Monday, July 18, 2011

Would I Ever Self-Publish?

(Like Chantele @ My Writing Bug, Warning: Personal Post)

If you had asked me that question a year ago, I would've said "B*tch, please." But now...the answer is yes. I would. That doesn't mean I will right now. But I'm no longer ruling it out.

Self-publishing always had a "kick me" sign taped to its back. It was linked to vanity publishing, which seemed to me like the publishing version of a ponzi scheme. People who self-published were thought of as those not good enough to get an agent and be traditionally published. However, over the past year, from what I've seen, the tide has turned. We've reached, or are about to reach, a Tipping Point. (a book everyone should read) The moment I realized that self-publishing was legitimate was when I read about Amanda Hocking. Her story is an anomaly, just like Stephanie Meyer is an anomaly in traditional publishing. But then I began reading about other authors who were making money from selling e-books. Not six-figure salaries, but a decent chunk of change. I'm not trying to get published to become rich and famous. I want to write books that people I'm not related to can read and enjoy, and earn some money while doing it. Not a fortune, more like what I made at my high school job as an usher.

 From what I've seen, genre works and series are most conducive to self-publishing. I can see myself writing a series. I did want to be a TV writer at one point because I love serialized storytelling. The stigma attached to self-publishing is fading away. Don't get me wrong: I do want to get an agent and be traditionally published. I still believe in traditional publishing. They provide an array of services to bring books to the market like publicists and typesetters, jobs I couldn't do while working a full-time job. Agents and editors do a great job as gatekeepers; they are better read than me, and they believe in great writing. But if I cannot find an agent, I think self-publishing would be a viable option for me. In my eyes, the taboo has been lifted. You may not feel the same way. This isn't a blanket statement about the industry. This is just my opinion as an aspiring writer.

With self-publishing, I now have a plan B if I cannot find representation. The world is no longer "Find Agent or Bust." It's nice knowing that if all else fails, I can use e-books as an outlet for my books and that real people could buy them. It sounds like you have to treat it like your own small business. Secondly, I don't have to worry about writing to fit a market. Many of us have ideas for novels that straddle multiple genres or don't fit in perfectly with any of them. The first book I tried to write took place in college, but then I was told that there isn't a market for college-set books. I tried to write the book in a prep school with lackluster results. If I ever chose to self-publish, I wouldn't have to worry about where it fits in the market. There may be an audience for genre-straddlers. Or nobody could buy the book, but at least I would find that out for myself.

I don't know if I just shot myself in the foot with this post. As I said before, I still believe in traditional publishing, and I will try to get my book published through that route. But if that plan doesn't work out, then I would consider self-publishing in the future. Of course, first I have to finish a book before I cross any of these bridges. How about you? Do you think you would ever consider self-publishing?


  1. Great post. I know right now I wouldn't try self-publishing. Not because it isn't traditional, but because I have no time to market my books with three kids at home. I also tend to stress myself out to no end at times and would be constantly worried about my book cover, if my editing was good enough, etc.
    Maybe if traditional publishing doesn't work out for me and my life calms down a bit, I'd think about it.
    I think Self-publishing is a great option for some people. I don't look down on it at all, it just wouldn't work for me right now. :) And thanks for the shout-out! :D

  2. I think if one is going to self-publish then one better be ready to spend a TON of time visiting blogs, marketing, etc. BUT if you are able to do that then SP is a good idea when you have an excellent book to market.

  3. I think I would try self-publishing. I'd like to try all the conventional publishing routes first, but it's not out of the question.
    Great post! Your posts are fun to read!

  4. I am now focused on getting short stories published in literary journals, so I have no formal opinion on the matter, but your post is very sensible. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. I only wouldn't currently try self-publishing because I don't have the necessary skills to go down that route t the moment. I'm thrilled that there are so many more options open to writers nowadays, it's so exciting to see where it's all going.

  6. Interesting post. I am still very much wanting to be published by an established publisher myself, but that's me. Good luck with self publishing I know it works well for some. :O)

  7. As a reader, I've read three self-published novels just this year and recommended them to friends. Whether you publish traditionally or otherwise doesn't matter as long as it is good. I promise that the money I spend on your novel shall be good.

  8. @Chantele - You are right that it involves a lot of work. It is like running your own business, and it's not something to enter into lightly. A lot of us can't make that commitment. At this point in my life, I don't think I could.

    @A-squared - Don't we already spend a TON of time reading blogs :) I wonder if there are certain key places you can market/comment, like on the kindle or smashwords reader reviews page. Talk directly to your audience. Maximum exposure to your audience with minimum time.

    @Emily - I'm glad you enjoy my blog as much as I enjoy yours! And I think I may try SP after I've exhausted all traditional routes, too. At least for now.

    @Julia - Good luck with your short story writings!

    @Sarah - It's a very exciting time for writers. After watching the mp3 and cable television explosion, now is our turn!

    @Madeleine - Thanks for the follow!

    @Michael - You hit the nail on the head. At the end of the day, a good book is a good book, whether it's on the bookshelf or your kindle. People will find good books. And I'll hold you to that promise about spending money on my novel ;)

    Thanks everyone for the comments!

  9. I'm here from Casey's blog, and am now your newest follower, so:

    Nice ta meet ya, Phil!

  10. Ditto what Matt said about being a newb follower. I recently decided to self-published, and I'm really excited about it.

    I think there's room for both kinds of publishing in one person's writing career. Amanda Hocking just went "traditional," but she's still going to publish some titles on her own. I think she has the best scenario going for her that I've heard of lately.

    I think of publishing now as a win-win. If you write something that agents and publishers are interested in, you'll get your book in stores which is AMAZING. And if you don't end up going traditional, your books can still reach readers and have a great, non-stigmatized (sort of, mostly) home.

    Good luck :) (And I have now written what could be considered my next novel in your comments...sorry about that lol)

  11. You took the exact words right out of my mouth, Phil.

    As much as the e-pub business has hurt our chances as unagented, unpublished writers to get published, e-pubbing is now a valid choice.

    You just have to be willing to work ten times harder and make sure your product is as perfect as possible so you don't hurt your chances to become traditionally published someday.

    Unfortunately, self-pubbing still cannot be considered when including credentials on a query. Maybe that will change someday, too!

    And no, I don't think this post hurts those chances wither.

  12. @MacNish - Thanks for the follow! Glad to have you!

    @ KD - Congratulations on self-pubbing your new book! I'm excited to find out how things turn out. Besides Hocking, I have seen other self-pubbed writers get traditional publishing deals. It's like indie filmmakers and youtube sensations getting movie/TV deals. We live in an age where you need to make your own noise if you want to be noticed. No more waiting to get discovered. It is win-win for writers. And traditional or e-pub, I believe good writing is good writing. There will be lots of lousy writers hastily e-pubbing, but the great books will rise to the top. People will find them.

    Well, it looks like I wrote a companion novel to yours!

    @Nancy - While it does strike me as snobbery a little, I understand where agents are coming from re: queries. If self-pubbed books were considered credentials, then any Tom, Dick, and Harry would throw some first draft crap they wrote on Smashwords and claim they're published authors. Credentials are something that not everyone can have. They distinguish you from your competition. Being selected for a literary journal, graduating from a certain writing program. Even with self-pubbing, if you said that your books sell minimum 1,000 copies, then that's a credential because not all self-pubbed writers can claim that. If you self-pub and build up a solid readership, then that's collateral you can show an agent if you still want to be traditionally published.

    Yikes! Another novel!