My second reason for choosing to self publish is my first readers, or I should say, first listeners. About thirty years ago, after reading lots of fantasy to my boys, I decided to read them MY fantasy, STAR OPENING. The loved it, naturally. Sweet little boys.
For the past three decades, every once in a while one of my sons tells me I ought to publish that story. I keep telling him, “I’m trying.” In the past three decades, the fantasy genre has also changed a great deal as well as been swamped. Our family still likes fantasy.
After several revisions, I mailed it (yes, those poor trees) to an agent who ALSO loved it and sent me a contract for the SERIES. I had several other manuscripts written with the same characters, but knew they needed revisions. The original (no copies) one-page contract was on her husband’s business letter-head paper, with only a line on a second page letter-head page with my name typed under it, saying, “sign here.” I decided to take the contract to a lawyer who said it didn’t look like any contract he’d seen before, and could he could write them. I said yes. Within a week I received my manuscript back with a “no longer interested.” I’m guessing I was her first client contact, because I now know the story really needed work, plus she was new back then and has been in the agent business ever since, probably not sending out contracts on her husband’s letterhead.
In the past twenty-five years, that story has undergone tons of changes. I’ve taken classes, attended conferences, read a semi-load worth of books on the craft of writing, followed blogs, listservs, and forums. The story has gone through two critique groups, one group twice, and several beta readers. At each writers conference, although I had written many others over the year, I usually pitched this story — my first love — to the editors and agents. After each conference, I took their advice and rewrote the novel according to their suggestions… with a “no, thanks” about ten months later. I totally cut out one of the main characters — my own conclusion. I changed the names of the characters and title, many times. One editor told me the alien speach sounded too earthly, so I changed it. Rejection. When an editor told me most writers he critiques he needs to tell to cut out the frivolous first chapter or two, but I needed to “ground” my readers before getting right into the action. I added, then deleted, two first chapters. Then two other first chapters, and deleted. I changed from 3rd person to 1st person to alternating POV chapters. About four years ago, a man told me his 10-year-old daughter loved fantasies. She read the manuscript and told me it made her top ten list of best books, booting out LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. (Yet another sweet little kid.)
All this is to say, my #2 reason for self-publishing is for my first reader-listeners, my two wonderfully encouraging sons, and for any other sweet little kids who love fantasy.