Should You Self-Publish

26 Nov

Although it was probably clear from my post about publishing my first book, I’ll put it out there just to make sure there’s no confusion. I am self-publishing. Going indie, if you will. 

I chose to take this route a while back and never even considered submitting to publishers. It wasn’t because I thought my writing wouldn’t be good enough, but rather I didn’t want to bang my head against a wall for years waiting for someone to deem me worthy so they could take the majority of my profits. 

Granted, many will argue that my books would sell better with the backing of a publisher since they would be able to reach a greater audience. I’m not disputing that. But I’m happy with the path I chose—maybe partly because I’m a bit of a control freak and couldn’t stomach the thought of someone else being in charge of my cover, approving my title, and possibly wanting to change things in the stories that I don’t want to change. 

That said, my editor is wonderful and will tell me when something doesn’t work or make sense, or just plain sucks. And I will listen—usually. Why wouldn’t I when she’s only trying make my books better? Kind of a no-brainer. And let me tell you, I found an amazing editor, Holly D. Atkinson, but I’ll talk about her—and editors in general—in another post. 

(Hey, speak of the devil. As I was writing this, she emailed me with a link to this awesome post about editors. You have to check it out.) Now back to what I was trying to say before I was interrupted. Love you, Holly. 😉 

Sure, it may take longer to build a readership going it alone, but I really believe it will be worth it in the end. And in truth, I’m not in this alone. I have a great network of support from my editor, other authors, readers, online friends, and the people in my life. 

Self-publishing is definitely not for everyone. If you only want to write and not be bothered with all the other things—or don’t feel you have or want to learn the necessary skills to do those things—then traditional publishing is probably best for you. But make no mistake, you will still have to network and do much—if not all—of your own promotion. Sucks, I know. 

What other things am I talking about? Either hiring people or doing the following yourself: 

  •       EDITING, EDITING, EDITING—can you tell this is extremely important and better left to the professionals if you can afford it?
  •       Cover design—remember, people do judge a book by its cover.
  •       Book formatting—oh, and they also judge it by its formatting.
  •       Website design—yes, this is a necessity nowadays, especially if you self-publish since most of your sales will be from eBooks so therefore everything is internet based. Although, you’d have this one even if you published traditionally. 

I’m sure I probably forgot something, but if I did, feel free to point it out and I’ll add it.

If you don’t feel up to the task of being your own little business, this isn’t the path for you. But if you’re like me and enjoy doing it all, then you may prefer self-publishing. 

The biggest thing to remember is that doing it yourself is a slow process. You need a backlist of books to garner more sales. Obviously, this takes time. This is the biggest reason I decided to start my series with a trilogy of novelettes before I break out the novels. That and the fact those stories lent themselves to that length. 

In traditional publishing there is a big push when your book is first released, then sales tend to drop off until finally your book is no longer on the shelves—unless you’re a big name author. But with self-publishing the greater sales come farther into your career, and hopefully, instead of dropping off significantly, they will have a resurgence with each new release. Because guess what, that virtual shelf on Amazon or whatever site you sell through will always have your eBook in stock. 

So which approach sounds right for you? Is anyone out there toying with the idea of self-publishing? If yes, why? If no, why do you prefer traditional? Anyone else want to share their publishing journey—whether self or traditional?

Let’s have a friendly discussion. Neither way is right or wrong.


Posted by on November 26, 2012 in My Writing, Publishing, Self-Publishing


Tags: , , , , , , ,

13 responses to “Should You Self-Publish

  1. twaynemartin

    November 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Having written for many years and spent time under to contract to two separate agents with not one publishing credit to my name, I went indie this year. Most agents said my work was not genre-specific and publishers would have a difficult time in trying to market them. And they probably thought they could not find enough readership to justify the publishing costs.

    Sales have been slow but steady and I have much more time to write (and edit, format, create bookcovers, and so forth) rather than split my time between writing and trying to find a publisher. It is a welcome relief.

    Your writing also sounds like cross-genre fiction. I am certain there is a need for such writings out there so I applaud your courage. Best of luck in the future.

    • Lorraine Pearl

      November 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Genre issues can be a big problem for traditional publishing. They can’t do anything for us if we won’t make them enough money. I don’t blame them, but it does leave us with little options.

      Online publishers don’t seem to mind the cross-genre works, but you’re still left with all the other issues–although they do pay a higher royalty than big publishers.

      Good luck with your writing. I’m glad you’re having steady sales, and hopefully they’ll get even better. Sounds like you’re like me and don’t mind doing all those extra things yourself.

      My writing started out pretty specific to paranormal romance–and my first series still is–but after that, all bets are off. I’m going to mash some things up and see what happens.

      Thanks again for your comment.

  2. selfpublishingadvocate

    November 27, 2012 at 2:38 am

    Reblogged this on Self-Publishing Advocate.

  3. drewdog2060drewdog2060

    November 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

    I self-published my first collection of short stories, “The Girl At The Bus Stop And Other Erotic Short Stories” on Amazon and I don’t regret having done so. Getting one’s book published is extremely difficult unless you are a big name hence my choice of self-publishing.

    • Lorraine Pearl

      November 27, 2012 at 8:02 am

      I’m glad you’re happy with your decision to self-publish. You’re right, without a big name, it’s that banging your head against a wall thing I was talking about. I’d rather not have a constant headache, so it’s nice to have the option to self-publish. Good luck with your writing.

  4. Michelle Proulx

    November 27, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I’m actually self-publishing right now 🙂 I did try to go the traditional route first, sending out agent query letters and whatnot, but it appears that no one is in the market for sci-fi/YA/chick lit/humor/adventure at this time. So I guess that would be cross-genre problem that twaynemartin mentioned. So I said, “Screw it, I’ll just self-publish”, Which I’m now in the process of doing!

    • Lorraine Pearl

      November 27, 2012 at 8:34 am

      Yeah, that cross-genre issue will bite us every time. But it’s a great time to push boundaries like that now since we do have the option of self-publishing. As a reader, I’m open to more than what traditional publishing has to offer so I’m sure there are many more readers who feel that way. Heck, I get bored with a lot of what’s out there traditionally. Good luck with the self-publishing process and your writing in general.

  5. hollyda

    November 27, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I’ve been fighting the self-pub v. traditional pub battle myself when it comes to my own work. And to be fair, there is a lot that traditional pub brings to the table. A good editor with any publisher won’t make you sacrifice your voice. Yet for some work, the author’s vision simply won’t fit a publisher, and I genuinely believe in those cases it’s better to remain true to yourself than sacrifice parts of a story that are important to you.

    However, you do have to be smart about it. Some things a traditional pub editor might tell you to cut or revise is not a matter of differing tastes, but something flat-out not working. There’s a difference between having a subjectively negative response to a manuscript and an objectively negative response. I might not like what X does in a book, or how the consequences of Y unravel, but if I can objectively see why it happens and believe those reasons, it’s not a matter of the book being bad rather it not fitting my taste. However, if X acts irrationally or Y’s consequences are completely unbelievable, then we have a problem.

    Your approach to self-pub has been very smart. Yes, an editor is essential, but you have to ensure you get a good editor (not referring to myself, mind you, but a good editor in general). One of the things I’ve had to learn in my own adventures with self-publishing is…well, I work really cheap, which is one of the reasons I’ve stopped acquiring freelance authors. Finding an editor to meet my standards is rather painful. Professional editing and cover art is essential as well. A good self-pub book, in my opinion, is the sort that looks professionally published, and this isn’t cheap. You have to be willing to fork out the cash. If you have tough standards to meet, be prepared for your wallet to feel the burn.

    At one point, I had a rather disparaging view of self-publishing, but that opinion has evolved for the better over the past few years. It’s a matter of personality in many ways. For me, I have some works that I genuinely believe will do better if I go the traditional route. Others, a series in particular, I am unwilling to compromise on a few things I don’t believe a traditional publisher would accept. For those works, and because retaining artistic control is important to me, self-publishing is the way to go.

    • Lorraine Pearl

      November 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Hey Holly, thanks for stopping by and sharing what traditional publishers can bring to the table. You know I completely agree with you on the subjective vs. objective issues. I want an editor who will tell me when what I wrote is working and when it sucks. But I also know I don’t need to go through a big publisher to have a great editor who can tell me when something doesn’t work in my manuscript. I have a wonderful editor I was lucky enough to find on my own. I wonder who that could be? 😉

      I think the issue of our work not fitting with the publisher is probably the bigger issue. There’s such a tiny box they have to fill–and it’s probably already filled with bigger names they’ve had for years. That doesn’t leave much room for anyone else, unfortunately.

      Maybe I’ve heard too many horror stories from authors who had to change major things in their books that really seemed more on the subjective side.

      And yes, getting a good editor is very important.

      I’m sure Holly won’t mind me letting everyone know that before I approached her about editing my work, I’d seen how she critiqued others’ works, and how she took critiques. And she’d seen the same with me. I felt I knew enough from that to see what she would be like as an editor. I will put all this in the post I’m going to do about editors, but for the sake of this post it is important.

      You need to have had enough experience with critiques to know if you’re even getting a good editor. And you have to know the craft of writing, the rules we all hate so much. Otherwise you won’t know if you’re throwing your money away on a bad edit.

      Had I not met Holly the way I did, I would have first looked at books she’d edited and asked for a sample edit of my work. But if you don’t know what you’re looking for, none of that matters.

      I’ll save the rest for my post on editors.

      And yes, professional-looking covers are extremely important. For most people, hiring someone for this is probably as important as hiring an editor. Heck, even with my artistic and photographic side it was an entirely new medium for me to conquer–and I still have a lot of room to grow.

      As far as the bad rap self-publishing has received, how can we blame anyone for that point of view with some of the poor-quality books that have been released? Hopefully the trend is changing and people understand there are some very high-quality self-published books out there that are as good as traditionally published.

      I’m glad you’ve seen the light that self-pubbing isn’t so bad after all and are willing to try it with some of your work so you don’t have to compromise. And I’m glad that you can continue to take advantage of both sides–well, all three in your case when you factor in the editing–of publishing and have some of yours traditional and some self-pubbed.

      All-in-all, self-publishing does have the upfront, out-of-pocket expense that traditional doesn’t, but for the right authors and the right stories, it can be worth it. And as you’ve shown, you don’t actually have to choose between the two. Why not do both if it works better for you?

  6. hollyda

    November 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

    (And thank you for the shout-out) 🙂


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