The term “self-publishing” is quite fuzzy. The boundaries of this choice bleed into both Independent Publishers on one end and Vanity Publishing on the other, thus the quotation marks. For the purposes of my forthcoming book, I’m defining “self-publishing” as a writer who publishes their own book through a publishing company they own, not a Vanity Press. If you’re paying a service like iUniverse, LuLu, or CreateSpace, you are using a Vanity Press, and they will be covered in the next section. Basically, if the logo on the spine is your company, you are a “Self-Publisher.”
Unfortunately for those authors who produce quality work, self-publishing carries a nasty stigma. Many readers, upon hearing the words “self-published,” conjure up images of badly Photoshopped covers, poor layout, and shoddy writing. And for good reason. This describes many, many (really, far too many) self-published books. In fact, I’ve seen atrocious book covers from an Independent Press that houses over sixty authors. On the other hand, I’ve seen gorgeous covers from both Indie Presses and “Self-Publishers,” alike.
In short, there is no quality control in self-publishing unless the author takes it upon him/herself to ensure said quality. More often than not, this means a considerable investment in professional editors, graphic artists, and desktop publishers.
However, many “self-published” books are excellent. They contain fresh, new ideas that don’t fit into the NY Big Boy box. They are genre mashups. They are unique and witty and fun. They are dark and edgy. Many readers seek out self-published works because they enjoy something other than the same-ol’, same-ol’. With the growing popularity of eBooks, readers can try out new authors for less of a financial risk. This benefits the author, who gets a larger readership, as well as the reader, who finds something fresh for just a few dollars.
As for the stigma that all “self-published” books are of low quality, I say, “balderdash.” Some are great. Some suck. Truly, the same can be said about books published through the Big Boys. Some are great. Some suck. But those from the NYBBs are all professional edited, laid out, and designed.
This is what the “self-published” author must take on him/herself, and it’s no small feat. We’ve paid professional editors to edit and proof our novels, and they still come back with too many errors. It requires several passes from more than just two or three sets of eyes. And please remember, you cannot edit your own work. You will not see what another set of eyes will see. You know what you’re trying to say. You know what you mean. You must ensure that what you mean is actually what you wrote. This requires more eyes than just your own. Invest in the quality of your book. Once it’s out there, it’s out there for good.
It has never been a better time to “self-publish” your work. There have never been so many avenues and affordable options to get your book published, and there have never been so many outlets in which to sell your book. Read on, and I will walk you through exactly how to have a quality book that is available in bookstores and maybe even finds some shelf space of its own.
As an author, the greatest thing about owning your own publishing house is that you can do things your way. You don’t have to worry about being taken advantage of by those preying on your dreams.
Your destiny is in your hands…and yours alone.
If you succeed or if you fail, it’s all up to you. Rather terrifying, isn’t it? Also, quite exciting. Your destiny is in your hands. Take a deep breath and dive in.
The worst thing about owning your own publishing house is the amount of work and money involved. It is, by far, the most expensive way to get your book published. No doubt.
However, it also has the greatest potential for reward. The higher the risk, the greater the reward.
Sure, you can sit back and write all day, every day; but not if you want your books to sell. Not until you’re at the level of James Patterson or Sue Grafton or, to cite a self-published author, J. A. Konrath can you just write every day. There is marketing to do, and it is all up to you. Remember, this is true for whichever of the Four Basic Choices you choose. Although as I type these words, this model is changing. The entire industry is changing so fast, it’s rather difficult to keep up. Several self-published authors are now finding that they can market less and write more thanks to Amazon’s Kindle sales. More about this in the eBook section of the book.
Ultimately, however, some promotion will be needed no matter what. Even those self-published authors who are selling well in eBooks and on the Kindle are at least blogging, tweeting, and participating in other social media.
If you want your book to sell, it’s up to you to promote it.
Do you think self-publishing is losing its stigma?
15 Comments Add yours
A breakout self-publishing success can also garner the attention of the Big Boys. Several folks who’ve opted for self-publishing and then worked their butts off selling have gotten their books picked up and reprinted, or signed a new book, with a Big Boy. It’s rare but is an added plus.
Yes! Exactly. This is what happened to Eragon. Also The Celestine Prophecy and Diary of a Wimpy Kid… and there are many, many more.
It is rare, but not any more rare than being picked up by a Big Boy to begin with… plus you get to build and audience and make a living in the mean time.
Not bad all around.
I will probably self-publish my writing. I’ve had many rejections over the years so I assume that no one is interested in either what I’m saying or how I’m saying it. I think little of my work has a commercial value for a commercial publisher, I understand that. I wouldn’t want the company I work for making non-commercial decisions.
I have no idea what history is going to think of the self-published book. I look at people like Jo Penn and see all the great promotion she does and then look at her sales and it obviously works. I can’t do that, I’m not as entrepreneurial as she is. And that’s what we have to do if we are to sell like she does, or get someone to do a similar job.
I think maybe for Jo once she has set herself up, as she has, she won’t have to go on and do all those hard yards again and again for each book. So she’s smart and effective. I imagine most of us are not going to be as good as Jo Penn at setting up our author platform, so we are going to have to pay someone to do, hence a major problem with self-publishing.
I think it’s those that can get over that problem and write well, will have a successful writing career.
Self publishing is definitely coming into its own. Don’t sell yourself short. You can learn to market yourself and build your platform (and I give step by step guides in my book). Let me know if you have any questions going into self publishing.
I see no point in working with a publisher if you have to do the hard stuff (marketing) anyway. It seems if you can get a few good reveiws, you’ll rise above the stigma. Many people think the books on the best-seller list (and I’m one of them) aren’t a sign a book is good anyway. I’ve put many of those best sellers back on the shelves.
It’s always a matter of taste, no doubt. The point in working with a publisher would be for industry validity and distribution. Your marketing efforts will have a greater impact with more extensive distribution. But, like I list in my book, there are pros and cons for each publishing path. It depends on what the individual author wants and what they’re willing to do to get it.
Great post. It’s good to know that I’m not the only who received edited work back and there are still errors. Thank goodness I did more run-throughs.
Even though there is a cost to self-publish it’s still less expensive than going thru a vanity press. I still need to master marketing though.
That’s right. No matter what your publishing path, marketing is up to you, the author.
Wonderful post! I am writing my memoir which also happens to be my debut as an author. I am self-publishing. I think its what’s best for me. I know there are some folks who think that self-publishing is for those who do not have the chops to hang with the “Big Boys” but I do not believe that all. I do not want anyone except God to hold my destiny in their hands. I’ve taken over five years to write a great book and hire those for editing, interior and cover design services.
I think it’s all about the goals we set for ourselves. Who knows down the line I may pitch a traditional publishing house. But, right now, I’m enjoying the journey as a self-publisher.
Good for you! It’s certainly an interesting journey. No doubt. I offer consulting services if you require any guidance along the way.
Reblogged this on bookshelf and commented:
No thank you for a wonderful article