Self-publishing is one of the hot button topics among writers of all kinds. With Kindle, Amazon, and sites like Smashwords and CreateSpace, self-publishing is easier than ever.
I’ll admit, until I started writing my current novel and began my venture into social media, I didn’t consider self-publishing “real” publishing. After all, if you didn’t have an agent and a publishing house believing in your book, how could you call yourself published?
Hold on! Don’t roast me yet. Every one of us knows that for every fantastic and successful self-published book out there, at least five more never should have seen the light of day. And not for poor quality of writing, but for lack of editing. Too many writers – especially unpublished newbs like myself – are rushing to hit the “publish” button before having their work properly edited. That’s part of the reason people are still leery of self-publishing – a reader doesn’t always know what to expect.
Finding a good editor before submitting in ANY form is a must.
Of course, cheerleaders for selfpub believe the cheap prices of most e-books (usually anywhere between .99 and 2.99) are worth the risk for most readers. Maybe they’re right. But that’s won’t going to get a writer that’s striving to improve themselves good word of mouth, and that’s the key to ANY successful book. If I buy a dud for .99, I’m not sweating the money, but I also won’t go on Twitter and tout the book as a must-read.
Many insist self-publishing is the way of the future and that the big houses, agents, editors, etc. are doomed. I’m not sure I buy that, but I do think self-publishing has a lot more merit than it did just five years ago.
One of the key issues is royalty earnings and rights. Many newbs, (again, including myself), don’t fully understand exactly what they’re signing away when they go with a traditional publisher. Everyone of us has to do our research to better understand what rights we’re giving up, especially foreign, and compare the costs of self-publishing versus realistic earnings from the traditional route.
Another issue is the worry that by self-publishing, an author is sabotaging their chances at ever being picked up a by a traditional house. But Kindle Direct Publishing’s latest newsletter talks about Nancy Johnson, who originally published on Kindle and now has publishers seeking her out.
Self-publishing is becoming a viable and more respectable option for writers. Many old pros insist that the marketing a writer needs to do isn’t much different than what would be needed if a big publisher put out the book. Apparently, they don’t toss a lot of dough around for unproven writers.
Which brings me to my least favorite part of being an aspiring author: like it or not, publishing is business. Traditional publishers are going to sign the writers they believe will make them the best money, the ones that will (hopefully) fly off shelves and have great word of mouth. That’s why only roughly ONE PERCENT of all submitted manuscripts get printed a year (at least the traditional way.)
One percent. Kind of makes you slump in your chair, huh?
If you’re like me, you truly believe you’ve got a story readers will want to read, if they only get a chance. I don’t care about the business end – I just want to share my characters and their lives. I want to give them the opportunity to shine, and I know in my gut I’ve got a strong plot.
But will it ever see the light of day?
I hope so. If I self-publish, it most certainly would. But is that really the way to go? Call me old school, but I believe there’s some value in at least trying the traditional way, and not for the money (let’s be real) or the prestige, but for the learning experience. I know querying agents will be a wake-up call, and I understand that no matter how much work I put into making sure the proposal, query, and manuscript are just right, I’ll be shot down. Most likely a lot.
But what if one or two agents asks for a partial? Isn’t there value in that? Doesn’t that tell me that I’m on the right track with my proposal, and that I’ve got a marketable idea?
And if those agents reject me, for whatever reason, what if they offer something more than a form letter? What if they have real comments and advice as to how to make my book better? Isn’t that worth the effort? I do have my pride, and I believe in my work, but I know I can always improve. There’s always more to learn, and if I’m willing to do that, I believe my novel, however published, will benefit in the end.
So while I’m slowly building my file on self-publishing, I’m also building one on how to write great proposals and queries. Some might say I’m wasting my time, but I intend to go the traditional route first, for at least six months, simply for the learning experience. I realize the chances of getting picked up are slim and that I’ll likely have to take matters into my own hands, but I still believe going through the traditional process has too many learning benefits to just bypass altogether.
After all, nothing good is ever easy, right?
Where do you stand on the self-publishing issue?
For much more on self-publishing versus traditional and tons of great writing advice, visit Nail Your Novel. Roz Morris runs a great blog for writers in every stage!