iUniverse author C.C. Rae has kindly written to iUniverse to give a review about her publishing experience. C.C.’s book, Hidden Magic, is a sci-fi/fantasy thriller and is making great strides — it can now be found on the shelves at Barnes & Noble! So here’s C.C. to discuss self-publishing and iUniverse . . .
Those of us who have self-published most likely know all too well the “traditional” way of publishing a book is anything but easy. In a system where you have to reach out to countless literary agents only to be rejected by form letters nine out of ten times like a lonely soul looking for a lover online, it is only natural for your self-confidence to form a symbiotic relationship with your manuscript. If an agent will just fall in love with it, represent your book to a publisher, validate your hard work and passion, well then that is when you will believe in yourself.
Unfortunately, when you’re working with a system that only sees you as a query letter and sales potential, chances are you won’t feel much like a human being with inherent value. As I worked hard toward becoming the best writer I could be, the option of self-publishing came to my attention thanks to a professor whose friend published through a company called iUniverse. I was still attending my community college earning my first English degree when I learned about iUniverse. It would be another two or three years before I graduated with my double Bachelors in English and Creative Writing, and in that time, I still coveted the idea of having a literary agent someday.
Somewhere along the way, however, I came to some incredibly significant realizations. The validation I sought from the publishing industry meant nothing. As a reader I come across books that just did not suit me. Let’s face it, we don’t love every single book we read. There were books I didn’t like — books that had been represented by agents who rejected me, published by one of the big name publishing houses that sit like shining castles atop the figurative hills of the publishing world. Even the best selling books can be hated by as many people as there are that adore them.
On top of that, the pool of literary agents out there is such a tiny sliver of people compared to the sea of readers consuming books, and somehow I was supposed to find even one who was going to — not just “like,” but absolutely love my book? It became clear to me how laughable that expectation was, and how desperately I had hung from it for so many years. For years I had denied myself the one thing I needed and deserved: belief in myself.
Thankfully, I had someone with completely biased and unyielding support for my dream, my dad, who would not shut up about the option of self-publishing from the moment he heard about it. He already had it all figured out; I just needed to catch up, and I did. I had allowed the industry’s opinion of self-published authors to scare me away from it. Nevertheless, by the time I had my degree from the University of Arizona I had my mind made up. My dream was for me, and for me to validate. As cocky as it sounds, I knew people would love my books. First, it is a matter of the odds; odds are that there are people out there (specific figures unknown) who will love it, and likewise there will be people who will not. Secondly, I knew because I had painstakingly crafted my books for a notoriously picky fantasy reader: me.
This is where iUniverse comes in. It had always been there through the years, waiting patiently while I toyed with the idea, studied its publishing packages, and held out for some miraculous validating literary agent to defy the odds and see my book’s potential from a single page query letter and whisk me away to a traditional publishing house. After graduating and working one last overhaul on the first book in my series, I chose my publishing package and signed my contract with iUniverse.
Now I’ve never published a book the traditional way, mind you, but it seems pretty clear to me that as an author your relationship with the traditional publisher is very different from your relationship with a self-publisher. With a traditional publisher, you get an offer because someone has determined that your book is a viable product. There are expectations that your book will do well, at every turn you’re probably hoping that you and your book live up to this expectation — just the idea is nerve-wracking. I have enough expectations for myself without adding more from a publishing company trying to employ hundreds of people and keep the industry going.
With iUniverse, I had a very different relationship. From day one, I was working with people who were there to help me turn my dream into a reality, and the best part was that I fronted to cost of the whole process and I knew they cared about delivering for me. Rather than me and my book living up to expectations for some big publisher, iUniverse was there to meet my expectations — and they certainly did.
In my years of research while trying to break into the traditional publishing system, I discovered a little gem of knowledge called the 90/10 Rule. This says that 90% of the authors signed by a publishing house earn them only 10% of their profits, while the other 10% of authors — those authors whose names are often bigger than their book titles and are always on the big display tables at the book stores — earn the publishing houses 90% of their profits. As a debut author in that world, I would have been an insignificant tiny fish in a vast ocean. I don’t know how true this rule is, but I do know that at iUniverse I can say that I was just as valued as every other author working with them because we all come to the table with a dream and the finances to make it happen. It is not about what we can do for iUniverse, but what they can do for us.
The team of consultants, designers and editors at iUniverse were there to turn my vision into a reality. I didn’t have to sign away any control. Every decision was mine to make; and along the way I was given sound advice from people who have worked in the industry for years.
Today I am the proud author of a self-published book currently in more than twenty Barnes & Noble locations. During the publishing process, I earned both the Editor’s Choice Award and Rising Star designation. At the end of this year’s 2nd quarter I became eligible for the Star Program after selling more than 600 copies of my book. My book Hidden Magic is sitting among traditionally published titles in the New Science Fiction & Fantasy section of B&N stores. It is accessible on Amazon.com, which made it possible for a reader even in Poland to acquire. To be an author on people’s personal bookshelves is the most incredible honor; it is the culmination of years of hard work¾with the help of iUniverse — which helped me realize that I didn’t need permission, or validation, to make my dream a reality.
Author of Hidden Magic
Many thanks to C.C. for sharing her iUniverse experience. We congratulate her on all of the great progress of Hidden Magic, and can’t wait to hear more excellent news!