Monday, July 1, 2013

Thoughts on Self- Publishing, A Metaphor (or Possibly a Simile)

I don't go around proclaiming to the world that I want to be a published author.  But sometimes my family does.  Or sometimes someone sees the non-fiction book on writing I have with me.  And then I get bombarded with questions.

For the most part, I really don't mind these questions.  "What's you story about?"  "How long is it?"  "How long did you spend working on it?"  "Is it done?" ect.

I don't even mind the, "Are you published, yet?" and "Do you want to get published?" and "Have you submitted it for publication yet?"  These questions can bug me a little bit sometimes.  Maybe I'm not ready to be published.  Maybe right now, I'm really focusing on building my voice or finding my niche.  Maybe I still don't feel like my novel is a good as it could be.  For me, personally, all of these things are true right now.

But what I really don't care for are the people who automatically think they know what's best for my writing career.  These are the people who say, "You know, I have a friend who self-published!  I can let you talk to them!" (nevermind that their friend published adult romance or non-fiction and I'm trying to publish YA high fantasy) and "Did you know you make up to 70% for every self-published book you sell?  I've heard you get $1 or less per copy if you go with a real publisher."  and "With e-books these days, you wouldn't even need to publish in paperback.  You could do it all electronically these days."  (even though, once again, your target audience of 12-16 year old don't have nearly the e-reader access their parents do.)

I'm flattered that without reading any of my work, you think it's ready for publication.  I'm also a little flattered that you think I have the abilities, start-up capitol, and initiative to get my book out there.

But now I have a few thoughts for you.
How much research and thought have you put into the publishing world?
Were your friends who self published looking to build a career off of their writing?  Or did they just want to make their autobiography available to friends and family?

Because honestly, you telling me what to do with my novel is kind of like me telling you what to do with your masters in Computer Science.  Yes, you could move to California and start your own business as an entrepreneur.  But wouldn't it at least make sense to apply to Google, Apple, Microsoft, and IBM first?  You could wait. See what kind of offers you get.  Then make an informed decision.

And if I told you, without looking at your resume or any of your work first, that I knew what was best for you, if I told you how entrepreneurs take a larger cut of their profits then they would if they worked for a corporation, and if I volunteered to hook you up with my friend who would talk to you about his experience with his own start-up copy company, wouldn't you be just a little bit offended?

And I find it goes the same way with publishing.  Yes, entrepreneurship might be the perfect fit for you!  But you might need the experience and structure of a corporation.  You might not be ready to strike out on your own just yet.

To everyone with an aspiring author or two in their lives,
They've likely looked in to publishing far more then you have.  They know the statistics, they know how unlikely it is that their book will be accepted by a publishing agent or house.  They have likely already made their informed decision.  If you respect that decision, the hopeful author will respect you all the more.  Better yet, if you support that decision, you might be the only reason that author doesn't quit after their 5th, 15th, or 500th rejection.

A Girl Who's Done Her Research

Please don't hear me bashing self-publishing!  I respect the people who do it.  I know a lot of people who have, including Stephanie Morrill, Caitlin Hensley, and Gabriella Reed.  I think it's great that these people have the courage to put themselves out there without the support of a publishing house.

I'm just saying the self publishing isn't for everyone.  Maybe it's because I'm young.  Maybe it's because the odds are against me, but I dare to dream anyway, but I am told to self publish a lot.  And it really bugs me.

What about you?  How do you feel about self-publishing?  Are you told what to do with your career often?
Have a great week!


  1. I have planned to self-publish a series of novellas and to start looking for an agent in 2015. While you don't bash self-publishing, I get the feeling that you won't be heading towards it anytime in the future. Anyway I'm sorry if people are pushing you in a direction you're not interested in. Decide what's best for you.

    1. Yes, I don't really want to self publish. Part of that might be that I've never submitted anything before, and so never gotten rejected. I just don't want to have to focus on the business side of publishing while I'm still trying to write.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I think I'm more leaning towards traditional publishing, like you Sarah. But then again, I haven't either really submitted anything. Maybe I'm just not at the stage of even thinking about it too much...

  3. Great post! I think self-publishing can be the right path for some people, and definitely for certain projects (I'm considering it right now for a comical novella I wrote with one of my friends, which is basically just a bunch of inside jokes all rolled up together and therefore has a VERY small audience), but it's not something that I've ever seriously considered for one of my novels. My view is: If I can't land a literary agent with it, it's obviously not ready to be published period. I trust the industry professionals to know what they're doing far more than I do. On the other hand, I've read some really great novels that started out self-published.

    More and more, these days, it's becoming a legitimate path to publication. It's just not something I ever want for myself.

    1. This is EXACTLY how I feel. And in five or ten years, I might feel differently. The market could easily change. It's already come a long way even from when I started thinking about publication three years ago.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I'm working on getting my fourth book ready for self-publication at the moment. I decided on self-publication two years ago because of the free proof copy that NaNo gave me the November before, and I'm a very independent person. I really haven't had any regrets.

    However, it's not for everyone, and if you want to try to break into traditional publishing, the more power to you and I wish you the best of luck!


Comments are awesome, rudeness is not. 'Nough said.