Wednesday, October 5

Would I? Should I? Could I? A Questioner's Thoughts on Self-Publishing

Writing is a lonely business. Those of you reading this know that're writers. We sit alone for hours on end, with either low music playing or only the clacking of the keyboard to keep us company. When the words aren't flowing, it's like the worst kind of death. When the words are flowing, woe to anyone who might interrupt us.

The online world changed that. When once there were only local writer's groups - if we were lucky! - to share our stories with, now there are a multitude of online groups, blogs, social media...and the list goes on. Still, when something good happens - and even more, something bad - we want to reach out. To talk to someone who understands, to get advice on how to bounce back from defeat.

This year, even our online world changed...because, although they'd been out for a while, e-readers have become quite common. And a lot of people we know decided it was time to stop waiting for Someone Important to notice them and take the bull by the horn. The success stories are staggering: Amanda Hocking is a millionaire after a little over a year of self-publishing...and she got a traditional contract to boot. JA Konrath has sold millions of books, Bob Mayer...the list goes on. But the list of self-published authors who haven't taken the world by storm? That list is even longer - because, as Christi and D'Ann have already pointed out - there is a lot of dreck in the world. Not all of it is self-pub, which sometimes makes the self-pub realm look really, really lucrative - because if X Self-Pub Author published and I'm much better than that then I'll make a killing, right?

Not necessarily.

I don't know the answer, but I'm studying the self-pub marketplace and one of the best blogs I've found is by Bob Mayer - he doesn't sugar-coat, he offers good advice. His biggest word of caution? Don't have only one book - have a backlist ready - whether series or not - because if a reader likes you, they won't want to wait months and months and months to read your next book.
What good advice have you heard - good or bad - about self-publishing?


  1. Smart thoughts on a very important topic, Kristi. It seems we writers can't get together without this subject coming up.

    I still remain confused on the matter, and will check out the blogs you've mentioned.

  2. I really enjoy Bob Mayer's take - because he's been traditionally pubbed and has gone into self, so he's seen both sides if that makes any sense.

  3. Good article, Kristi. As a recently self-pubbed author who is also traditionally published I can say that it's a lot of work. You where a lot of hats when you self-pub and it takes a lot of time away from writing. But hopefully the rewards will balance the time lost.

    Lisa Mondello

  4. Interesting topic today Kristi. I've been reading quite a bit about this myself because I'm a believer in not putting all your eggs in one basket. I have just become epubbed with TWRP, still want to find an agent and soak in the rewards of traditional pub, but would also like to try my hand at self pub. There's a lot to learn, but I think the ride would be awesome! Going the self pub route might not make you the next millionaire, but it's another avenue to get your work out there and read...and that's what I truly want :) But I also want to go about it the right way so that I don't put out a book that has terrible formatting, is full of other errors and will turn off any potential future readers. Scary to think about :)

  5. Christine, those are some of my fears, too - that the product I'll put out won't be up to par because of formatting or whatever.

    Lisa, you hit another of my worries. Because, if I have to publish and promote and keep writing the next book and keep my family happy...something has to give...

  6. I just took the plunge and put up my first self-published book. But I'm not putting all my eggs in one basket. I'm still submitting to agents and I'm still submitting to the small epress that published my first book.

    It's a brave new world, but I'm not that brave, yet.

  7. When the rights to my first book reverted to me at the end of August, I entered the self-publishing arena. I love it. I find it freeing and motivating. I was fortunate because my husband offered to do all things technical. I doubt my books would be up there without him.

    My advice? Hire an editor for your manuscript and make sure you have professional-looking covers.

  8. Maureen and Jill - great advice, both of you...and good luck with self-pubbing!

  9. I've heard both sides and I think self-pubbing is a great opportunity, for SOME writers. I'v read some self pubbed books and can't figure out for the life of me why they weren't picked up by a traditional publisher. For pity's sake, someone published Snookie! Some of my fav stories are from ebooks or self pubbed authors. I think the big 6 wants traditional stories. I tend to lean toward the untradtitional. BTW as far as editing goes, have you heard the one about the author that was pubbed (big 6) who had a line that read "he shit on the ground" instead of shifted? True story:)

  10. Kristi~
    My fears about self-pubbing are theses:

    1. Bad cover

    2. Bad editing (we all know how I suck at that)

    3. Nobody will read the book

    4. I'm too tired to think of more right now. But there are a lot.

  11. Shawn, don't get me started (again) on the pseudo-celebrity-author syndrome!! :)

    D'Ann, those are my exact fears.

  12. Me, too. Me, too. Me, too. And I hate to admit it, but I'm hesitant to buy self-pubbed unless I'm familiar with the writer. I'm becoming a dinosaur, I'm afraid.

  13. Maybe the success of non-traditonal books being self-published will wake up the big six in discovering new terrain. (re:Shaun's comment)

    Or not.

    While Amanda Hocking is definitely a success story, I believe she is like the diamond in a vat of agates. And she had to work her writing butt off to become that successful. I know that I don't have the time or the inclination to do what she did.

  14. Liz, I'm willing to try - once! But it does depend a lot of price point ... I'm willing to take a chance (most times) for 99 cents but not $5.99.

    Margie, from your lips to the publishing gods' ears...