Deciding whether or not to self-publish is a tough call in today’s market, with Amazon.com making it easier than ever to share your voice with millions. However, superstar authors like Stephen King boycotting Amazon in favor of brick and mortar stores will, at the very least, make one stop to consider the repercussions.
Frankly, The King can do whatever he darn well pleases; he’s earned that right. He’s paid his dues, so to speak. But, that’s a topic I don’t care to discuss at this point.
Regardless, newbies like me have to carefully weigh the pros and cons of self-publishing.
Advantages of self-publishing include:
- Turn around time is greatly reduced. Immediately holding your own book in your hands can make you feel on top of the world (so I’ve heard).
- There’s no need to suffer rejection. You cannot be rejected.
- Royalties are significantly higher. There’s no agent or publishing house getting a piece of your hard-earned pie.
- Rights are retained. You do what you do and no one else has a say.
Disadvantages of self-publishing are:
- Promotion is done by the author. This includes planning book signings, contacting news outlets, getting book reviews, and general spreading of the word.
- Contract negotiation is done by the author. You’re on your own when you have no agent.
- Start-up costs are covered by the author. While there aren’t agents or publishers to worry about, you will have to do your own marketing and promotion. Generally, there is also some sort of publishing fee.
- Formatting, editing, proofing, and designing are done by the author. Since you cannot be rejected, you must be sure to carefully craft your manuscript so that people will actually want to buy it.
- ISBN’s must be purchased and registered for by the author.
- Your reputation is on the line. Many publishing houses dislike self-published authors because it makes them look amateurish. They “took the easy way out.” Many won’t work with self-published authors, just as many brick and mortar stores won’t sell self-published books.
- Emotional attachment can make it hard to sell books. Self-published authors often have a hard time seeing the big picture, to do the editing and proofing necessary to gain a greater audience, and publish prematurely because they don’t want to “murder their darlings.”
Just because you immediately have a possible audience of millions doesn’t mean you are going to make millions unless you put in the time and effort. If your manuscript sucks and you go ahead and publish it anyway just to see your name in print, you can be sure you will have a hard time getting anyone to take you seriously, much less traditional publishing houses.
What’s a gal to do? The answer is obvious to me. I most certainly will not take the easy way out just so I don’t have to face rejection. I’m a traditional kind of girl anyway, so it makes sense to go the traditional route.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t care about seeing my name on a published book as soon as possible, though. I can see why people do it. I’m not discounting the thousands of self-published authors out there who have found a way to make it work for them. It’s just not me.
If that means I’m living in the dark ages where people sit around with their thumb up their butt, waiting patiently to see their work come to fruition, then so be it.
I’ve always felt I was born in the wrong century anyway.