As chronicled here and on my website, I've been struggling with the decision to self-publish KING OF PAINE, my second novel, or slog through the process of finding an agent and then a commercial publisher. I half-heartedly sent out a few query letters earlier this year, and one agent requested the full manuscript to review in February. I'm still on her reading pile, or not, and the fact that I don't really care tells me I've already decided to self-publish (although a breathless call with a six-figure advance would probably change that--how's that for "daring to dream"?). I'm making it official here and setting a target publication date of July 15th.
I'm not going to whine here any more about dire publishing economics. The bottom line is that winning the commercial publishing lottery is not the bonanza many people think. Advances for debut authors are small, publishers expect the author to do all the marketing, time to publication is about two years, and shelf life is only two months. If I publish the book myself primarily as an e-book, I keep most of the sales proceeds (allowing me to price the book attractively for my readers), I still do all my own marketing, time to publication is almost instant, and shelf life is forever. (I will also have a trade paperback version of KING OF PAINE available for readers who prefer a hard copy, but printing and distribution costs will force me to price it higher.)
The biggest reason to go through the commercial process is prestige, which I do not discount lightly. I don't want you to think less of me or my book because it's self-published. I want you to buy my book and love it and recommend it to your friends proudly. Here's a few reasons why you should take a chance on me and select KING OF PAINE as one of the limited number of books you'll choose this year:
1. I self-published THE JINX in 2000 and received excellent reviews from many highly-respected sources, including Publishers Weekly and The Legal Times. See my website for review clips. As you might expect, I've learned much about the writing craft over the past eleven years, and I hope this shows in my second effort.
2. Despite the admittedly uneven quality of self-published works, KING OF PAINE is an intricately-plotted, well-edited book. I've work-shopped it ad nauseum with my writers group (ask them!) and have produced over a dozen drafts, even changing my main character midstream after winning an honorable mention in a prestigious novel contest. I take my writing seriously and, to quote Randy Jackson from American Idol, I'm in it to win it--honorable mention doesn't cut it.
3. You'll love the characters and plot. Poor Ben Kravner's bumbling passion played well as a neophyte legal eagle in THE JINX, but he came off a bit bland as a rookie FBI agent in the second book. So I went to the opposite extreme. Frank Paine is an ex-Hollywood stud with a kinky past, not your traditional Special Agent. He's flawed--a recovering sex addict who hurt the woman he loved--but his quest for redemption is littered with roadblocks--Bureau colleagues who shun him because of his celebrity, a vengeful ex-girlfriend, and a ruthless stalker who uses Frank's past transgressions to ensnare him in an erotic cat-and-mouse death match. Frank's history and flaws make the sexy story work, and I think you'll enjoy the intricate web of twists and turns that lead to a shocking climax. The clues are there, but I dare you to solve the mystery before Frank does...if he even lives to do it.
4. I'm going to make it easy for you to buy the book. My plan is to price the e-book at $2.99, well below the price of commercially-published e-books. I'll get about 80% of the proceeds as royalties compared to the 10% or so I'd get from a commercial publisher on hardcovers, so I can afford to share the wealth with you.
5. To run with the revolutionary theme of this blog, this is your chance to stick it to The Man. The commercial publishers and their lackeys guard the gates to publication with a privileged attitude. They are the self-selected few who decide what you read. With the advent of e-books and low-cost self-publishing, you can decide what to read and force publishers to compete in the wild and ultimately reduce prices to more reasonable levels. Damn The Man!
My hope is that many of you will take a chance on me, buy KING OF PAINE, love it and tell all your friends to read it, too. Successes in the book industry only comes about by word-of-mouth, and I'd truly appreciate the chance to earn your support when my novel goes live next month. Stay tuned, and thank you.