I've been meaning to write this for a while. More and more I've noticed that people coming into the bookstore are asking for books we simply don't have. It's not because we're out or that it's not something we usually carry - but it's because the book has been self-published.
A few years ago I remember Nathan Bransford reassuring everyone that even in the seemingly endless mire of books out there people will find the books they want to read. Well, he's 100% right. People already did that when physical books packed the shelves, and now the same is true for all of the electronic books floating around out there. Initially I found it to be a little frustrating. Partly because the people looking for the book would demand to know why they couldn't get the book (if it was only an ebook) or express frustration over it being print-on-demand. Partly because I found it a bit tiring to have to explain the reasons why they couldn't immediately get the book or why this print-on-demand book had to be sent to their home and not the store, etc.
Now, however, as more people come in requesting ebooks and POD books, I don't get frustrated. In fact, I'm actually pleased. I'm happy for those authors that somehow, in some way, these people have discovered their book. What's more, they want to spend the money and buy it. That provides an income to people who have worked hard to create a book. And that is excellent. While it doesn't always work because people still can't quite handle waiting for the book to be made and then sent, sometimes it does, and that's great.
For the longest time my dad always demanded why I didn't just self-publish my books and sell them. For a long time the answer was the same most of us would give. It costs money. It doesn't offer the same distribution as the bigger publishers can offer. You have to work your buns off to convince people to buy your book. A lot of big name authors actually did start out self-published, some even selling their work out of the trunks of their cars (John Grisham, James Redfield). And I thought, "I would do that - if I had the money." I never had the money and I didn't get a car until after college.
Epublishing allows all of us to do that. I'm doing it. I finally decided to jump into the deep end of the pool and see what happens. I want to know. I'm selling my book out of the trunk of my car - the only difference is that now it's all done electronically, I have access to so many more people, and I don't have to pay a dime (except to get an excellent cover, of course). It's terrifying and thrilling all at once. Yes, people are reading my book. No, I have no idea if they'll like it or not. But it allows to me reach an audience I never thought possible - like other countries. I found out today that I sold a unit in Germany. Germany! Someone in that country purchased my book. It's only one book, but that has got to be one of the coolest things ever.
So if you are working hard on a book and feel it is ready to be out there and can't get through the agents or publishers, then maybe epublishing is the way to go. The stigma of self-publishing is slowly but surely going away because there are just too many people out there with excellent stories that they want to tell. Not everything will be amazing, but not everything published now is amazing. And in the end, it doesn't matter because as Nathan said, people will read what they want. They'll be able to find despite the thousands of books out there. And that's pretty cool.
On a final note, if you would like to read my book, it will be available for free April 19th on the Kindle and devices that can host the Kindle app.
You can download the book here. And in case you were curious or in need of a cover yourself, this lovely piece was done by Regina Wamba of Mae I Design and Photography. You can also find her on Facebook and her work is amazing. :)