Self-publishing started on the fringes of the publishing industry, but in the last year specifically, self-published authors and self-publishing have gained enormous ground. In July 2012 Penguin acquired self-publishing start-up Author Solutions for $116 Million, and in November Simon & Schuster partnered with Author Solutions to form self-publishing imprint Archway Publishing. Likewise, E.L. James’ 35 million copy-selling Fifty Shades of Grey was originally self-published before Random House ultimately scooped it up to record sales.
Houston-based author Chinedu Achebe may well join the ranks of James with his debut novel Blunted on Reality. Borrowing the title from the album of the same name by ’90s superstar rap group The Fugees, Achebe says he was inspired by the “very direct and honest lyrics of their songs” which he says connected to a dominant theme in his book. “Everyone is trying to put labels on who we are, when [in] reality we all fit into a lot of different segments of society.”
Achebe says of his book, which is specifically based on the historic 2008 victory of President Barack Obama, “I wanted to create a storyline that allowed first generation Africans in the United States, and their immigrant parents, to give their own perspective of what President Obama meant to them and what his possible impact would be for the continent of Africa,” Achebe explains. The Nigerian-American Achebe, no relation to Things Fall Apart author Chinua Achebe, wrote the book in about a year.
Why did you choose to self-publish Blunted on Reality?
I chose to self publish my book because telling my story and getting it out was the most important thing to me. Since I am not a full time writer [I am a tax auditor], I didn’t have time to write letters to different publishing houses to see if they would want my manuscript. I did a lot of research into different self publishing companies before I decided on the company that I went with.
Please share the details of your self-publishing process.
The self -publishing process was interesting because I to pretty much decide every aspect of the book from the fonts to the book cover. I actually saw an image on the internet that I felt went with the message I was trying to conveny with the book. The editing process was interesting and something that was a learning experience for me. It took about 1.5 months from finishing the editing process to holding the book in my hands. The name of the self-piublishing company I used was Quality Press and I paid for all the costs of publishing and editing my book along with getting my own ISBN number.
Would you recommend other writers go the self-publishing route?
I would recommend other writers to go the self publishing route because it helps they learn hands on how the publishing business works from writing the book to the different ways and outlets to get your book distributed.
What’s the biggest revelation you’ve had about the publishing business in your experience publishing Blunted on Reality?
Probably that writing the book is the easiest part of the process. Actually promoting and marketing the book is a very hard and slow process especially when you are a first time author and nobody knows who you are. Also that just because you have friends and family on Twitter and Facebook that doesn’t mean any of them will actually buy your book.
What advice do you have for authors currently contemplating whether or not to seek publication from a traditional publisher or self-publish?
I would tell any person regardless of the route they choose to just enjoy writing your book and don’t worry too much about how many sales they will have. If any author’s sole purpose is to only get on the New York Times Best Sellers List and get rich then they are writing for the wrong reasons.