Before I started my journal The Black Lion, I was taking an undergraduate course on publishing and editing; and here, I learned what would become the beginnings of online journal management. I’ve since documented my overall journey to where I am now, including what I did during my graduate years, when I was researching digital communications.
For the undergraduate course, I was part of a team of seven and we had a genre fiction journal called Parallaxed Journal. We’ve all since disbanded to greater things, but for that journal, I interviewed author James Matlack Raney about his expertise and experience in self-publishing, and about his debut Jim Morgan And The King of Thieves.
JM Raney is a marvelously talented and intelligent person — how could I let his words be hidden? His knowledge is too much to pass up. Below is the interview dubbed the “self-Publishing Guide.” For part 2 of the interview, where JM Raney talks about his debut, Jim Morgan And The King Of Thieves, click here.
— Christina Lydia
Self Publishing? Check Out This Guide By James Matlack Raney — Author Of Jim Morgan & The King Of Thieves
Why did you make the choice to self-publish? What took you there?
Well, being rejected about 90 times helped make the choice more obvious! But truthfully, after all those rejections I nearly gave up on my novel. It was a good friend that talked me back into the idea of trying to publish Jim Morgan on my own, and I’ve never regretted it since.
What does self-publishing mean to you?
When I first started my writing journey, about 10 years ago, I really bought into that myth that all self-published writers must be hacks that couldn’t cut it in the “real” publishing world. Then time goes by and you realize that first, not everything that makes it through the gatekeepers of literary agencies and big publishing houses is necessarily good, and second, not everything rejected by those groups is turned away because it’s bad. Once you make that realization, I believe self-publishing becomes a more appealing road for the daring writer or artist willing to hold true to the story they long to tell and willing to work twice as hard to see it brought to life.
Which is the best distribution method you have used for promoting your book?
There aren’t very many great choices out there, but I think CreateSpace and Lightening Source are still the two best. Uncovered Books is brand new, but it’s one to keep an eye on!
How do you manage advertising for your book? Do you think it’s worth it?
From my experience (and it was an expensive experience, unfortunately) I don’t feel advertising is really worth it for self-publishing. What is worth the expense is a good PR firm or representative. They can help you get reviewed, interviewed, and set up on blog tours, all of which are the best ways to start making some noise in the literary community.
What professional help do you think is most beneficial to enhance the quality of your work? A Copy-editor, Group Critique, a professional illustrator, etc.?
Everything that you just mentioned is not just beneficial, it is necessary! One of my mentors in my 9-5 life once told me that if you wanted to get promoted, start dressing and acting like the role you want to become. That’s great advice! If you want to be a professional writer, put forth a professional product! The only addition I would make to your list above would be a professional content editor – they aren’t hard to find, but search for one with experience in your genre.
How do you find time to separate the writer part of self-publishing with that of the publisher and distributer? Do you find yourself debating on which to set more time into?
Oh yes, and it’s so difficult sometimes. Truthfully, I don’t know if there is a best way to divide that time, you just have to make it work because you need both to be successful. If I were to choose though, keep as much of your energy as you can for your writing – that’s the part that got you started down this road in the first place, so don’t let go of it.
Do you feel that it’s important to still have a job while self-publishing a book? Why or why not?
Again, it’s not just important, it’s necessary – unless your parents are rich or you win the lottery! Most writers, even those with an agent and publishing contract with all the trappings, must work hard to make ends meet. The vast majority of writers, especially at the beginning, don’t make enough from their creative work to pay the bills. On top of that, like I said before, if you want to be treated like a professional, you must put forth a professional product, and unfortunately, that takes money.
Do you plan on self-publishing your sequels too? Why or not?
Traditional publishing should always be your first option, as the people who work in that field can take so much off your shoulders and help you successfully navigate the writer’s journey. So I’ll certainly send out the sequel to a small group of agents, but that being said, I’m certainly not afraid of self-publishing any more. If that is the road left to me, I’ll gladly travel it again!
What is one thing you know now about self-publishing that you wish you would have known earlier?
Just how much of it I would need to own. When I saw advertisements for self-publishing companies online, I thought that I would be able to send them my manuscript and out would pop a novel that looked just as good as the best-sellers on the wall at Barnes & Noble. Nothing could be further from the truth! You must be the guiding force behind every developmental aspect of your book, which is a lot of work! But I find it’s also freeing and exciting work because you become the lead artist of not only the words within the story, but of the actual physical object you’re going to put in people’s hands. It’s really quite rewarding and exhilarating when you get it right!
¡PSST! Interview © 2013 Christina Lydia