As "The Bastard Gods" makes its way through editing, I've started writing the final installment of The Chronicles of Fu Xi (TCOFX), called "The Children of Fu Xi". Its likely to be my final self-published book. After that, I either publish traditionally or I don't publish. Here's my reasoning.
I set out to write a complete epic fantasy series. When Book 4 is published, I will have completed my quest. I did it my way. Has it been a commercial success? Hell no. I've lost money, and I will continue to lose money on the series. I will never make back my editing costs, advertising costs, and lots of other costs. I accept that, and I'm good with it. I proved I could not only write an epic fantasy novel, but I could write a series. It's a good series. I'm proud of it.
After I complete TCOFX, I have no further need to publish. I will continue to write, but I have no need to publish. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (actually, two. Thank you, Helen!)
Self-publishing, if done correctly, is expensive and exhausting. If you're going to do it to make money, you have to write well and write for specific markets. If you are not writing for a market, you'll lose money. The markets are flooded, getting noticed is difficult for even good books. For traditionally published authors, that kind of writing is hard. For self-published authors, its brutally hard. I deeply respect writers who do it.
It became clear early on that the TCOFX doesn't cleanly fit in a specific genre, or market. There is nothing like it out there on the shelves. The series is its own comp. I feel confident stating I created something unique, with high quality, and I did it on my terms. Traditional publishers told me they thought it was good, but it wasn't what they were looking for. They didn't know where it fit. That's cool. They're venture capitalist, and desire a return on their investment. Several publishers told me I would have to change key story elements for them to consider it. Nope. It is now and, when finished, an uncompromised work.
My small experience with traditional publishing has been mostly positive. It's nice to have an editor. Its nice to have a publicist. Its nice to see your books in book stores. It doesn't relieve the author of their responsibilities to promote their own book, but it gives one a solid platform with which to stand. If I publish again, I'd rather have that experience.
However, I do dislike pitching and sending queries. Rejections suck. Having publishers tell me I have to completely change my story to fit some kind of trendy social agenda sucks. I'm wide open to suggestions (in fact, the title "Black Sea Gods" was a publisher suggestion!) I'm just not open to suggestions that are not literary or quality driven. I'll have to get used to that again, because it comes with the territory.
I believe my story ideas and works in progress beyond TCOFX are more marketable. They fit more neatly on the shelves. I think a few of them might stand a chance with a publisher. What I have now, which I didn't have in 2011 when I started this journey is a quality body of work, and a realistic perspective on the publishing world. I also have a sense of peace.
If one of my manuscripts gets published, fine. If they don't, that's fine, too. All I really have to do is write, and that's a wonderful thing.
What lies before me now is the quest to bring the Chronicles of Fu Xi to a satisfying conclusion. I hope you will stick with me for the rest of the journey.