peeps: R.M. ArceJaeger
A computer scientist with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science (with distinction!) from Harvey Mudd College, R.M. ArceJaeger is also an author and publisher. Not surprising, the latter, considering that she was named a 2005 California Arts Scholar for excellence in Creative Writing as well.
She says she’s been writing books since she was five years old, doing “campfire horror stories to fantasy epics.” But as should be readily apparent from the books she’s written and published — Robin: Lady of Legend (The Classic Adventures of the Girl Who Became Robin Hood) and A Stepmother’s Story: The TRUE Tale of Cinderella — she gets a lot of enjoyment getting us to look at classic stories in a whole new light. Or, as she puts it, she “particularly adores twisting classic tales in directions that no one has ever thought of before.”
How R.M. Got Started Self-Publishing
That meant research and due diligence. Quite unusual frankly, what with most authors simply throwing their hard work immediately at agents and publishers, hoping for a bite. But good for R.M., as her stories show, that she likes to look at things a little differently.
She, of course, learned a few things. “I was shocked by what I found,” she reports. “Authors published through traditional means tend to make only 5% royalties, and they forfeit all control over their title, cover, movie rights, etc. That’s not even counting all the time it takes to get an agent, a publisher, and then to actually get published (usually 2+ years).”
It was probably more of a jaw dropper when she learned of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program and compared the above with KDP’s terms and features. “If I self-published through Kindle… I would make 70% royalties and retain all control over my book, and it could be published in as little as 24 hours.”
No contest. “To put the royalty difference in perspective, it would be like making a $5,000 salary versus a $70,000 salary. There was no comparison!” That’s, of course, assuming your book sells without the traditional publishing marketing machine’s help. Considering Robin won 2nd place in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest and is an Amazon bestseller, it’d be a pretty good assessment that it’s got that assumption well-covered.
The clincher to make the leap? No risk at all, in all probability. “I didn’t have to pay any money to publish on Kindle. Also, because I retained all my rights, I could still submit my book the ‘traditional’ way if my self-publishing efforts failed.“
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “Self-publishing (especially e-publishing) seems so easy and lucrative that it’s tempting to want to rush the process. Grammar, spelling, and a good storyline are just as important in a self-published work as they are in a traditional book. Actually, they’re more so, since the only credit you’ll have with readers are whatever reviewers say about you.”
- “If you have a good book but poor formatting, your readers will leave poor reviews. Likewise, your book can look beautiful, but if there are too many plot holes, your readers won’t be impressed. Your book has to do well in both arenas to be a success.”
- “When you self-publish, you can’t just be an author — you have to be editor, publisher, and publicity specialist, too.”
- “I know a lot of writers like to write their manuscripts and then send them to their agent, trusting the publishing company’s editor to help them revise their weak points and fix all their grammatical errors. When you self-publish, though, you’re responsible for all that. Many self-published authors engage the services of a professional content editor as well as a line editor to help them with this task.”
- “Whatever you choose, just remember that to successfully self-publish, you have to put in as much effort to the non-writing portions of publishing as you do to the act of story creation itself.”