Since Kristene Perron first self-published her sci-fi novel Warpworld in 2012, she’s been inundated by a seemingly endless stream of fledgling writers looking to follow in her footsteps. That didn’t strike her as especially surprising. What did catch her attention was when established authors who had already been through the traditional process came knocking.
“Traditional authors are starting to think about crossing over too. There’s obviously a need for this,” said Perron, who is hosting a two-day intensive workshop at Oxygen Art Centre on Nov. 15 and 16. She said there’s a lot to keep in mind when considering self-publishing, and you should weigh the pros and cons.
“The pros are definitely that you have a lot of freedom and control. You might not get as many readers, but you don’t need as many because you’re keeping the bulk of the profit. The con is that it’s definitely a waiting game, and you have to think long term. You have to be prepared to spend years investing in yourself and not see much return.”
Perron said she was speaking at a science fiction convention recently, and all the panelists had the same reason for pursuing self-publishing.
“They all say they knew they had a good manuscript, but they’ve been through the traditional process and were told it’s not marketable,” she said, noting that a typical book needs to make tens of thousands of dollars in sales before it breaks a profit.
“I knew, with Warpworld, that once our manuscript hit a publisher they were going to ask us to make a lot of story changes and I think that does a disservice to the readers,” she said.
That’s why she’s hoping to encourage more writers to try her route.
“What I’ve tried to do is package it all together into an intensive course, so that I can teach everything you need to know to get started.”
Perron wasn’t so lucky when she was first starting out in her career. She taught herself layout, design, marketing and even social media.
“I’ve learned everything for myself by trial and error. Reading articles, spending hours and hours on the Internet trying to decide what was the best course,” she said.
That may be easier said than done, though, because there are a number of “unscrupulous” people and companies looking to take advantage of naive writers, she said.
“I think what happens is people publish and when they don’t see the sales coming in, they get disheartened and they panic. You need someone there to say ‘it’s okay, that’s normal’. It’s a big paradigm shift that people have to understand,” she said.
But if there’s one part of the book-publishing process you’re struggling with, there’s plenty of help to be found online.
“Nowadays, because of the Internet, you can contract out everything. For Warpworld we have an editor, a copy editor, a substantive editor, a designer, a layout person and a person for ebook formatting,” she said.
This contradicts the widely held belief, Perron said, that self-publishing requires the author to pick up additional skill sets.
“You can collaborate. It can be fun. It’s a great way to network and meet people.”
Perron is planning a six-hour schedule for each day, with a break for lunch and to vote in the municipal election.
“Everyone’s going to learn a ton regardless of what their writing goals are,” she said.
For more information email Perron at email@example.com or visit oxygenartcentre.org.