In Defense of Self-Publishing

I’ve spent the last few weeks doing a heck of a lot of research on different publishers, agents, and self-publishing venues.  I have a few different companies in mind and I am still in the process of trying to figure out if I want to go ahead and keep pursuing traditional publishing or, if I want to take matters into my own hands, and take a chance with self-publishing.  From what I can gather, there is no such thing as the perfect way to publish.  There are pros and cons to every venue.  I guess the thing every aspiring author needs to figure out is which pros will be the most beneficial to their particular circumstance, because no two are alike, and which cons they are most capable of handling.

From what I’m seeing, even working with a traditional publisher does not guarantee success.  Unless you’re JK Rowling, you’re going to have to work your tail off to promote your book, market, figure out the target audience, etc… This is where the real work begins.  Writing that 78,000 word manuscript was a piece of cake compared to these next few steps.   Whether or not your book is a success depends 100% how much work you put into it after the book is published.

All that being said, I believe there are a lot of benefits to both traditional and self-publishing.  But for some reason, self-publishing is still perceived as sub-par by several.  For example, I read that libraries will not consider purchasing a book unless it has been published by a “real publisher.”  It’s true that through self-publishing, literally anybody can get published, but that doesn’t mean that their books are any less impressive or significant or worth-reading.  It means that they believed in their work enough to take a chance when nobody else would, and that takes guts.

I have a friend who self-published his first book.  This guy is smart.  He was Valedictorian of his class and is about to graduate with his Law doctorate.  He did not have to write a book, or sell it, to be successful.  But he did, and he did it through self-publishing.  Another lady who commented on one of the articles that I read was so excited that she was able to publish her book herself.  It was her dream, she said, to see something she wrote in print.  Thanks to self-publishing, her dream came true.

I think a lot of people think that authors go with self-publishing because they think it will make them a lot of money or make them famous.  I hope that’s not the case.  A real writer doesn’t write because he or she wants to get rich or get famous or have movies made of their manuscripts (though I would be lying if I said I didn’t mentally cast my books in my head).  We write because we love to write, because we literally can’t function without it.  I’d love to support myself with my writing, but even if that doesn’t happen, I’m not going to stop.  That’s why I’m thankful for self-publishing.  It gives writers, people who do what they do for the sheer love of doing it, a chance to do what we love.  Better yet, it gives us that opportunity to make something for ourselves, even if the rest of the world is insisting that it’s a waste of time or impossible or that we’re not good enough.

So to anyone who has self-published, I admire you for taking a chance on your dreams.  I might very well be right behind you!

7 thoughts on “In Defense of Self-Publishing

  1. I hope you publish. Writing a book really is cake compared to finding an agent and publisher. I am in the process of self publishing using Archway which is part of Simon and Schuster. Maybe check the out?

  2. I’m not at the same stage as you in that I have not finished my manuscript, but I too have thought about which path I will take. I will pursue an agent, that much I know. In parallel I will investigate independent publishers. See what kind of response I receive.
    If, after 8-12 months, I have not been successful in finding an agent or publisher I will go ahead and self publish.

  3. The rough pros and cons can be summarized fairly easily. Self publishing gives you close to total control, far more than you will ever have going through traditional publishing. It avoids the fight past the gatekeepers and you can reach a mass audience. Last but by no means least, you take a bigger cut of whatever financial rewards are going.

    The down side is that you are totally on your own. There is no one there to keep you from making stupid mistakes or carry part of the load. So as a self publisher you will have to wear many hats – publisher, cover artist, blurb writer, the lot. The individual writer has to decide for themselves whether that sounds scary or like an opportunity.

    On the financial side I would suggest looking at this blog entry (it’s not mine) http://jeffposey.net/2013/05/02/whats-your-novel-worth-npv-and-cash-flow/ Not one of the ‘romantic’ parts of writing but useful to know.

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