Why I decided to self-publish my third book (and it’s not why you think.)
By M.K. Hobson
I very clearly remember the moment I decided to self-publish The Warlock's Curse, the third book in my Veneficas Americana historical fantasy series.
I was sitting in a little Chinese restaurant near my work--one of my favorite places to take my notebook and write during my lunchhour. My agent had broken the news to me a couple of weeks earlier that Ballantine Spectra, the publisher of my first two books, had decided not to take their option on the next book in the series, so I was grinding feverishly on a proposal for a new stand-alone novel.
The news from my publisher had been disappointing, and it had also kind of taken me by surprise. The Native Star, my debut novel, had been nominated for a Nebula award and it had "earned out" (meaning that it had made enough money to pay for the advance Spectra hadpaid me.) I had thought these factors might allow my publisher to look beyond the lower sales number on the second book in the duology, The Hidden Goddess.
I was so confident, in fact, that I had already written the first draft of The Warlock’s Curse. And I was really excited about it--more excited, honestly, than I was about the (admittedly nifty) secondary-world political fantasy I was pitching.
What really bugged me, however, was knowing that even once I finished the proposal, I wouldn’t have an answer back for months. And there was certainly no guarantee that the answer would be yes. And even if the answer was yes, it would be at least another two or three years before the book saw print. And it could even be significantly more than that. I know other writers (all at a roughly similar stage of their career as I am) who’ve had to wait four, five, even six years for their book to get on to their big publisher’s release schedule.
The thought of waiting all that time to get another book on the market really worried me. After a lapse of that length, even if it I filled it with short fiction and internet antics, I’d be right back at base camp, packing my oxygen tanks for the arduous climb up PR mountain. But I’d put a lot of hard work into building an author platform and reader goodwill. I didn’t want to see it all go to waste. And that was the moment I decided that I was going to self-publish the next book in the series myself.
This decision had many immediately attractive elements. I could continue publishing on a nice, predictable, book-a-year schedule. I’d have the final say over the look and feel of my books. I’d get to keep all the rights. It was only as time went on that all the less-attractive parts started to reveal themselves. The huge risk, both financially and professionally. The long hours spent learning esoteric aspects of print and ebook production. The lingering stigma of being a “vanity published” author.
Would I like to nestle comfortably under the wing of a traditional publisher again? Well sure, if it were as comfy and downy as I’d always imagined a traditional publishing arrangement would be. Even though self-publishing has come a long way, there’s still a feeling that I’m not quite a “real” author. But then, back in the days when I was running my own small business--working fifty hour weeks and hustling like mad--I never felt like I had a “real” job, either.
But to be quite honest, when you get right down to it, an armpit is still an armpit. And at this point, I’m more interested in testing my own wings.
Author's Bio:M.K. Hobson’s debut novel, The Native Star—the first book in her Veneficas Americana series—was nominated for a Nebula award in 2010. She lives in the first city in the United States incorporated west of the Rockies. Her favorite writers are Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Booth Tarkington, Gore Vidal, and William S. Burroughs. The Warlock’s Curse is her third novel. You can find out more at her website, www.demimonde.com.
The Warlock's Curse
THE YEAR IS 1910. Eighteen-year-old Will Edwards has landed a prestigious apprenticeship at Detroit’s Tesla Industries, the most advanced scientific research center in the United States. It’s a plum prize for a young man who dreams of a career in the new science of Otherwhere Engineering.But his father doesn’t want him to go. And he won’t tell him why.Determined to get there by any means necessary, Will finds unexpected support along the way. His old friend Jenny Hansen—daughter of a San Francisco timber baron—is eager to help him for reasons of her own. And so is his estranged brother Ben, who he hasn’t seen in over ten years.But running away turns out to be the easy part. On the first full moon after his eighteenth birthday, Will is stricken by a powerful magic—a devastating curse laid upon his ancestors by the malevolent sangrimancer Aebedel Cowdray. Will must find a way to control the magic that possesses him—or the vengeful warlock’s spirit will destroy everything and everyone he loves.
Prize package of *signed* copies of The Native Star, The Hidden Goddess and The Warlock's Curse as well as a swag pack of a Tesla Industries pin, magnets and a sticker *not shown*.
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13 ebooks of The Warlock's Curse
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13 ebooks of The Warlock's Curse
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