Self-publishing - what is it like?
I have not yet attempted to source an agent or publisher. For me, self-publishing was the obvious route to take as a debut novelist. I would rather get the book out there and learn by my mistakes than have the inevitable rejections that even experienced authors sometimes suffer.
Self-publishing, if you can be disciplined, is just a process. Create a check-list and give yourself deadlines to achieve each item, adjusting the check-list as new items appear (and they do). Dealing with an American company like Amazon has some drawbacks. The main two issues are the distance (i.e. over the Atlantic) and the sheer size of the company. If you need to contact them, do you really want to telephone the support desk? If you lived and worked in the U.S. you could request a call-back. Not an option if you live in the UK. Also, you can’t exactly just pop down the motorway to have a chat with them. The size of Amazon means that they are dealing with tens of thousands of people every week and probably thousands of authors. It is no criticism of Amazon to say that you are a number. That is understandable. They can’t get to know everyone personally and if you use the standard support desk system (email via the CreateSpace Dashboard) they will get back to you within 24 hours. I found them to be extremely efficient. However, if they send a reply and you have one small point to make (i.e. you’re saying “fair enough, but what if...”) you have to wait another 24 hours for the follow-up reply. I can live with that. It felt awkward at first, but I have learnt to be patient.
Taking on self-publishing also means taking responsibility. If, like me, you have been self-employed for a number of years, you are quite used to making your own decisions and not trundling down to the boss’s office for a policy decision. The buck stops here. It can be difficult at times, but on balance I prefer it. If you want to delay the launch date by 2 weeks, fine. If you’ve changed your mind about the book cover, change it.
Having said all that, if a large publisher spotted my book and offered me a deal I would probably snatch their hand off. It’s every author’s dream...