Deanna Roy is the USA Today bestselling author of the Forever romance series and Baby Dust. Her children’s book, Dust Bunnies: Secret Agents, was published in 2012 and she is currently working on a children’s series called Magic Mayhem.
She’s written numerous short stories and articles which have been published in 34th Parallel, Farfelu, The First Line, and The Writer. You can find out more about Deanna and her work by visiting her website.
Deanna will be teaching a class for the Writers’ League of Texas on September 27 at St. Edward’s University called “Self Publishing: Writing What You Love in Marketable Packages.” Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.
Scribe: Why did you decide to self-publish?
Deanna Roy: On my birthday in 2011, two prominent authors had a lengthy public dialogue about publishing that changed everything.
Barry Eisler had just turned down a half-million dollar deal with a publisher to do it himself, and he and JA Konrath decided to blow the lid right off self-publishing. After reading this, and considering the five years I’d been collecting rejection letters from agents, I decided to give it a try. It was a birthday gift to myself — be courageous. Be bold.
So I set out to learn everything I needed to know to transform my manuscript into a real book.
Scribe: What are some important things for writers to consider when deciding to self-publish vs. going the traditional route?
DR: The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about how much you want to learn. While you can hire out a lot of the tasks that might scare you — cover design, ebook formatting, paperback production — you still need to know enough to hire people who do a good job.
The temptation is just to hand it over to some company that will do it all for you. That’s a road to heartache and despair! Most services like this do not put the right sort of cover on your book, and without the right cover, you are sunk from day one. Truly excellent covers by graphic designers who put up “pre-made” covers between custom jobs are easy to find for $50. And those covers will ROCK.
But you have to know this. If you aren’t up for learning what you need to know to do it yourself, then you’ve already set yourself up to fail.
The second thing to realize is that if the summary paragraph in your query to agents isn’t getting them to request it, then using that same paragraph on a retailer site like Amazon isn’t going to make anyone fork over their hard-earned cash to buy your book. You still have things to learn.
If, however, you’re getting agent requests, even if they ultimately reject the book, you might be ready to give this a shot. Likewise, if you’ve gotten rights reversions to a bunch of previously published books, you are in the best position of ALL.
Scribe: What are some of the challenges and benefits of self-publishing?
DR: The biggest challenge is one people don’t think about: Am I cut out for this?
I see a lot of authors with one finished manuscript spending quite a bit of money to prepare it for market, only to become disillusioned right away when it only sells to friends and family. A truly successful self-publisher is not a one-hit wonder. The single home runs are as rare as the debut novelist who gets a six-figure deal. It happens, definitely, but it is the exception that everyone talks about, not the rule. Most writers won’t really figure out what they are doing, or have enough books on their shelf to run successful promotions, until they have three books, preferably related or in a series.
The benefits are enormous. I live my life the way I want. When I feel pressure to meet a deadline or if life gets in the way of my work, I can simply rearrange my schedule. When we realized this last August that the changes at Amazon were harming new releases, I delayed my next three titles. They are going out in October now and I took a little vacation.
I set my own prices and decide what to write, when to write it, and what pen name I want to use. I collaborate with other authors, trade beta reads, hang out with fans, and if I decide a book didn’t turn out the way I wanted, I just pull it off the digital shelf and keep it for a time when I want to revise and try it again. I have definitely had more clunker ideas than good ones!
None of this is easy, but neither is trying to write while you have a full-time job. I have weeks where I work 12-hour days, definitely. But then I have weeks where I do little more than glance at my daily sales and go shopping. I make my own rules, and I live by my own standards. It’s amazing. It’s the most incredible life I could have ever imagined.