Friday, April 22, 2011

A to Z Challenge Day 19: Self-publishing

About 2 years ago, I co-wrote a book with a friend.  We spent months querying agents, looking for publishers, and had no success.  We did a bit of research on e-publishing but decided against it because there was such a taboo attached to it and because the royalties sucked.

Today, there's still somewhat of a taboo attached to self-publishing, but things are changing, and it's becoming not only more popular, but more acceptable.  I think a lot of the stigma that still remains is based in ignorance - people thinking all self-published books are low quality or that only writers who can't get published traditionally turn to self-publishing.  It's true that there are some really poor quality self-published books out there, but quite frankly, I've seen some really poor quality books coming out of major publishing houses, too.

I think self-publishing has the potential to be great and I know there are quite a few successful indie authors out there right now, selling books by the thousands and making really good money.  I also think there's a lot of crap out there, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot of crap in the bookstores either.  I've been thinking more and more lately about e-publishing, not because it's the easy route and not because I don't think I could be traditionally published if I tried, but because I want my work read and it doesn't matter to me how that happens.  Yes, I want to make a living, but being traditionally published doesn't guarantee that anymore than being self-published means I won't be able to make a living.

I think that with social media and the number of book bloggers out there (I'm just now realizing the insane number of book bloggers there are), it's possible for really good self-published authors to make a name for themselves.  I have a couple of people willing to look my work over and proofread and edit, but I wish I had a critique partner, someone who is a writer and knows the things to look for when proofreading/editing.  I need feedback and constructive criticism, not just someone to read it and tell me whether it's good or not.  I think that if every self-published author had multiple people read and edit their work (well really, every author in general), maybe we could eliminate a lot of the crap out there and people would realize self-publishing is a viable option.  People can't say that only self-published books have spelling or grammatical errors because published books do too - even high-powered editors miss things.  In the last book I read, there were so many mistakes I couldn't believe it.

I read a blog a few weeks ago and the
(unpublished) writer said she would never consider self-publishing because 'anyone could do it' and she didn't want to do something that anyone could do because it took away from it.  That may be true, anyone can do it, but not everyone can be successful.  I think there are enough discerning readers out there to sift through the junk and let the good books rise to the top, and then help spread the word about them.

Look at the success Amanda Hocking's having right now.  Selling thousands and thousands of her e-books, and most of them are priced at $0.99.  I haven't read her books, so I can't say anything about the quality, but obviously there are hundreds of thousands of people out there with no complaints.  I've heard people say she's only having success because she chose a genre that's popular right now, but who really cares how she's having success.  Success is success, why do people have to be so damn critical?

I've been making a mental pros and cons list about traditional and self-publishing and the pro list for self-pub is definitely winning.  Like I said before, I just want to have my work read.  I could spend a year querying agents, find one, and then it takes about another 2 years to actually get your book published and out there.  Or, once I'm finished my novel and have it polished, I can have it out there literally overnight on Kindle (and the royalties are amazing).  Not only that, but there are places where you can have your book printed on demand for a low cost and people have the option of buying a paper copy of your book as well.  That's another appealing thing for me because my grama, who's 99, is one of my biggest supporters and I desperately want her to have a copy of my book before she's gone.  

I figure, if you're realistic, it's a crap shoot either way.  You could be traditionally published and no one might buy your book.  You could be self-published and no one might buy your book.  You have to do what works for you and what feels right and not care what other people think.  We're all writers, we need to support each other and not look down on each other for whatever route we choose to becoming published authors.  Do I believe I could be the next Amanda Hocking?  Not any more than I believe I could be the next Nora Roberts if I had my books traditionally published.  I don't need to be a millionaire, I just want to make a living from my writing, have people read my work and enjoy it.

***For more information, be sure to check out Amanda Hocking's blog, where she talks about her journey and her success, and also check out published author Nathan Bransford's blog - he has several entries about self-publishing, including this one which I really enjoyed.  I also found two really great articles here and here about self-publishing for anyone who's interested in learning more.
Today's S singer is SinĂ©ad O'Connor.  She's one of my favorite Irish singers.  I have a few favorite songs by her, but this song is always the first that comes to mind.  Enjoy! 

What do you think about self-publishing?  Is it something you would consider?  Why or why not?


  1. I'm really keen to try out self-publishing, but it's not as easy in South Africa as it is in the US. And since I've written work that is for more of a children's audience rather than YA or adult, I wonder to myself, who exactly would buy my e-book? Anyway, still thinking about it all. Thanks for the post!

  2. I can see how it would appeal to a lot of writers as there is more control and certainty of being able to get the book published through this route but for me I can't help but see it as a secondary solution.

    Sure if I get enough rejections when I finally finish a novel I may go this route, or I may write a few works just for the sake of self-publishing to attempt to generate an income while I pursue traditional publishing. Or at the very least have actual books printed, something more fulfilling about holding your book in your hands than an ebook in that regards.

    Like everything else I'm sure this has its place, but the fact that it's seen (not saying I agree with the sentiment, but that's the way it goes) as the quick and easy route makes it harder for those who invest the time to do it right. I'll still try it, I'm sure, but I always read articles like the linked ones with the disclaimer "results not typical".

  3. I know it's not germaine to the thrust of this post, but I love Sinead O'Connor! And she looks so interesting as a redhead. (or with hair)

    And yes, the stigma for self-publishing is greatly removed these days - all the fanfic authors are doing it now.

    Thanks for stopping by! Your newest follower here.

  4. I think self-publishing is an exciting option. I love the idea of finding one or two critique partners – sort of an ad hoc publishing house of one's own. Very democratic. I think whether self-publishing is for you depends on your reason for being a writer to begin with. If you want to express yourself in words and be read, and self publishing lets you do that, then why not?

  5. Great information and I love the title of your blog. I think that I would self publish if I knew I had a big enough following already to make it worth it. I am still hoping to get published traditionally so I may have to hold of on that.


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