29 February 2012

Why Self-Publishing? (Part 2 of 3)

Welcome to the second installment of my discussion on self-publishing. If you haven't seen the first, which covered how I got to this point, be sure to check it out. And in today's segment, I'll discuss some of the pitfalls I see with self-publishing.

Pitfalls of Self-Publishing

One must know what they’re doing, in all aspects of the business. Whether it be writing a story that will sell, or having an intimate knowledge of editing, formatting, and promoting, you’re going to be the only one involved in every aspect of the publishing process. If you don’t already have these, I’d recommend either continuing down the “traditional” route, or working on improvement in these areas.

It will be costly if you aren’t. Certainly, if you don’t have the traits described above, you can proceed without them, but expect your book to suffer in the marketplace, costing you sales (or rather, repeat sales on future books). You can also hire those who have these traits, but it can get a bit pricey when you enlist the services of an editor, a formatting guru, marketing specialist, promoter and publicist.

If you’re looking for bookstore placement, odds are against it. Although e-books certainly won’t be stocked by a brick-and-mortar store, many have corporate rules which also prevent print-on-demand (the most popular form of printing for the self-publisher) titles from being stocked. There’s the possibility that you may be able to get in on a consignment offer (splitting the price 60/40 with the store), but even then, your book may or may not even be easily visible to crowds. Other printing methods do exist, but all can get into the high costs previously mentioned.

The time investment required. As mentioned, you’re going to be taking on the roles not only of writer, but of editor, publisher, and promoter. Like or not, all of this takes an enormous amount of time to do properly. If you have a day job meant to pay the bills, or small children who require your attention, your days are going to get filled and fast.

The stigma (and there still is one). Although there are many out there who profess that self-publishing is the wave of the future, just as many still consider it a way for “hacks” to bypass the system. Sadly, there are many authors out there who don’t do an adequate job in editing their book or acquiring decent cover art, and in this game, the sins of the few spread out onto the many. There will be those out there who decry anything self-published as unworthy of publication. The goal is to convince enough people that your work is different.

Make sure to turn in next week for the final installment of this series, where I'll go over the benefits of self-publishing. And again, feel free to leave comments...I'll be sure to respond to them all when I return.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Heh, hate the inability to edit one's own comment. Anyways, the stigma of e-book authors in general remains a concern thanks to efforts by the SFFWA and various trades to discriminate against anyone not with traditional publishing.

  3. Yeah, there are definitely pitfalls in any avenue of getting published. And I think you have to be very careful when you self-publish because readers are far less forgiving than editors. On the other hand, self-publishing can be very beneficial too. Great thoughts.

  4. Kerry, it's definitely propagated by those folks, but the efforts are not helped by authors who don't properly edit. I've seen quite a number out there, thankfully in their available samples for the most part.

    Angie, that's an interesting thought, the idea of readers being far less forgiving than editors. I think it depends on the background of the reader in questions. Readers who are authors themselves will often be far more critical. I think readers who don't know all the "rules" that they should be watching for are actually far more forgiving than either editors or reader-writers. I've read several books that get high marks and think to myself how much I didn't care for it myself.

    Who knows for sure, though?


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