Tuesday, January 6, 2009

On Self Publishing

At the request of a follower of the blog, I thought I would throw my 2 cents worth in on this.

Self publishing is always an option for writers, but I think for many, they fully don't understand all of the aspects of self-publishing as well as the pros and cons of this approach.

First of all, with self-publishing, it is entirely up to you as an author to work through the project. This includes not only the editing (although some places will provide some feedback) but marketing of the book. This, in no way means you will make more money because you don't have to pay someone. In fact, it often means a lot of extra work for you that you didn't know you would have to do.

Secondly, many authors believe that if they are self published this moves them further up the "food chain of publishing." In reality, it does nothing to move you and actually, in some cases, becomes a negative for you. If, for example, someone comes to me procaliming all of these books they have written, I do check to see where the books were produced. Many times I find people who are self published and the books have already been submitted to many editors and agents with a ton of rejections before they dove for that option.

Next, many authors will use the self publishing as a way to produce something that is far from ready for the market. In other words, the document is something that just will not sell (for whatever reason). Putting it with a self-published group doesn't suddenly make the story marketable.

Now, on the other side, the self-published market is great if you just want to see your book in a well formatted project. Sometimes, you simply want to produce a document that you are proud of. Nothing wrong with this approach.

The thing with self-publishing is:

a) you will not make more money than if you go through a publisher (without a heck of a lot of work and a very serious market for your book).

b) it does not make you a more marketable author when pushing other books.

c) it is a lot more work than you would imagine.

Still, it is an option.


  1. It would appear to me that self-publishing is either for those who don't have what it takes to query religiously and wait patiently, or for those who have given up seeking an agent.

    Some people say publishing is publishing. I like to believe that a difficult journey will bring much more satisfaction than an easy path. Although, ask me again in a year and I might have another thought....

    I enjoy your blog!
    Melissa aka Thinkhappy on The Women's Nest (and yes, a writer in the midst of querying)

  2. I'm going indie because the business model seems a bit more controllable as an author when compared to NY. It may appear to others than all writers who go the self-pub route is because they're vain, or don't want to "pay their dues," but there's more to the choice than meets the eye.

    I only recently made the decision to produce my fiction myself after realizing that chasing after NY and their narrow constraints grew fatiguing. I was constantly stressed, and for the past three years, began to start a manuscript with a little voice in the back of my head wondering if the book was worth writing if I was going to be told it was "unmarketable" due to the setting--without even a look at the plot or the writing.

    And honestly, if the odds for success through self-publishing is that much smaller than going through NY, why is the indie author sneered at? They've done thrice as much work to get their book to the public than the NY published author (the serious indie author knows about cover design, typesetting, promotion, accounting, etc--i.e.,the business side of publishing most authors have the luxury to ignore)--shouldn't their dedication be applauded? Shouldn't their tenaciousness in marketing their product to consumers be looked upon with favor? Particularly if it's successful.

    After all, don't most NY authors have to invest the majority of their advances in marketing as well? From my position on the fringes of published authors, they can be just as overwhelmed and helpless over getting their book in front of readers, and frustrated over the tepid responses, as a lot of published authors like to "warn" those interested in self-publishing will be in for.

    I get it, NY is the livelihood of agents and editors, but the prejudice against going indie is so pervasive and strong, and having those in the industry hash and rehash the same old "warnings" about indie publishing time and time again seem to discourage writers from at least just looking into other avenues of publishing before making a decision to go either way.

    All I know is that if I had known going indie was a viable option--not one that is poo-pooed by so many struggling writers as "cheating"--I would have saved myself a lot of stress.

    In conclusion, I wish that rather than giving advice about self-publishing, those in the industry would point those interested to blogs written by those who have gone indie. That way a writer can make up their mind for themselves rather than reading a respected agent basically saying "self-publishing=bad/amateur/lazy writers."