The mixture is not evenly balanced – without question it has been the right decision to self-publish, and I recommend serious consideration of this option to others with a manuscript sitting in a drawer somewhere. It is difficult to overstate how rewarding it is to see your work in print and on Amazon and most of all to receive unsolicited positive feedback from friends that goes well beyond the societal norms of politeness. My minimum aim was not to embarrass myself, and the next step up was for people to actually enjoy reading my book, and I think I have achieved those. So the Waldorf (or is it Statler?) shouting “Brilliant” is definitely louder than the Statler (or is it Waldorf?) shouting “Terrible”.
The downside is the realisation just how difficult it is to get any self-published work in front of a larger audience; to get it beyond that first wave of colleagues, friends and family. An orthodox publisher gets hundreds of copies of your book into bookshops around the world. Even a self-published author who is writing in a more established e-book field – sci-fi, romance, vampirey-werewolfy stuff – has a large pool of readers actively looking for exactly the style of book they have just written, particularly if they are willing to offer it for sale at a rock-bottom price. The routes to market for self-published middle-brow humorous Japanese historical fiction are less obvious, but that is not to say they do not exist. This blog, Amazon reviews, recommendations on other websites: these all help, and e-book sales in the US suggest word may be trickling out. But I could do with a kick-start, a bump to take awareness to the next level. Reviews in English language Japan-based magazines, which I am currently negotiating, may provide that.