Self Publishing, good or bad?

“Good day,

I have already finished a novel and decided to post my second novel on a blog and give people something to read while I decide on publishing.
My question for you is do I self publish my book or try and find a literary agent. I have sent my work out to a few but I am slightly impatient and want to know if they like it or not. I know it will take time but I wanted to get your thoughts on self publishing.
Mignon.”
The publishing aspect of writing seems to be a recurrent theme for me. Well the easy answer would be to refer you to my post: Getting Published, the Basics…
Fortunately for you, I’m a notorious work-a-holic when it comes to writing (just ask my wife). Well in my previous post about getting published I went over the pros and cons. Though it sounds like you’ve already tried taking steps towards traditional publishing. You say you’ve sent your work out to them, I sincerely hope by that you mean that you sent out a literary query. If not, I suggest you start writing one.
For help writing literary queries, I’d suggest this link. They have some wonderful examples of successful queries.
If I seem blunt, It’s just because I’m saying this for your own good… LEARN TO BE MORE PATIENT! Getting published is an exacting task and it takes a long time and a lot of work not matter which route you take. Literary agents literally get bombarded with queries, and they can take 4-8 months to respond. If you email them queries, they may not respond at all. Also, just because they don’t like your work, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not publish-worthy, it simply means that it’s not the type of thing they’re looking for, so be sure to research whom you’re sending them to.
Honestly if you’re hoping that self publishing is a quicker and easier path, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Self publishing is a great way to get yourself out there if you have the time, money, and know-how to navigate the waters. The problem is that you are responsible for EVERYTHING, and when I say everything, I mean it.
You can’t simply type something up, publish it, and then sit back and watch the $$ and praise come rolling in. It doesn’t work that way. A few big things you need to remember…
1. You have to come up with a cover. I don’t care if it’s digital or hard copy, in my experience, without an attractive cover, a book rarely does well in this market. The absence of a cover or a poorly done one is indicative of a lack of pride in your workmanship, something someone who is shopping around for a new book to read will pick up on. Remember, people are looking for something to immerse themselves in. Time is money and people these days are pick on how it’s used. A good cover done by a professional artist can run from $200-500. The latter if you don’t have a working relationship with your artist.
2. Copyrighting… Now I’m not just talking about a copyright or an ISBN#. EVERYTHING is copyrighted right down to the type of font you use. Using images in your book? Make sure you have the rights to them. Fonts? Buy a copyright or make sure they’re public domain. Also, make sure NOTHING in your book is copyrighted elsewhere, including song lyrics, direct quotes, etc. Even things that are considered public domain may have their versions copyrighted, so be careful.
3. Editing. There is nothing more damaging to a writer’s reputation than a book that’s chock-full of errors (grammar, spelling, and plot holes). You’ll want to have someone do your editing for you… and your mom or a close friend who doesn’t want to offend you isn’t the right person for the job… and professional editors charge by the word they’re never cheap, especially for lengthy novels.
4. Advertising. You are responsible for your own advertising. This is insanely difficult because everyone is trying to advertise theirs as well. Personally, I do mine by blogging, and social media. Twitter, Facebook, etc. There are also several pay services, but given how little authors usually get for their books, I recommend against it.
So hopefully I haven’t scared you off of self publishing, it’s a fine way to get your work out there to people. Just be warned, you’re trading wait time for footwork. There are obvious advantages to self publishing, including have complete creative control over your work, just remember, it is by no means easier than the traditional route if you factor in the amount of effort you need to put in.
Be mindful of which route you take and research everything BEFORE agreeing to anything or you could wind up signing your hard work away.
Readers, what are your thoughts on self publishing?

Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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20 thoughts on “Self Publishing, good or bad?

  1. Do you have an opinion on iUniverse? They continue to call and
    follow-up on ideas we discussed. Be honest, I’m an auditor by trade and have thick skin.

    Like

  2. I, too, have thought about self-publishing. While I feel myself to be an adequate editor (I teach writing, for goodness’ sake), there is a level of polish one cannot do herself without spending LOADS of money. Your point about covers alone should be a cautionary point for any thinking about self-publishing. A clip-art cover? Moving on…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Allen says:

    The importance of editing and proofreading can’t be overstated. I thought I could get away with editing my own novella prior to self-publishing it. Only when it was in print (and paid for) did I notice the dozens upon dozens of tiny errors scattered about the manuscript. Another set of eyes is crucial, because that person can read your work from a distanced perspective.

    Like

  4. Sorry to be pedantic, but the expression is “chock-full” not “chalk full.” You don’t want that sentence to make your point that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. heidi skarie says:

    Self-publishing does have challenges, but even if you get a publisher you are expected to promote your book. They want you to have a platform and brand and do social media. They will expect you to spend your own money on advertising. They won’t pay a new author much. Many small publishers aren’t paying advances. You will get less money on each book sold. If you self publish an eBook on Amazon you can get 70%. You can do a paperback in Amazon CreateSpace fairly easily. If you self-publish you get to decide on the cover design and retain control over you novel or non-fiction book. I agree that you need a good editor and a cover designer and that costs money.

    Liked by 2 people

    • StCyril says:

      All very true, but you’re still responsible for the cover design and editing and I strongly recommend against using one of their generic covers unless you absolutely have to.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. darkenwulfbytes says:

    My debut novel went the route of Publish America (now Star Books, I think) – don’t do my example and always research your options. Editing is a prime necessity and is the measure of life and death to the reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You bring up a lot of good points, especially the necessity of editing. I recently read James Scott Bell’s book Self-Publishing Attack! which is a great guide/outline and “chock-full” of information about how to go about self-publishing. Getting noticed these days is tough no matter what route you take, that’s for sure. Thanks for the thought-provoking post and encouraging writers to do their research before plunging in!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am a self publishing author and I really think that whether you go traditional or self publish depends on lots of factors.
    Firstly, how commercial is your writing? Much of my writing isn’t “commercial” and is therefore not something I expect a traditional publishing house to pick up. For instance, my book Wedding the Widow has very religious themes but also sex and bad language. If your books are not “commercial” I think it is easier to self publish. Your sales might be small but you will reach people who love your work.
    Secondly, what are your personal goals? I wanted to be a writer. Poof, I hit a button and I am a writer. That means a lot to me. Even though I only make enough each month for dinner at a nice restaurant, I value my identity as a writer.
    Thirdly, how much artistic freedom do you need? I like having options and with self publishing there are very few limitations. Again, if you write stuff against the grain, you might have fairly small sales but you will reach people who can appreciate your unique work. You can write whatever appeals to YOU.
    Proofreading, cover design, and marketing can be bought cheaply on Fiverr. You can learn skills as you go along as well so if you are just worried about covers and marketing, don’t be afraid. You can educate yourself. I have learned sooooo much. Some of the lessons have been hard knocks but that is one of the joys of self publishing. You can fix mistakes. If your first cover sucks you can get/create a new one. If you find errors you can fix them. Self published books can change daily if need be as you learn,try,fail,and finally succeed.
    Again, I can’t tell you how to make a ton of money self publishing. That is probably more likely through a traditional publisher but I am very satisfied with my fairly small monthly sales (about 90 books per month last month including my freebies/foreign language books/audio books/ ebooks/paperback books/books under all my pen names (just under 30 books in all from short stories to novels).
    I hope to keep growing, but I can still say that I am a writer. My identity makes self publishing totally worth it to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. franklparker says:

    This is a subject close to my heart – I, too, blogged abut it a few days ago. Maybe you saw it when you dropped by to read my story “Cake Walk”. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dacia says:

    Jim- I know this is an old post, but I need some help. Once something is copyrighted and published, how does one go about correcting errors and re-releasing the work? This is in reference to a self published piece.

    Like

    • StCyril says:

      It really depends on how extensive the edits you’re making are.
      If you’re changing paragraphs of text then you’ll need to reregister to make it official.
      If it’s just some spelling and grammar edits, you should be fine.

      Liked by 1 person

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