Why You Should Self-Publish

In case you missed it yesterday (which my stats tell me you didn’t), I listed several reasons not to self-publish. The received the predicable response- I’m full of it, the ‘I sell a bunch of books’ (I never said you couldn’t, and to be fair, the person who said that knows what she’s about) and of course the ‘you-might-learn-something’ one.

Let your hate flow through you. Give in to the dark side.

In any case, here are the reasons I decided to self-publish. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.

Money. I mean, really? This is what it boils down to, when you’re selling a book and not writing one. 70% is a better cut than it is ever possible to get through any traditional publisher. Even if you sell less books, you can still make more money. Pretty good motivation.

Control. It is a chore, as I said yesterday. You have to decide on editors, artists, etc. But, on the flip side, you get to- you don’t get handed a cover, or an editor that you just have to live with.

Time. If you go the traditional route, you’re submitting to agents for a minimum of six months, who in turn submit to publishing houses for at least that long, who in turn go through the whole editing process, cover art, etc, which is (at least) months. Oh, and if your book is not the next 50 Shade of Grey, in that it’s actually an intelligent piece of literature, or doesn’t feature cookie cutter heroes & villains, good luck even getting it published (how’s that, people who said I sounded bitter about self-publishing?). If you self-publish, your book will be out months- if not years- sooner.

Accountability. It’s no secret that there is a lot of crap out there, and I’ve said before that it’s unfair to ask readers to read through slush. But with self-publishing, you are directly accountable to readers- and readers only. They like your book, or they don’t. It’s not governed by what’s hot, if it has White People Kissing on the cover, or whatever safe standard trainload publishers hold writers too. The reader gets to decide if it is good or not.

And there is this… (via Bo’s Cafe Life)

You Define Success. You want to be a best seller? Work your ass off, and you can get there. You want to have a book out and don’t care how many copies you sell or how much you make? Bam, done. You just want to share your work with the world? There you go. Traditional publishing isn’t going to do anything for you unless it can make money off you. That’s not wrong, it’s just the way business works. But if you self-publish, you get to decide what your goals are, and work towards them- no matter what they are.


Why You Shouldn’t Self-Publish

It’s been noted that I can be somewhat negative. I’m not a negative person, but I play one on the internet. I write a lot about publishing in general, and self-publishing specifically, so I thought I’d be really negative about it for this post. So are you thinking about self-publishing? Here’s why you shouldn’t (edit: and here’s why you should, lest you think I am one sided):

You’re not writing, you’re publishing. All that skill you have as a writer? It means exactly jack when it comes to publishing. Publishing is a business, and business is about money. Artists are notoriously bad at business. You want to get your art, your story, out there? Good for you. But if that’s your object, you probably shouldn’t self-publish because it probably won’t get out there.

You have to do everything. Find an editor, cover artist, proofreaders, everyone. You have to market it, and sift through the litany of snake oil that is out there about how you should market your book (mostly in the form of “BUY THIS BOOK AND YOU WILL SELL A MILLION BOOKS”). Like point No. 1 up there, you have way less time to write because you have to do all that crap and/or pay someone else to do it for you. All the stuff you hear (and say) about having full editorial and artistic control becomes a giant chore.

Hugh Howey lucked into success and it will piss you off: Seriously. Him and every other story you hear about how someone makes like six figures a month because of their book that really isn’t that good and they did dick for marketing. You will pull your hair out and scream “that guy is a HACK how is he selling at all, my book is way better why isn’t it selling” over and over.

You’re doing it wrong. Even if you’re doing it right. “Tweet about your book over and over! Don’t forget hashtags!” “Don’t spam your followers, they will get annoyed and leave!” “You have to be always on!” “SEO!” “Social Media!” “Word of mouth!” “Keep writing!” “Offer it for free!”

Everyone else on the planet has a book out. A third grader self-published a book. This is your competition. Not the third grader per se, but every other jackass who has written a string of words in the last ten years. Somehow (this assumes you are a serious writer and don’t just have some half-assed MS*) readers have to find your book(s) among that pile, read it, love it and tell someone else to read it. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack**.

You are now a self-published author. This is conversational shorthand for ‘not a real author’. Even if you are making six figures a month at it.

(if this sounds super bitter, I will follow up with why you should self-publish)


*If you had to look up what MS stood for, I have some bad news for you.

**Good for the little girl and all, but seriously?