Friday, June 15, 2012

Do I regret self-publishing the Hal Junior series?

I like to take stock now and then, reviewing past decisions so I can learn from mistakes and do more of whatever happened to work.

I've said plenty on my reasons for self-publishing Hal Junior, but here's a brief recap for new readers:

1) I can't handle the incredibly long lead times between handing in a finished book and seeing it released.

2) With a trade publisher, once it's published it's done, and everyone moves on to the next shiny. Me, I like to experiment with different ebook covers, add links to new titles to the back of the old ones, maybe refresh the cover art from time to time. I believe books are a living thing, not something you carve out of stone and put on display.

3) This is the biggie. I can't start reading a series unless I have book one. If books one and three are available but book two is out of print, forget it. If there are gaps, I'll walk away from the whole thing. By self-publishing in ebook and print, all my titles are available now, and they always will be.

I've had four books released through a trade publisher (over a period of 5-6 years) and it was fun, educational and exhilarating. By the time book five rolled around I was over it and I wanted a new challenge. It got so bad I put the manuscript on hold and wrote three books in a new series, just for the hell of it.

(I'm not anti trade publishing. I just believe my best move is to establish my new series FIRST. Publishers can approach me with offers whenever they like, and if you're thinking 'that will never happen' ... well, that's exactly how I scored a publishing deal for the Hal Spacejock series.)
So, in hindsight, was self-publishing Hal Junior the right decision?

Answer: of course it was. Nothing has changed since I released the first book.

My goal is to build an audience for this series over time, with worldwide ebook and paperback releases. No threat of cancellation, and no pressure. Just a bit of fun writing them, a bit of fun drawing silly illustrations, and then a lot of fun getting each title ready for release. FUN is the operative word, and while it's fun I'll continue to write and publish new work.

I've just released the second Hal Junior book with no fanfare whatsoever, and it's already started selling. Now I'm putting the finishing touches to book three, and book four is half done as well. I'll keep putting them out there, because I think you need three or four books in a series available before it has a chance to catch on.

If you dream of having your book published by a big-name house, and seeing it available from bookstores across the planet, don't give up. I'm not trying to push one form of publishing over another, I'm just explaining why self-pub was right for this series, and for me.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

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