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Friday, April 15, 2011

Should you Self-Publish? My New Thoughts

Hello Fellow Writers!

A couple years ago I posted on this subject and at the time my feeling was, don't self-publish if you're *only* self-publishing because no publisher will publish your books. There are so many small presses and e-publishers out there, my feeling was that if the book is good enough then *someone* somewhere would be willing to invest time and money into it by paying for an editor, cover designer and promo etcetera for you, so you aren't stuck with those costs.

Now I'm not so sure how I feel. I do think there's something to be said for being "vetted" by a publisher. There's a real feeling of accomplishment that comes with having a total stranger tell you that not only is your book worth reading, it's worth them investing time and money into the project by contracting it.

But then... I read stories about people self-publishing, selling their books for 99 cents, and making a fortune. We all know about Amanda Hocking making a million dollars (literally) on her 9 ebooks, and then getting a 2 million dollar traditional publishing deal.

Yesterday I heard about author Selena Kitt in this article here. Incidentally, I was already following her on Twitter. She made over $200K this year with her self-published ebooks. Yeah, it's only April. The year's not over yet. HOLY SH*T.

When I see things like that, and I see how expensive my books are comparatively, I wish I could choose to have a lower price point for my books. But the publishers set the price, not the author. Unless, of course, you self-publish, in which case yeah, you can do whatever the heck you want.

I understand why my publishers have to have a higher cost for my books - they have to pay everyone who helps make the book happen, and have enough left over to pay royalties to the authors and have a profit for themselves. So I'm not begrudging them making money. This is business. I understand that completely.

So I've been thinking about the possibility of self-publishing something. Specifically, an idea for a trilogy of novellas that I have. But I also wonder if I have the guts to put something out there that hasn't been given some sort of external validation by a publisher. I wonder if I can objectively look at a book I've written and say "yes, this is good enough." I'd definitely have to hire an editor and cover designer, etc.

My mind has been spinning lately with all these thoughts. What are your thoughts on the subject?


  1. I also believe you shouldn't self-publish simply because you haven't found someone who will take your work. I think it's important to go through that process at least once before jumping into self-publishing. It's not only about the validation of being contracted, that's wonderful and all, but it's the least important thing you walk away from the publishing experience with in the end. Going through the editing process is a vital step when it comes to being ready to self-publish. It's fine if you want to jump out there and break all the rules of writing, by all means, have at it and "go rogue". But you at least need to know what those rules are, why they're in place and how much you can bend them before they break. The professional editing process gives you that.

    Yes, you can hire an editor and I don't think anyone should s-pub without doing so, but when you hire that editor, their obligation begins and ends with giving you back an MS that makes you happy. The editor at your publishing house, no matter how big or small it is, is invested in the success of your MS which is an entirely different perspective. They're going to go toe-to-toe with you in effort to make sure your best work at the time goes out to the public. What you learn during that kind of invested and honest feedback will allow you to establish the most beneficial relationship with a freelance editor if and when you take that route.

    I'm very attached to my publishers and I'm excited about working on the future releases I have with them. That said, I'm also sitting on a story that I'm near positive no one will want to touch without revising the very point the story hinges on. It's an instance made for self-publishing and once it's been through the rounds and I take in all the feedback I can, I'll happily go that route and see what happens. But I feel the ability to look at my work and know it's my best at the time has come from having to answer those questions more than once with someone just as invested as I am in my work. And if that's not necessary for everyone, fine; but it certainly can't hurt anyone wanting to get their work out there.

    So there's my $1.50 on it. *smile*


  2. Great points, Xakara! I totally agree. In fact, the editing process I've been through with Ellora's Cave and The Wild Rose Press makes me very nervous about putting a book out there blindly. (although ironically, my story in the Berkley anthology went straight to copy edits).

    I know from my limited publishing experience that it's hard for me to see my own work objectively!

    But I wouldn't feel right about offering a book to one of my publishers for consideration and then withdrawing it after they give me notes and a contract offer (as comforting as that would be) because I wouldn't want to waste their time.

    I guess my question is, what if your publisher offered you a contract? Despite the unusual story-line? Would you self-pub or go with the traditional pub?

  3. I say go for it. I know another author who has made over 30k since November on three books. It's way more than I've made on 25. I'm definitely going that route it with my straight contemporaries. If they do well, I'll move to my erotic.

  4. Were the three books mainstream or erotica? Very exciting!!

  5. Great information. I've been toying with self publishing but am have been a bit fearful! Need to rethink!

  6. Well you know my opinion. :) But in terms of editing - there are great editors out there. Go to the Kindleboards in the writer's cafe section and ask around. Ask those self-pubbed authors who are putting good work out there (Joe Konrath comes to mind). You can find good cover artists the same way.

    And good luck and happy sales to you! :)

  7. I have several friends who will crumple up and chuck a story at my head if they didn't like it. (Okay, maybe they aren't that drastic, but they're forthright about when they enjoy a story and when they couldn't even get past the first chapter.)

    Find some good honest critique partners to "vet" your story for you, if you need to make sure it works.

    Just this indie author's 2 pence.

  8. Thanks for commenting everyone!

    I am blessed to have several awesome beta-readers and critique partners who see my stuff before I even submit it to my editor(s). They have been an invaluable resource!

  9. Personally I wouldn't and my reason is this. I just don't have the time to invest when there are so many stories I have left to tell. Having a collection of publishers allows me to write all I want. Of course I'm not in this for the money. It's just that I have to write.

  10. It's true, it's much more time-consuming to do all the legwork our publishers usually do for us.

    I started reading an ebook by Zoe Winters about self-pubbing, and I'm forming some thoughts.... one of which is it definitely sounds like a lot of non-writing work gets added to the time you spend actually writing, LOL


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