Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Self Publishing: Educate yourself, then make a decision

Working on my new project (not much on the site yet, but there will be in the next two weeks) combined with so many agents and editors blogging about the topic recently has got me thinking a lot about self-publishing lately.

(To be clear, I've been thinking about in the general sense, not thinking about it in the I-want-to-do-it sense.)

This picture really doesn't have much to do with my post...

The ease and rise of self-publishing has put our industry in somewhat of an (long, slow) uproar. There are many questions still to be answered: How is the reader supposed to know what's worth their time and money? Is this the beginning of the end for traditional publishing? Is there still value in going the traditional (legacy) route?

And the number one question on many writers' minds: Is self-publishing right for me?

I know our YAtopian readers are all pretty savvy, knowledgeable people so I'm probably preaching to the choir on this one, but I just want to encourage all writers out there to learn about the industry before making this decision.

I spoke to a man a few weekends ago who began telling me about the book he is publishing. He said he decided to self-publish because he wanted to keep all the profit for himself and maintain control over his work. After about two minutes, it became apparent he knew absolutely nothing about the book-publishing industry (e.g. he asked me what a literary agent does). This, in my opinion, is one of the major problems with the prevalence self-publishing: if anyone can do it, anyone will do it.

Though I'm pursuing the traditional route, I'm not against self-publishing as a rule. I think it can be the right decision for a lot of people, depending on individual goals, situations and talents. But I also think it's the wrong decision for many more people who simply don't know any better. I've heard too many heart-breaking stories about self-publishing gone bad.

If you're thinking about self-publishing (or heck, even if you're thinking about pursuing traditional publishing), I'm begging you to learn as much as you can about how the book industry works. Not only will it help you make a decision that shouldn't be made lightly, the knowledge will help protect and guide you once you choose a path.

I know that learning about the industry is hard and sometimes confusing and it takes a lot of time. But you've spent a lot of time working on that manuscript; don't you think it deserves you spending just a little more time to make sure it doesn't die a slow and painful death?

If you're in this boat, here are some resources to help you get started:  (and I'm sure some of our lovely readers will post a few of their favorites in the comments. *hint.hint* )


  1. Good post with lots of advice for those considering the self-pub route.

    You have got to know all the ins and outs of the publishing industry before deciding to go it alone. Everything that would be done by a team becomes your sole responsibility. Printing, binding, the cover, how many copies, where to sell, how to sell, marketing... It's all up to you! And if you want a real book and not just an ebook, it'll cost too.

    If you are prepared to put in a lot of hard work, self-publishing can be successful. Don't look at it as the easy option.

  2. Exactly Miss Cole! SO many people think self-publishing is the easy way out.

  3. Self-publishing is definitely changing these days, but still not for everyone. Good info!

  4. Oh! And Jane Friedman just posted "Helpful Insights for Self-Publishing Novelists" http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2011/04/13/HelpfulInsightsForSelfPublishingNovelists.aspx

  5. Great post! I used to be one of those uneducated people who thought self-publishing was a waste of time, but I've since learned more about it and learned that there are some great self-pubbed authors out there. It's all about what works for you, as an author. :-) If anything, I think self-pubbed authors learn a ton since they have to deal with promotion, sales, and whatnot.

  6. So true! My biggest piece of advice for someone planning to self publish:

    *Take advantage of critique partners and be patient. Just because you can self publish anytime you want, doesn't mean you should or that your WIP is ready.

    *Hire an editor. A good editor that's worth the price they charge.

    This is from experience. Someone sent me a book to review. They didn't do those two things and I feel they've wasted a lot of money printing a mediocre book that has a lot of potential.