Guest Post: Sarahbeth Caplin

Sarahbeth Caplin has an English degree from Kent State University, and is an author and avid blogger at Follow her on Twitter @SbethCaplin.

This fabulous post is part of her Indie Author Life series, and I’m delighted to co-host it on my blog.

Why Self-Publish?

I’ve known my entire life that I was meant to be a writer. I’d write blog posts and columns for my campus newspaper, but the idea of publishing a book seemed too lofty a goal, too “out there” for a nobody like me.

It wasn’t until I saw a woman hanging up a flyer for her book signing at the Panera where I worked that I found out about self-publishing. I asked her how she published, and she made it sound so easy. I had a manuscript written already, and I was very impatient to birth it into the world.

There are many benefits to self-publishing over traditional publishing. One is higher royalties: indie authors can set their own prices and earn up to 70% when publishing through CreateSpace, Amazon’s independent publishing platform. Self-publishing happens at the author’s discretion: it can take well over a year for an agent to pitch a book to a publisher, but indies can hit the “publish” button at any time (this is both a blessing and a curse, which I’ll address later).

For me, the decision to self-publish was more about creative freedom. The kind of books I am interested in writing don’t easily fit into existing genres, which can be a turnoff to some publishers. The audience is too mixed. Over time, cross-blending of genres can become more popular (“paranormal romance” did not exist until the soaring popularity of the Twilight series), but it’s uncommon because it’s risky. From an agent’s perspective, a book that combines genres not previously combined before may not be as popular (ie: lower sales).

Publishers are interested in books that are highly marketable, but these are not always genres I think I can write well. Fantasy is huge right now, but I’ve never been interested in that. Erotica is also huge, but I get squeamish just writing kissing scenes with my characters, so that’s out.

My most recent book, for example, is young adult with religious themes – but it’s not Christian fiction. Therefore, it would be difficult to place among mainstream YA. My first novel, also YA fiction, dealt with rape: not a highly marketable subject, either.

Of course you never know what agents and publishers will think of your work until you try querying, something I have yet to do. It could work out well, or result in a pile of rejection letters. However, I had – and continue to have – specific visions in mind for each of my books, from plot to cover design. I write stories that are meaningful to me, with very specific take-home messages I do not want lost simply because such ideas have yet to become “mainstream.”

When a book is well written, edited, and has an eye-grabbing cover, it can sell at the same ranks as traditionally published books. The only difference is self-published authors have to work harder at establishing connections that agents have, so the process of selling in droves can take much longer. Then again, not all self-published authors publish with a goal of topping the bestseller lists. Some people publish for themselves, or an otherwise narrow audience.

Read the original post here, and be sure to check her out on Twitter! Thanks, Sarabeth!

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