Almost a year ago, I blogged about a phobia I had been developing. A phobia about why I didn’t want to self-publish over the traditional route. There are still a lot of good things about going the traditional route. I’ve been published in Zombie Bites, edited by David Saunderson, and that’s fine. It’s more than fine–I’m among a wealth of other talented writers in a thrilling, humorous, exciting anthology.
But I got a lot of good feedback from those who have got the route of self-publishing, and I think I’ve changed my mind about how I feel about the DIY route. A couple of friends of mine who are self-published authors really enjoy it. For three main reasons:
- Total creative control. Your book is your baby, and while it’s great to have a publisher with their in-house editors re-frame your words and cut out the unnecessary bits and change things around, it’s also annoying if and when it comes back to you as diminished from what you intended. It’s good for new writers, sure, but if you’re seasoned, it can get old, fast. When you’re publishing your own work, you get to decide what stays and what goes. You, and only you. That level of control and responsibility is important, and can be a pitfall if you’re not good at editing and pruning, so make sure that you’re surrounded by excellent beta readers and editors who will help you with an objective look at your work. (This is vital to keep your work from falling into the swill of writers who couldn’t do the same.)
- Retention of profits. When you do all the work yourself, no one else gets a cut of your profits (unless you hire professional editors; then you have to pay them). There’s no agent, no publisher to take a deep cut (Kindle Direct Publishing does take a chunk depending on the pricing of your book), etc. It’s all yours to keep. This is also a great motivation to keep you creating your best work possible on the days you’re feeling ready to just give up. While money isn’t the main motivator for most writers, it’s certainly nice to have a royalty check that’s all yours at the end of the quarter.
- It keeps you from hitting the publishing wall. Let’s say you’re a niche writer. The competition is fierce. Your work might be really good. Great, even, but if there’s no real market for it, then you’re going to have a hard time finding an agent or publisher who’s willing to pick it up. That’s when self-publishing can save you.
I have gotten tons of rejection letters that all say the same thing: they love my work, they think it’s polished, but they just don’t have the market for it “at this time.” Well, I would hope that my writing would be worth the risk, but with traditional publishers having to cling to every dollar from their big clients, they don’t often have a lot of room for those of us who are the ‘little guys.’ Fair enough.
If you do it yourself, you don’t have to worry. You make the market. You’ll work your rear end off, but you’ll do all your own marketing and contact with fans. It might just pay off.
Now, while I enumerated the negatives of self-publishing in my previous post, as well as the drawbacks and benefits of the traditional route, it has become clear to me that both sides have their merits and flaws.
If you have the time and devotion to the written word and a slew of good editors (you can use Bubble Cow’s editing services if you lack beta readers and editor friends), think about going the self-publishing route for good or while you’re waiting for a traditional publisher to pick you up. Get your well-deserved words out there for people to enjoy.
So I will take my slice of humble pie, enjoy it with some refreshing soy milk, and get a book out there all on my own. It’s about time!