The beauties, and freedom, of self publishing

This past November, I received an email from Saguaro Books, the publisher of my first book, The Last 18. They loved the draft for my second, More Than a Game, which was published earlier this week.

But it was not published by Saguaro Books.

Anyone who knows me knows that I can be hard-headed and stubborn, and when pressed to change my views on something in which I am both hard-headed and stubborn, I can be an asshole. I know it. I admit it. Anybody who has ever edited my writing and made edits I didn’t agree with know this to be true (everyone who has hired me is nodding along to this now).

Which is why I decided not to go with a traditional publisher. I appreciated Saguaro for publishing my first book. It legitimized me as an author – I didn’t have to self-publish! But, in my opinion, it cheapened the product. I thought their edits made it worse, and much different than what I had written. The average reader might not notice such subtle differences as a comma here or semicolon there, but I did, and I hated it. In the end, after several years of drafting and editing I was left…disappointed, somehow, in my first book.IMG_4753.JPG.jpeg

Al, the finest editor in the literary field

I didn’t want that to happen with my second. I wanted complete control. Saguaro did as well. They had their styles and conventions. I had mine. We butted heads, and I have a pretty hard and thick noggin when it comes to my writing, so I didn’t budge.

I opted to publish More Than a Game on my own, through Amazon’s CreateSpace. Through CreateSpace, I “created” my own publishing company, Paper Courts, which is, as you’ll notice, the name of my website and blog. It was my girlfriend’s idea, actually. She saw how frustrated I was with the edits and wondered why I didn’t go at it alone.

I’m a kinesthetic learner, which is another way of saying I learn by doing and failing.

What an opportunity this was to do both.

Through CreateSpace, I had total creative control. I want a period here? Done. I want $13 books? Bingo. I want the cover how I want the cover? And the interior design? And the publishing date? And full marketing control?

Yesyesyes.

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My old, and current, editor, Brandon Walker knows how stubborn I am when it comes to editing…

Publishing a book really is quite easy, and I have CreateSpace – and dozens of other self-publishing avenues – to thank for that. I was initially averse to self-publishing. It doesn’t have the credibility of going through a traditional publisher, but I stopped caring about that. I cared only about the quality of the content, and I felt that self-publishing – choosing my own editors, and also choosing which editors I wanted to listen to, because I’m a stubborn, inflexible writer – was the best route to optimize my content and present it in the manner that I wanted.

I made the cover (actually, I sifted through 122 of them).

I made the edits.

If it fails, it’s on me. I love that.

Self-publishing has a bad rap, because anybody can do it. It’s really easy. In hindsight, the only reason I really wanted to go through a traditional publisher was to validate that my writing was good enough to catch a publisher’s eye. I wanted somebody else, somebody legitimate, to tell me I was good enough. It’s stupid. But it’s true.

I did that – and then I realized it was totally unnecessary. It was James Altucher who opened my eyes to how much more efficient self-publishing is. I don’t have to pay anybody – no agent, no publisher, just CreateSpace, which eats up less than a quarter of what I would have paid my agent and publisher. I have editorial control. I get to decide the cover, the interior design, the flow, the commas and periods and semi-colons.

I even get to own my mistakes, should there be a few, which there likely are.

I’d much rather look at an error and say “I did that” than fume because I paid a publisher half of my royalties to not only let that mistake slide, but create the mistake in the first place.

And besides, you know a few other books that were self-published?

50 Shades of – I can’t even finish writing the title, but you get it.

The Martian.

The Alchemist may as well have been (it was picked up by a tiny Brazilian publisher, no bigger than Saguaro Books, at first, and sold less than 1,000 copies).

50 Shades sold more copies than the entire Harry Potter series combined.

The Martian was made into a Blockbuster.

The Alchemist is widely regarded as one of the best literary works of all time.

Will this book be on par with those three? Of course not (though, God, if you’re reading, a little help, huh?). That was never really the aim. The aim was to write a book I think you’ll like.

It was to write a book that I would like.

Self-publishing, it turns out, was the best way to accomplish both.

 

 

About the Author

Travis Mewhirter
Travis Mewhirter is the founder of PaperCourts.com. A graduate from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, Mewhirter's work has been featured in the Washington Post, Yahoo! Sports, Northwest Florida Daily News, and the Orange County Register. He currently writes for VolleyballMag.com, DiG Magazine, and Diehards.com, among others.