In 2005, I wrote a weird book. A really weird book that no one knew what to do with, including me.
My pigeonhole at the time was Historical Romance. I’d gotten a good agent, and she was shopping my novel. I was working on a follow up, but I didn’t want to write a story about dukes or balls. I wanted to write a novel about war and magic. So that’s what I did.
The novel that became STEEL AND SONG: Book 1 in the Aileron Chronicles flowed right out of me. My then-agent was baffled by it. It wasn’t a paranormal romance. It wasn’t epic fantasy. It was somewhere to the left of what was considered marketable: a dieselpunk romance with magic and war. A heroine who was mouthy and a hero who was a coward. In other words, never going to sell.
So I left the draft on a flashdrive (how quaint!) thinking that was that. I started working for book packagers, ghost writing several YA novels. My day job became very intense. Writing novels was taking a back seat, and honestly, the stuff I was writing wasn’t singing to me anymore. Even though I was the co-founder of a highly regarded writing community, my love for the industry and for writing had taken a beating. I needed to check out for a while.
When I checked back in, in late 2013, I found that the entire publishing industry had changed. Self-publishing, once scorned as vanity presses, was taking off. Writer friends who’d been dropped by their publishers were making decent to great money going it alone. Best of all, they were writing and publishing books that they wanted to write, weird books that didn’t sit comfortably on the standard shelves and people were buying them.
I’d never forgotten my weird book. The dieselpunk-romance-war novel featured some of the most vivid characters spawned by my imagination. And honestly? The thought of spending months, even years shopping my novel again made me break out in hives. I wasn’t going to do it. I was done waiting.
With lots of encouragement, I began to explore the world of self-publishing, and realized very quickly that it was the answer I’d been waiting for.
What I like best about self-publishing is the control I have over my work. I can collaborate with amazing editors. I can find great cover designers and work with them until I’m satisfied that the cover represents my vision for the book. The deadlines and goals I work toward are the ones I set myself. Best of all, a book that I thought would never see the light of day is finding readers.
For authors who write weird books that straddle genres (or bookshelves), self-publishing has offered opportunities that didn’t exist before, which I find incredibly exciting.
Ani Bolton is the author of the Gisbornes of Nottingham trilogy and the novelette LADY CRISPELL AND THE DREAD MAGICIAN. You can connect with her on Twitter, her , , and .