Friday, May 29, 2009

To Self Publish or Not Self Publish: That is the Question!

Okay, the self-publishing controversy is driving me batty.

It seems that everyone has an opinion driven by their own motivations. Agents and writing publications warn against self-publication as a taboo that will make you undesirable to "real" publishers, while other frustrated writers hail it as a life-line for the undiscovered members of the never ending slush pile.

So which is it? Will self-publishing really hurt my chances of ever becoming the author I want to be? Or is it just that this industry - like so many others - is simply resistant to change? Could it be that the growth of self-publication is just a logical next step that corporate publishers don't want to acknowledge?

What do I think? I have to admit that self-publishing looks enticing. Not only because of how hard it is to find that traditional agent and publisher, but because of the creative control that you maintain as an artist - and as a control freak, that sounds great. The idea of handing over my fledgling manuscript to strangers who aren't nearly as invested in each word and detail is frightening to me.

So I'm many of you out there have ridden the self-publication wave? And for those of you who haven't, what stops you?


  1. Johanna, thanks for stopping by my blog. And to answer your question about playlists, I gather songs from my own, rather extensive music collection. I listen to almost anything and everything. Many songs stand out to me and there are a few that come directly to mind when I start writing a new story. I kind of feel around for the rest but usually end up with some that either captures the mood of the story with the sound or with words and ones that will bring images of the story to mind.

    As far as your post, I have mixed feelings about self-publishing. I feel it can be a great avenue for some but the drawbacks can be large. One is that marketing is almost entirely up to you. Even if the company helps to get your book out there, you're still going to have to do more than you would with a traditional company (that's not to say traditional companies don't want you out there trying to market your book as well). Yes, with self-publishing you maintain more creative control but at the same time might not always have the same quality of editing. This means that what gets published might not be the best version of your work possible (of course if you hired a professional editor beforehand, then this might not be as much of an issue).

    I am kind of inbetween traditional and not-so-traditional with my publisher. It's not a self-publisher but since the company (not the editor) is relatively new and it's a small press they are experimenting with POD. I feel fortunate to have an experienced editor and a company that is fairly flexible but I am feeling the stress of marketing. As with self-publishing, you also have to keep in mind with this route that getting books into bookstores is a lot more difficult so you end up reaching less people that way (unless you're a marketing whiz, which in that case, I could use some pointers :D)

    Sorry the comment was so long!

  2. Yes, then there's that pesky marketing business...

    I guess I remain undecided...

  3. Hi Johanna,

    I'm here from Twitter via JOBookmaster aka Joel Orr.

    Due to a health issue several years ago I went with self-publication through iUniverse. I'd researched every option, and decided I didn't want to set up my own publishing company (I was on death's door, after all). I got in when the price was very low, and due to my professional contacts, didn't need their editing services. I had excellent responses from readers, and went back with a second novel. On the backs of those two books, I've been building a readership that literally begs for new novels, so after wasting 8 months last year seeking traditional publication with the newest one, went back to iU. I'm not sorry.

    I'll probably look into newer forms of publication with subsequent novels just to pare down my costs, and my sales will likely never be in the hundreds of thousands, but I can't complain about the reviews and reader comments I've received. As a writing professional before I became a novelist, I know I'm a "real" author. The readers' emails validate that.

    Best of luck making a choice that resonates for you.

    Marsha Ward
    Writer in the Pines

  4. Well, Marsha, it is in fact success stories like yours that resonate with me! Sadly it is the fear that holds me back...but I feel the fear slipping away daily!

    Thanks for your story...I'm inspired!

  5. I'm totally with you on the control freak aspect.

    I'm genuinely torn. And probably will be for some time yet!

  6. yes, torn as well. Considered it, just never took the first step. Maybe one day. Like the blog, will follow.

    Feel free to follow mine along as well.

  7. I haven't, but I have a close friend and AMAZING writer who has--He says that you get put on, but you have NO way of marketing urself- no connections, so it's useless for you to do it unless you hire a publicist as well--which is expensive. I would say that if you have an amazing piece and it's not accepted in the lottery game that is the major publishing world(and MANY tremendous writers are)- put that book aside and start a new one. You can always shop that book and once you have a name established--have the first book published then.

  8. I know. This is what my head tells me, but I'm not sure I'm patient enough to put my baby in a drawer and move on...

  9. I myself am torn... Yes it seems a good way to go... btu marketing, and how is this going to help my book?

  10. Hi Johanna,

    I decided to self-publish right from the word go. I'm definitely a control freak when it comes to my creative work and I couldn't bear the thought of dealing with agents and editors etc.

    Having said that, I never actually intended to publish a novel so perhaps I don't have the same emotional attachment to being published that 'real' authors have.

    The process so far has been fairly painless but I haven't started the self-promotion in earnest so I may yet end up regretting the decsision.