peeps: S.W. Hubbard
A Morristown, New Jersey, resident who “teaches creative writing to enthusiastic teens and adults, and expository writing to reluctant college freshmen,” S.W. Hubbard (Susan) is the author and self-publisher of the mystery, Another Man’s Treasure. She is also the author of three other traditionally published mass market paperback mysteries, all set in the Adirondacks, where her family built a vacation home on the banks of the East Branch of the AuSable River, and where Susan spent many happy hours exploring.
A number of her short stories have also appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and the anthologies Crimes by Moonlight and Adirondack Mysteries. She is currently working on a sequel to Another Man’s Treasure.
How Susan Got Started Self-Publishing
After landing and fulfilling her traditional three book deal, Susan’s publisher, Pocket Books, decided to scrap its mystery line. She wasn’t worried; she had broken into the genre before, so how hard could it be to get back in with a different publisher? Her agent wasn’t too enthusiastic about that idea, however. “Write something different,” her agent said. “There’s no market for traditional mysteries.”
But she liked writing mysteries! So she did another, but this time around, something a bit different from the police procedurals she did previously. Different enough that although the New York publishers she and her agent shopped the book to loved it, they wouldn’t take it on. No idea how to market it, essentially.
Instead of reworking the book into something more market standard, Susan said to heck with it, she’ll publish it herself. So she did.
Not carelessly, mind you. Susan paid attention to her agent, who cautioned that the marketplace is brutal, that it’d be difficult to attract attention and that she’d need to do all her own promotion. True. However, “traditionally published mid-list authors face all the same challenges,” Susan reasons. “They get no support from their publishers, have to do all their own promotion, receive miniscule advances, and rarely make any money. What’s more, they live under the constant threat of being dropped by their publishers.”
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “Avid readers who want access to a wide range of books in every genre will buy online. Casual readers who want to pick up a beach or airplane read or mainstream bestseller will buy at Wal-Mart, Target and Costco. Bookstores, for better or worse, will become increasingly irrelevant.”
- “The big publishers will be focused on acquiring books that they can sell in those mainstream outlets. Indie publishing will supply targeted niches. While this trend offers great opportunity for self-pubbed authors, we face huge challenges in trying to connect our books with the right readers.”
- “While the Big 6 New York publishers are no longer the gatekeepers to readers, the truth is, readers need some kind of filtering system to separate the wheat from the chaff among the hundreds of thousands of books published each year. Reading takes time, and readers are not going to waste their time on a bad book just because it’s cheap or free.”
- “New gates are emerging: the most popular websites and blogs that promote free books on Amazon are now requiring books to have a certain number of 4 & 5 star reviews before they will be featured on the site. Quality matters. No amount of tweeting, pinning, blogging, liking, and giving away can compensate for a badly written book. The first step in becoming a successful self-pubbed author is this: write a great book. Step 2: get verification from someone other than your loved ones that it really IS a great book before you hit the ‘publish’ button.“