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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Self-publishing: Viable or no?

I know of a few authors who are self-published who do remarkably well for themselves. Their writing is amazing, well-edited, and they have been quite successful in gaining new readers.

Back in the day, you didn't touch self-publishing. In the hierarchy from top to bottom, it went from Print Published, Print and Ebook Published, Ebook Published Only, and Self-Published with each level having a greater amount of stigma as it went down the chain. The implication has long been that ebooks are not "real books", but with the advent of the Kindle and the Nook, this is finally being refuted.

Now it's falling to the last holdout of the claim to what is considered to be "real" publishing: those who are self-published. With the latest press regarding one self-published author, Amanda Hocking, this appears to be one more erosion in the long-held paradigm of what passes for a "real" book with "real" publishing. The argument against self-publishing is pretty similar to the ones often made against ebooks: supposedly they are badly written, poorly edited, and that traditionally published books are the only ones worth reading. In truth I find just as many embarrassing typos, bad editing, and awful writing in traditionally published books as I do ebooks, regardless of whether or not they have a publisher or are self-published.

It would seem that eliminating the middle man may be a boon to some who want to get their works out there. On the other hand, a one-man shop can be difficult to run. It's no secret to any writer that without an additional pair of eyes to look at your works, editing issues can occur. But as with any situation, these can be overcome regardless of what publishing route you take. One might also be able to make the argument that success is your proof: if you are self-published and you are successful, then obviously you are doing something right.

So what do you think? Is self-publishing good or bad? Does it stand the chance to become an alternative venue? Why or why not? What would be the advantages and disadvantages to choosing such a path in your writing career?

Love & Magic,


Mandi Casey said...

I have self published and definitely should have hired an editor for my first book and I an now looking for a traditional publisher for my second. I've definitely learned a lot from the experience and love the physical quality of the book. If a person JA a strong platform and time for self promotion it can definitely be done with success.

Valerie Douglas aka V. J. Devereaux said...

I think, as they say, that the paradigm is shifting. At one time there were many venues for writing, from short story magazines to novels, and many options for writers to get their names known. The old advice used to be to write good short stories to make a name for yourself, and to learn the craft. As magazines folded, though, that option disappeared. Suddenly, now, with e-books and self-publishing, there are more choices. I'm published now in e-books but I also write classic and epic fantasy novels and romances. Like most writers, I think, I still want to see my book(s) in print. So I'm doing everything I can to get my name out, including self-publishing. Since I retain the rights I still have the option of selling to a publisher - e-pub or otherwise. Again, though, it still remains to produce a professional looking product, either with the help of the self-publisher or by doing it on your own.
I offered my novella Not Magic Enough was self-pubbed for free on Smashwords and had nearly 500 hits. What does that translate to as far as my other work? I don't know yet... I'm waiting to see...

Adrianne Brennan said...

I've been asked by a few people if I've ever thought of looking into self-publishing, and I still recall the one person who asked me about starting up a publishing company. Self-publishing I could see doing, but being a writer and running a publishing company are two VERY different animals. I barely have time to write as is, let alone run a business about writing which would definitely take away from that! I know of people who have done it, but there's no way I could.

I've heard a lot about Smashwords and Lulu and know people who are pubbed on them. One piece of advice I've heard is that if you write for a niche market/audience, doing the self-pubbed route is the way to go.

Anonymous said...

I would not self-publish, with out hiring an editor first. Now, that won't clear up all the mistakes and boo-boos in a book, but it helps. Since I have finally been published, (e-book and soon to be in print), I have learned the lesson of having a good editor, or 2, or more. I've been told my stories are good, but I also know, I'm not the greatest writer in the world.

Thus, I will always use an editor. Anyone that self-publishes without an editor, is asking for trouble. Sure, it can work, and it can bite you in the butt too. Why take the chance. Hire that editor. After all, you want to release the very best story possible. Every little bit helps.

Adrianne Brennan said...

My editors have been worth their weight in gold--no joke! I look forward to the rounds of edits every time because I always learn new things and improve my writing each time. It's a good thing!

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Before I was published, I never knew there were so many publishing houses. lol I chose a book because the cover (I love cover art) and the blurb intrigued me.

Even now, I don't really care if the author is a NY Best Seller or self- published one. I've read fantastic stories from both as well as ones not so fantastic.

I do agree if you self publish, you should have an editor or a really good critique partners.

Your story is your baby and you want to give it the best care.

Adrianne, I enjoyed your post. Great topic. :)

Savannah Chase said...

I think if you can afford to self publish a book and hire an editor and someone to make you a cover I say go for it. It is becoming more common to see an author self publish work. There are books out there that were once out with a publisher and the contract finished. An author is left with a book and now most publishers are not wanting to take a book that is not new and has been out. They do not see profit in it. I have considered self publishing and don't see anything wrong with it. Look at it this way. Before epublishing was frowned upon and now it is the big thing.

Terry Kate said...

I have been helping a lot of people get their backlist and new material self pubbed. It is a very viable option for authors.

When you look at a book you need to think of it as a long term investment. Whether you have a publisher or not. What always impresses meis a publisher who knows how to promote backlist and maintain steady sales - there are only a handful that do.

no one else loves your book as much as you do so you need to look out for it.
If anyone is looking for self pubbing help email me - romanceinthebackseat @
Terry Kate

Angela Verdenius said...

Great blog, Arianne, and thanks heaps. Yes, I remember when ebooks were looked down upon, and now ebooks are the next big thing with the emergence of Kindle. I really think it has paved the way.

I have read books from both big and small publishers that have made me cringe with both the editing and story, so I don't believe that a having a publsiher makes you an automatic great writer! (to be fair, I've read some awesome books from the same publishers )

I believe there are great stories out there that are being passed over in favor of the most popular genres, or simply because the editor didn't like them - think J K Rowlings and Sherrilyn Kenyon before they found an editor who liked them. What if they'd decided to self-publish instead?

I think self publishing definitely has its place in this writing world, and I'm contemplating it myself, even though I have 18 novels with a publisher. It may be time to experiment a little!


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