Happy Read Self-Published Month! I’ve recently self-published two science fiction books and have learned the pros and cons of this path. One of the major reasons I wanted to self-published had to do with my career in television. For the past ten years, I’ve created and developed television series, pilots, and pitches. I’ve been lucky to have several of my TV concepts turned into series (for the TLC Network, Lifetime Movie Network, Destination America) and several pilots (Syfy, Investigation Discovery, Pivot/Participant) but for every project that was greenlit, at least 20 concepts were not. It sucks having a gatekeeper at every turn telling you that your concept is great, but not exactly right for their demo, for their budget, for their bottom line. So many good ideas never make it to the screen because of extremely arbitrary metrics, timing constraints, you name it. The book industry felt exactly the same as I started seeking out agents and publishers. There’s only so many companies with only so many resources, and if you don’t tick their tiny boxes then it’s over.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands. Before even hearing back from my agent and publisher submissions (which take months to even get seen) I decided I didn’t want to wait and went ahead and unleashed my books onto the world. It’s extremely important to have independent ideas go to market because niche readers can be better served, more unique ideas can be shared, more demographics can see themselves in lead roles, and creative juices can continue to flow without artificial parameters. Movie studios, television executives, music producers, and book publishers take safe bets to ensure profits so they often go for regurgitated ideas rather than fresh new ones. We think of it as art, but it’s even more about business. With a glut of reboots, remakes, and sequels, our culture is starting to feel stagnant. For these reasons, I urge you to support self-published and indie products.
I did mention there are cons to this side of the business. Because the gatekeepers are gone, some people pump out sub-par products, making it difficult for readers to cut through the clutter. Big publishers are able to pay big money for advertising and marketing, making it even more difficult for people to know about great self-published products with little to no backing. There’s so much content and so little time. But just because a book or movie has huge financial backing, doesn’t mean it has a good story. With a little extra digging, you can find hidden gems that are often offered at discount prices. So if you’re looking for a good new story, I urge you to explore the world of self-published content. I urge you to spread the word when you find a great one. I urge you to skip the mundane, safe choices. Be bold, try something new, and show the traditional outlets that you’re sick of the same old stories.