After writing stories for free on Wattpad since 2014, someone invited me to join a contest to submit my stories. When I did, they offered me a contract, which I didn’t expect and I turned it down.
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In the past few months, something unexpected happened. Someone reached out to me via Wattpad message, an invitation to write a story and submit it to a certain email.
At the time, a publishing company based in Singapore conducted a contest to invite more aspiring authors to share their stories in exchange for around a thousand dollars.
$1,000, my friend!
Of course, it was attractive. As naive as I am when it comes to the publishing industry and how everything works, I submitted 2 unpublished stories I kept and waited for a response from their review team.
Within a couple of days of waiting, they emailed me back with a different offer. Instead of informing that my works were one of the winning entries, they told me they want to have me a paid author.
A lowly paid author who will only receive… *drum rolls *
Not for a decent amount. Why has this happened?
Obviously, my work wasn’t as impressive as others (in their eyes, I guess). So, they placed my works in Level C compensation, which has the lowest pay among the others.
“Deadly” 28-Page Contract
Not only should I receive the amount worth of my works for $3, but I also have to agree with their strict terms and conditions I found to be disturbing. They gave me a 28-page contract which looks like a big company would give to artists.
From the lengthy terms, I noticed something. I felt a painful hit in my stomach, a gut feeling, this wouldn’t be a good idea to sign.
To confirm if my feeling was right, I let my husband read the contract and he, too, doesn’t want me to sign it.
“F***k it!” he sputtered. “This [contract] looks like some big music companies give to artists and exploit them.”
The moment I heard his reaction, I realized what could have been if I signed it. I could be enslaved to the contract for 5 years with a low payment from my story.
Sounds bad, right?
Plus, they don’t want to give me a percentage of the royalties from my works if it’s published locally.
The only thing they could do was send me a hard copy of my story, which is just a few bucks for shipping. That’s it. Nothing else.
If I signed, they might have taken my pen name, too, and register on their system. That means I can’t use my pen name for self-publishing and other publishing rights. That sucks.
They wanted the sole control of my works i.e. revising the title they want, editing the chapters to how they want it, and the list goes on.
What Should You Do As An Author?
For sure, as an author, you don’t want that much revision on your works, right? Even if you haven’t published anything both digital and printed, you don’t want to have others have full control of your work.
That’s your work. Your story. Your imagination. Your soul. Your sweat and tears. You may have spent months of writing and revising the stories and here’s this company, who wanted to take it from you. Piece by piece.
And you don’t want that to happen.
This is why most authors prefer to have their books self-published, although it’s an expensive choice. You have to be your own publishing company.
- You make a budget for book publishing.
- You hire the professionals who will work with you to make sure you don’t publish crap on bookstores (both digital and printed).
- You publish the book by yourself.
- You do the marketing on your own.
- You do everything a publishing company does by tradition.
It sounds stressful; however, you may wonder why authors prefer self-publishing than the traditional publishing method.
Why do they prefer spending $$$ instead of relying on companies who could do the same thing?
Self-Publishing Or Traditional Publishing? Which Is Better?
As I mentioned earlier, traditional companies may or may not want the full control of your work. You can’t guarantee the profits earned from your books are yours.
So you have to be extra careful when they give out contracts because if you don’t review it, you might end up losing your work for nothing in return.
Many companies out there exploit aspiring authors, who are the most vulnerable and naive.
In my case, the publishing company doesn’t want to share any royalties from my work if they’re getting sales from various sources (digital copies and physical books from bookstores).
If my stories succeed as one of the best on their list, they may want to publish it and enjoy the income by themselves. No percent goes for me, regardless if I try to negotiate with them (which I did).
To cut the story short, I declined the offer. I deleted my stories on their site. Afterward, I received an email from their team, asking me why I did.
I told them I want control of my stories and my pen name. I want to own M Gaspary as my brand as an author, as well as my work. Nobody else.
In the end, I didn’t keep in touch with them and kept writing without thinking of having it published.
Maybe I will someday. But after everything I experienced with this company, I learned a lot. And so do you.
What Are You Going To Do Next?
If my story is relatable to your personal experience as a fiction writer, then you can surely relate to my suggestions.
After all, the publishing industry works uniformly as it is thousands of years ago. Yet, you have to be acquainted with how the self-publishing industry works.
1. Test your stories first on Wattpad.
Test the waters first. That’s the very first thing you have to do. You will know if people will likely buy your stories if you test them out first on Wattpad.
It’s a free application intended to invite aspiring authors and published authors to share their stories around the world.
Based in Canada, they have published millions of stories and recently, they implemented the “Paid Stories Program” in which you can also monetize your stories even if you haven’t self-published it or made it available on bookstores.
If you’re an active member of any community with hundreds of thousands of active writers and readers engaging with each other, you’re likely to get massive reads sooner than those who aren’t actively engaging at all.
Simply by replying to dozens of forums, helping other authors to improve their work, exchanging stories to read and provide feedback, etc. you can attract more readers and increase reader engagement.
That’s exactly what I did for some of my published stories there and I find this strategy effective.
I could see the figures and determine which story has more reads and engagement. From there, I could also see which is better to self-publish and what not.
2. Continue writing to find your voice.
Your story is what makes you unique. We may have similar genres and techniques used to express the situation per chapter.
Yet, there are still differences with the way we write our literature. We’re different.
Your style makes you unique.
So, continue expressing your imagination regardless if there would be a publishing company approaching you or not. With that, I’m using Dabble Writer to write my stories.
I find it more convenient to use the writing application compared to Scrivener, which most authors and writers alike use.
Besides, I’m spending $9.99 per month which is nothing compared to almost $50 monthly costs for the other application.
If you’re also a NaNoWriMo winner like me, you can get a 50% discount from Dabble Writer for the whole year. So, you’re paying $4.99 per month while enjoying the incredible features they have.
You can see the list here.
What I love about Dabble Writer is that it’s easier for me to write and print my manuscript.
I don’t like to have a lot of unnecessary stuff crowding the workspace in software. I can easily print my work in a format acceptable for manuscripts.
Jacob Wright, the founder and creator of Dabble Writer, encourages easier printing of the books into the manuscript format in which most publishing companies and professional editors accept.
So, I don’t have to go through the hellish process on my word processor and let Dabble Writer do the formatting for me. That’s insane. If you would like to try it out, you can try it here.
Don’t think about money all the time.
It’s about telling a story. A story you want to read on bookstores and the work of art you want to share with the world.
Tell it and let the people read it and enjoy the crazy ride until the last page.
3. Prepare to self-publish.
This is where it gets tough because this isn’t about enjoying the writing per se. It’s about the serious side of the publishing industry.
This is usually where you have to think about the marketing and monetization of your work.
So, you have to think about the new title of your book ensuring it attracts your target readers, the layout of the book to entice readers to pick your book on the shelf, etc. In general, this is about $$$.
I have here the best 15 affiliate programs you might try as one of your side income hustles and make some bucks to start saving money for your book.
Self-publishing is expensive. VERY EXPENSIVE. Yet, it brings you a lot. It gives you the authority as a writer and a passive income from book sales on various sources, digital and printed. Most likely digital.
Regardless if you’re a fiction writer, blogger, or a freelance writer, having you as an author of something is a big deal. You aren’t a simple writer anymore.
You’re an author. You published something for the world. You contributed something licensed to everyone. You aren’t somebody else.
How do you prepare for self-publishing?
There are a few things you have to keep in mind for now. First, the money it entails to self-publish your work (to hire professional editors and layout artists to make sure your book does great).
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The second thing you need to do is to have to prepare your manuscript. You make sure that before you hire a professional editor to read through your work, you have edited it a thousand times.
You have to be satisfied with how each chapter goes before having someone read it and edit the whole thing.
To learn how I start writing my book, you can read this post here in which I went through the step-by-step process from page 1 until the last one.
This was the same suggestion my editor told me a few days ago. Before I hire her as my professional development editor, I have to go through my manuscript first and ensure that I’m already satisfied with the story from page 1 until the end.
To do that, you have to read the story over and over again after you completed the chapters.
Of course, it feels nice to finish a book. But that’s not yet the end.
You will set the book aside for months and read it again with a new perspective.
Write. Set aside for months. Reread and rewrite. (Do this system 10 times or more).
Like to hire a professional?
You can go to this site, which I highly recommend because of their incredible list of professionals in various fields available just fit for your publishing needs.
Living as a writer isn’t easy. It’s a world where most introverts love to stay because it’s comfortable. Especially for people like me.
It’s the only way for us to say the exact things others should hear from our mouths. We just can’t do it.
Instead, we rely on writing as a form of expression. We voice out our thoughts through various ways such as writing a blog post or a book. It can be in the form of non-fiction, self-help, or fiction.
Whatever we have in mind, just don’t let it stuck there forever. Release the craziness in you and let others enjoy the ride.
This is why I wrote this post to start an engagement towards the road of becoming a self-published author.
Hence, you can expect posts about side hustles aspiring authors can do to save more money for self-publishing expenses until the ways to hire professionals to work with us in our books.
All of these will be covered and focused in 2020. So, are you ready to join me in this challenge of self-publishing?
If yes, click the image below to start earning your first $500 as a writer and start saving money for your #GoAuthorGo project this year.
If you like this post, share your thoughts in the comment section below and share this post with your friends and family, who are also writers wanting to become authors. Thank you so much! 🙂