Words of a Wordsmith
(The journey from writer to author.)
Michael Schwartz is a horror/thriller author who I met on Facebook. When asked to share his publishing experience with me Michael was quick to accept and quick to respond. If you have a manuscript and you’re not sure what to do next please read Michaels’ experience. Equally important, Michael is a ‘Super Encourager.’ His voice regularly is heard on social media as a singular cheerleader for all writers. Approachable and genuine, if you have any questions he will give his time to answer them… Please allow me to introduce my guest blogger this week. Michael B. Schwartz.
Self-publishing, my journey.
After several years of searching and praying for an agent for The Dreamkiller, I bought a book that recommended Booklocker. I never once thought I was selling out by going this route. After a few short days, they agreed to get my novel out to the world – they formatted it and supplied the ISBN. I was in charge of my own editing which, looking back, wasn’t the best idea as I missed errors that should have been caught.
That left the cover. Back then, my niece was taking graphic arts class in high school and she agreed to make my cover (I actually loved it – still do) but Booklocker declined her work saying there were issues with the bleed and it wouldn’t work with their printers. They had a rabbit up their sleeve and told me for an extra $200 they would supply a cover artist. I already paid close to $500 to Booklocker. But I was young and determined to have my book read so I waited an extra 5 months to finalize the cover and come up with the money.
All in all, from their first acceptance to produce the book, to my first proof copy reaching my hands, it took around 7 months.
Like all self-publishing, I was in charge of my own marketing and that was what hurt me the most. I was relatively new to the whole marketing thing so all I could do was share my link on Facebook a couple of times, create a free website which I had no business doing, and use word-of-mouth. At the time, only family and coworkers bought my book and I can easily say it was under 20 sold.
I will say that my lack of marketing came from life. I was working insane hours at the metal stamping factory and my children were young. Add to that, I really wasn’t comfortable with the whole social media platform. Yes, I had Facebook, but my list of friends were small and they were family who already knew about the book.
I went ahead with my plan anyway and had published Forbidden Realms, and The Dream Crusades through Booklocker and hoped for the best.
Every year I had to pay $18 per year per book just to keep it listed on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and several other places but after so many years and zero sales, I took Forbidden Realms and The Dream Crusades down and kept The Dreamkiller.
Now we move forward 12 years and the world of social media has become this giant lifeform of its own.
Ever since December 2022, my author page has flourished beyond my wildest dreams. Through this enormous group of supporters that I did not have 12 years ago, my book has gained new life. Of course you know how this works, so I won’t bore you with me explaining the wonderful world of social media.
My plan is to reactivate Forbidden Realms once I get enough in royalties to cover the $125 cost. At this writing, I have sold 9 books. It’s not a lot but way back when, I had released the series at one title per year. I’m content to keep promoting until then.
My story may scare off some to the world of self-publishing; I merely wanted to show the difference between then and now.
Back then, Amazon was a pretty new platform so I’m not sure it would have been possible to have a book on their site as an indie author by myself (I could be wrong, but it just seemed that way). I knew next to nothing about formatting back then (even now, I’m still learning) and there wasn’t a lot of help in how to format a specific way. There was a limited amount of specifications back then. And don’t get me started with cover design.
Almost my entire tax return went into publishing, formatting, and cover design but it was well worth it.
Now, we have control of formatting (there’s even more on-line help with formatting) and there’s even programs we can get (some free) that you can make your own covers. On top of all that, you can upload it directly to Amazon without having to pay a third party to do it for you.
Could I re-release The Dreamkiller, Forbidden Realms, and The Dream Crusades myself through Amazon since I own the rights to the book and cover? I considered it but there’s that little voice in the back of my head that’s whispering what-if’s. What if I missed something in my contract and they can sue me?
What’s my future plans with self publishing? Will I continue with Booklocker?
First and foremost, if/when the world can enjoy my trilogy, my time with Booklocker is over. I hope I can gain enough to reactivate the other two books and completely cease them after a year or two (depending on sales). I plan on learning how to create my own cover (talking with people who have done it helps) and then I will be publishing one of two novels – not too sure at this point. Anthropomorphism or Iblis will be next on my list.
The writing market is too slim for us authors to worry about whether or not we’ll get a traditional publisher to look our way. We all have stories to tell. We have a job to do – so get writing, my friends.
To purchase on of Michael’s book please follow the link!
To follow Michael’s journey click on the link and hit his follow button, he will be happy you’re there!