Normally, I have a dim view of self-publishing. Back in the day, it was called “vanity publishing,” and I believe that it held that title for a reason. Perhaps it is because I work at a bookstore that is owned by a publisher, but I think publishers play a very important role in finding and producing quality books. When a book is self-published, my first thought is usually, “I bet it’s so bad, no publisher would touch it.”
Some of the self-published books that we sell in our store bear me out in this.
Musician and storyteller, Andrew Peterson, started a children’s fantasy series a few years back called the Wingfeather Saga. The first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, caught my attention and didn’t give it back. It won a Christy Award (a fancy Christian book award) and looked to have a promising run. It was published by a well-known publisher. The next book in the series, North! Or Be Eaten, also won a Christy Award. And then something strange happened.
The publisher dropped the series. They weren’t going to publish book three. I was heartbroken.
I mean, Peterson is a gift storyteller and the story was only halfway through. How could they not publish the rest of the series?
Fortunately, Peterson decided to self-publish book three, The Monster in the Hollows, making it available on his website. My wife and I bought the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was nothing in the book that would have given any publisher pause to sell it into bookstores. The previous books in the series had won awards, and the author has quite a platform as a touring musician. On paper, all the components for book success were there. But Peterson had to self-publish it anyway.
That was a couple of years ago now. My wife and I have been waiting on pins and needles for the final book in the series to come out. I assumed that Peterson would just self-publish it again, put the word out on his website, and see it people would buy it after it was produced. Instead, he started a Kickstarter campaign for book four, The Warden and the Wolf King. Being on his email list, I got notification of the Kickstarter so I checked it out right away. Peterson needed $14,000 within one month in order to publish the book. The way the campaign works, if people pledge money but the minimum threshold isn’t met, no one pays and the campaign fails. But if the campaign is over funded, then the author can now fund more cool things.
When I told my wife about the Kickstarter the following day, we decided to sign up and make sure that the fourth book could be produced. But when we clicked over the page, lo and behold, it was already over funded. In fact, now it is massively over funded and some of the “stretch goals” are now funded as well. So, the book is definitely happening, and it is well on track to become a hardcover and an audio book as well. I can’t tell you that you can get in on the ground floor of this campaign anymore, but I can tell you that you need to join up anyway.