Tuesday, July 12, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Maria Zannini

Pros and Cons of Going Rogue

Are you ready to self-publish? Despite what you might’ve heard about books selling like hotcakes and push-button publishing, it’s a little more complicated than that.

If anything, self-publishing requires MORE discipline and dedication than taking a traditional route. Everywhere you go, people will snub you, or worse, disparage your career choices.

There’s a definite rogue quality assigned to self-publishing and it chafes the status quo. Although the rude behavior is not as prevalent (or as belligerent) as it once was, it still exists, especially by those stoically hanging on to the vestiges of traditional publishing. It’s not personal. Any time you rock a boat, those with the best seats are going to get nervous.

As this is the first stop of my Indie Roadshow I’ll start with a balanced look at the good and not-so-good side of self-publishing to give you an overview of what you’ll encounter should you take this step as well.


• You are totally in control. Creative control. Administrative control. Editing control. You’re an Oprah microcosm.

• You set the time table. No more rushing and rearranging schedules to meet an editor’s deadlines. All your deadlines are self-imposed.

• Write what’s in your heart. There’s no editor or agent to nix your project because they feel they can’t sell it to the marketing committee.

• Most of the money is yours. This is my favorite part, and probably my biggest reason for trying on the rogue coat. Depending on your price point, you can earn up to 70% of your cover price.


• Remember that control part? With that and a side of fries, you also get all the responsibility. Trust me. It’s a lot more work than it looks from the sidelines—that is, if you don’t fudge on any of the details.

• It costs money. Other than the writing, you can hire someone to edit, design the cover, format, advertise, schedule blog tours, and send your book out to reviewers. The more you can do for yourself, the more money in your pocket.

• The stigma. Honestly, you’d think there was a giant, honking wart on your nose by the way some people react to self-publishing. Don’t feed the beast by putting out a bad book. Get it professionally edited by someone who does not have a vested interest in it.

• It’s lonely. Sure there are self-publishing communities, but in the end, you’re still in this alone. You will LOVE every nameless soul who buys your book because those are the people who had faith in you, and that’s something money can’t buy.

Should you decide to go rogue, go in with your eyes open. Don’t count on luck or the kindness of strangers. Expect all the work to be on your shoulders—most of it will be. Farm out what you can’t do and roll up your sleeves and do the rest yourself.

Just remember there are just as many benefits as there are pitfalls. If you have a little of the entrepreneurial spirit in you, this might be a road worth taking.

Are there any pitfalls in self-publishing that worry you? Let’s discuss.

Bio: Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spends her time wrangling chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels.

To see all of my titles visit me on my blog

Follow me on Facebook

THE DEVIL TO PAY: Shannon McKee just made the worst deal of her life and has offered her soul in trade. She never expected they’d come to collect so soon.


Writer and Cat said...

Just like with any form of publishing, my worry is always spending all that time (and money) and never getting much return for it. Since I have a family with young children, I'm not the only one making sacrifices so I can do this! Not that my situation is unique, but that's my fear.

Maria Zannini said...

Writer and Cat: (love your avatar!)

Unfortunately, traditional publishing doesn't give you any better a guarantee.

Although my revenue has been steady with my small press work, it's nothing to brag about. But at least with self-published work, more of the profits goes to the author.

--excellent topic!

Maria Zannini said...

JK: Thank you for inviting me to your blog! And I'm looking forward to seeing you at my place real soon.

Angelina Rain said...

Great post Maria. Here is my list of questions.

1. Who was the editor and cover artist for this book? Do they work for any publishers? How did you choose them? (see, three questions posing as one, lol)

2. How come your royaltees are only 70%? If you did all the work and paid money to have the book published, shouldn't be 100% royaltees? Or does the self publishing service take their money in the form of your royalties? If that's the case, how many books do you need to sell before you can get 100% of the money?

J.K. Coi said...

OMG Maria
This is so cool. I love that you're doing this. It's very brave and trailblazing of you, and I want to try it to with something that I've been keeping aside for a little while, but the one big CON for me is all the time and effort it takes. I don't have any time!

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: You stuffed the ballot box with questions. LOL.

Okay, let's see. I will have specific posts on editors and cover artists, but I'll give you the short answers here.

Editors: I used one of my editors from Carina Press (Deb Nemeth) to give me her overall perspective on the story. Mason Canyon (who I'm visiting tomorrow) did the proofreading.

Cover art: I did the art with some technical input from an artist-peer.

In all cases, I chose them because I trusted their judgement.

Royalties: No one does you any favors for free. :grin: Amazon has one of the most liberal royalties (70%), but there are other royalty ladders too. They have to get their share for being the distribution clearinghouse for you. The only way to get 100% is if I offered it directly from my blog.

Maria Zannini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria Zannini said...

JK: It's interesting that you should mention the story you've been keeping aside. That's pretty much how this started.

The Devil To Pay started out as a sub to an anthology, but it went over the required word limit so I held it back.

I'd been interested in self-pubbing forever, but didn't think I had a property I could experiment on. And then I thought of this book.

I went VERY slowly, probably slower than most people, but I wanted to do things right. I'll have a post later on about the number of man-hours it took me to do this. You might be surprised.

Diane Dooley said...

Best of luck with your self-pub experiment, Maria! I'm insanely interested to see how you make out.

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: Thanks! I think it will be at least around book 2 or 3 before I can make a definitive statement on whether it was successful or not, but as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I'll never know for sure without seeing it through.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I'm so interested in seeing what this journey is really like. I'll be following you very closely, Maria...and on the right days, too! ^_^

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: It's a journey in the true sense of the word because I don't know what's going to happen either.

A lot of this was spurred by the changing language of contracts and the changing royalty rates--neither of which is being very nice to the author.

Raelyn Barclay said...

This whole roadshow fascinates me and I'm so glad you are doing it Maria. You tell it like it is :)

I think Writer and Cat summed up my fear. It's not so much not being able to do it but that it's not just me who'll be the "starving artist" if I muck up the process. Can't let those red-heads starve now can I? ;)

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: This is exactly the dilemma I faced when I decided to take up writing in the first place.

Writing, no matter what venue you use to distribute it, takes a LOT of time. It was a big risk to donate thousands of hours to learn the craft, the business, and all the time it takes to submit to the various publishers.

That's time I could have spent working as an artist making real money. What dollar amount did I lose choosing writing over a more tangible career?

I don't regret my decision, but I'm certainly not as compensated as I would've been had I decided not to write.

PS Excellent discussion points.

J.K. Coi said...

Ah, very true Raelyn and Maria. I don't think anyone starts writing "for the money"

jackie b central texas said...

Maria from the reader/fan viewpoint continue on with a job well done... I am truly hoping this venture becomes lucrative for you, it is like with school teachers much more work for doing something you love than there is compensation... However in the long run I think you made a wise choice with your first offering, The Devil To Pay is dead on what is hot out there right now!

Looking forward to the whole tour, you have some really interesting thoughts out already and for me you make me happy to be a reader not a writer all over again with just the tidbits on this particular post.

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie! So nice to see you here.

I'm glad it's hot because I don't write to trends. LOL.

I've always had a soft spot for angel and demon stories.

Jenny Schwartz said...

"Oprah microcosm" made me smile.

And I think that's the key message -- self-pub, epub, paper pub, there are no guarantees. Writing is about hard work and hope -- and I'm addicted.

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Some days I wouldn't mind working a little less hard. LOL.

Thanks for stopping in!

Shelley Munro said...

I'm reading all your posts with interest, Maria since I'm thinking about self-publishing in the future. The formatting side scares me a little, although I know you can pay people to do it.

I have to agree. Writing is a very uncertain occupation. You can never count on a royalty check, that's for sure!

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Shelley!
Formatting scarred the hell out of me too. But truly, it's not so much hard, as tedious. I did it on a day I when I knew I wouldn't have any interruptions because I was afraid I'd miss a step.

Jennifer Shirk said...

GREAT list of pros and cons. I really wish you success with your self-publishing. From what I hear there is a lot fo money to be made in it.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Jennifer! It's been a fascinating journey so far.