Self-Publishing: Do or do not. Here’s the why…

“…and they lived happily ever after.
The end.”

In the world of writing/publishing, once the writer is done his part, the story doesn’t magically disappear, only to reappear on someone’s bookshelf as a completed novel. *(While that would be really nice, it doesn’t happen.)

The step between writing and reading—and the topic of this article—is publishing.

To publish or to self-publish?” seems to be the question on a lot of minds these days.

With the addition of D-I-Y programs through websites such as Amazon and Smashwords, Self-publishing has become a much simpler task. However, a recent article* from The Guardian states, “Half of self-published authors earn less than $500 a year”.

So what is an author with a finished story to do?

Here are some points that may help facilitate the decision-making process

-You’ll make more money: (PRO) You will pocket most of the profit from your book sales. (CON) There’s no guarantee the book will sell a single copy if you self-publish.

-You get paid faster: (PRO) Places like Amazon send monthly payments for royalties, whereas publishers pay royalties by the quarter. (CON) Publishers pay quarterly, but they may offer advances.

-Retain all rights to your work: (PRO) Self-publishing allows you to retain all your rights, whereas publishers will try to retain some rights to the story. (FYI: Don’t forget authors have the right to question/change their contracts with publishers prior to signing.)

-Book comes out quickly: (PRO) Self-Publishing can have a book up in 12 hours whereas publishing houses can take months or even more than a year. (CON) There is a prejudice against self-publishing: Self-pubs have an amateur feel to them (as they were, more than likely, put out by an amateur).

-Publish at your own pace: (PRO) You can set your own deadlines and write at your own pace. (CON) If you wait too long between books, your fans will lose interest.

-Total Control: (PRO) No more waiting for acceptance/rejections. You are in charge of the entire project. (CON) You are in charge of the entire project, which means in charge of the editing, formatting, marketing, advertising and anything else that comes with writing a novel.

-Complete Freedom: (PRO) You have complete freedom to market your book as you see fit. (CON) Time becomes an issue when you are juggling writing and marketing your own work.

-Time to find an audience: (PRO) The author has time to find an audience, it’s not as time-sensitive for their books to sell compared to being put in a bookstore. (CON) How much time do you really have to invest in marketing yourself?

Finally, while anyone can self-publish—the question remains—should it be published in the first place? If you are debating on self-publishing because publishers keep rejecting your story, you may want to look into why they are rejecting it in the first place (content, grammar, editing, overall storyline, etc.)

Personally, as a fledgling author, I’d prefer to go the route of the publisher rather than self-publish (for now). While I do have one self-published short story, (due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding it), I am focusing on writing and leaving the publishing up to the professionals. This decision allows me the time to build my writing skills and learn to be a writer. I’d much rather spend my time writing new stories and honing my craft, than trying to build my audience or learning to myself as an author.

Overall, a good mix of both publishing houses and self-publishing will allow you expand your reach as an author, generate more sales and create a larger fan base. (A good example of someone using both methods for her benefit is author Kelli Owen. All of Kelli’s new work is released through her publisher and she is using the self-publishing route to put her older titles back on the market as the rights revert back to her.)

I leave with two final thoughts.

Just because it’s been rejected, doesn’t mean it’s no good.
Just because you can self-publish, doesn’t mean you should.

MDG aka Mandy DeGeit

* http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings?CMP=twt_fd

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5 comments

  1. nwp71

    Great article. And I’m with you on sticking to traditional publishing for now. It’s a good way to gage your own progress as a writer. Rejection letters keeo you grounded and acceptence letters can’t be beat. Keep rocking Mandy!

  2. G. B. Miller

    Currently on both sides of the equation (self-pubbed a chapbook and landed a publisher for the novel) I would agree with your premise about the pros and cons of self-publishing. I believe that it makes very good sense to do what Ms. Owens does with her stuff. I’ve seen other writers do it with moderate success and the only thing I can add to your post is if you’re going to self pub, make sure that you got a good body of work to back up what you’re going to self-pub. No one’s going to take a chance on you and your self-pubbed book if they haven’t read thing one from you.

  3. Greg

    I love your blog! When you have something book-length ready for publication, I’d really like to see it.

    Greg Ioannou, Publisher, Iguana Books

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