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Why, After 12 Books, I’m Self-Publishing ‘The Goat’

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

After a dozen traditionally published books (ten fiction, two non-fiction), for the first time, I am self-publishing my new novel. It's called  THE GOAT and is just now available for pre-sale on Kindle with paperback and hardcover to follow. The official publication of all versions is September 1, 2019, in conjunction with the US Tennis Open.


The Amazon blurb begins this way:

Whatever happened to Dan Gelber - the divorced screenwriter who journeyed to Nepal in his seventies only to plunge to his death off of Mt. Everest?

And just who is Jay Reynolds - the mysterious twenty-year-old tennis prodigy who appears out of nowhere to battle Rafael Nadal at the French Open and Roger Federer at Wimbledon and become the new hope of American tennis, possibly "the greatest of all time"?

Award-winning mystery writer (Moses Wine series) and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter ("Enemies, A Love Story," "The Big Fix". "Bustin' Loose,"), Roger L. Simon answers these questions and more in THE GOAT, his first standalone novel in years.

Why am I self-publishing?  Aside from the obvious publishing world bias against anyone to the right of Trotsky (this is particularly true for fiction; there are several good conservative venues for non-fiction), I have real reasons for having decided, after all these years and books, to self-publish. And not just because it's clearly the wave of the future.

I believe in free markets and self-publishing is entrepreneurial.  You get a greater hand in your own creative destiny, even if it's more of a gamble.

The author foregoes a publisher's advance for a significantly larger piece of the revenue pie and control of production, pricing, and marketing.  Of course, that means paying for everything yourself from the cover design to formatting to ads.


Speaking of which, I recall asking (begging) publishers for ads on more than one occasion and being told: "Ads don't sell books."  When I replied, "But what about using my [in those cases stellar] reviews?" I was informed, "Reviews don't sell books."  When I queried, "Then what sells books?"  Silence.

Enough of that.  I'll make that call for myself from now on, thank you.

Surprisingly, and more importantly, self-publishing tends to make the book itself better - at least it did for me.  How's that?  Don't publishers have editors?  Yes, and often good ones, but they don't, in the end, hold a candle to the "beta readers" you assemble when self-publishing. ("Beta readers" are as they sound - people who read and comment on early versions.)

At a publishing house, you're lucky to have three or four people actually read your book before it's published, not counting the marketing folks who often just look at the blurb. (Also re: marketers/publicists, well-intentioned though they may be, what they typically do is ask you whom you know and then they, the publicists, reach out to them for reviews, interviews, etc.- something you could do just as easily and--if you have the moxie--more effectively for yourself.)


By the time I finished my final version of THE GOAT, I had had close to two dozen of these beta readers.  They came from all walks of life--from real estate brokers to tennis partners--not just literary types.

The betas were real readers in the consumer sense and their feedback was invaluable, although occasionally painful, to me. They pushed me and helped me make the book better. I owe it to them that I now believe THE GOAT is my best and most perfected book.

Sure, you could replicate this method voluntarily under the traditional process, but you are less likely to do so.  The imprimatur of the publishing house (you think) is enough.  But being out on your own forces you, forced me, to do better work, if only to avoid embarrassment.

Admittedly, self-publishing could be easier for me than some since I have a web presence.  Having co-founded PJMedia and been a blogger since Instapundit came up the Tennessee River from Knoxville, I am not simply pitching my book into the vast ocean of the Internet, just sort of skimming it in and hoping for the best.  But in the larger sense, I trust readers.  If it's a good story, in the end, they will find it.

Not that I don't want to give them some help.  So in this new spirit of entrepreneurship, and in the interest of getting a raft of Amazon reviews, I am offering the pre-publication Kindle version at a discounted $2.99. Get it while you can.  If reviews are good, the price will go up to the equivalent of courtside seats at the Open... Well, not quite. :)


Roger L. Simon - co-founder and CEO Emeritus of PJMedia - is an award-winning novelist and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter.  His new novel - THE GOAT - is available for Kindle pre-sale on Amazon, paperback and hardcover to follow September 1.

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