Out are dedicated to creating a stronger marketplace presence and community support for AusQueerYA authors who choose to take their career into their own hands and self-publish. You’re not alone.
Why do you want to self-publish your AusQueerYA?