Why I won’t self-publish, but won’t hate you if you do.

Posted on February 17, 2012 in Writing / 10 Comments

A friend of mine finished writing a book in her junior year of high school.  She spent a little while querying agents, and after receiving a handful of rejections, she decided that her talent was not being appreciated and she decided to take a different route:  self-publishing.  Last spring, she had one-hundred books printed, and, as I understand it, managed to sell them all (to friends and family mostly).  I was one of her proofreaders, and I had the good fortune to receive a free copy.  I will say this for her writing:  it’s not bad.  She is an excellent storyteller, but I can hardly blame the agents for denying her – her writing was rough, and she is stubborn enough to think she could change some of the rules of the English language… never a good idea when you are trying to publish.  But she did tell a good story.

Not all self-publishers are doing it because they don’t feel “appreciated”.  Self-publishes offers a lot more freedom over your work, where it is distributed, and how it is used.  You don’t have to change your work if you don’t want to, you have creative control over your covers.  From start to end, your book remains yours.

It is also a lot more work.  You are doing your own marketing, you are responsible for your own deadlines.  This can be a good or a bad thing… but being an author really becomes a second full-time job if you choose to self-publish and have the drive to be successful.  Fortunately there are a lot of tools out there that will help you with self-publishing – LuLu and CreateSpacae are two of the popular ones, one is more user-friendly, while the other definitely offers more services (for example, CreateSpace allows you to post your book on Amazon.com).

I’m old-fashioned.  I want to feel as though I’ve earned my book.  While I do believe that self-publishers have to work hard to get their work published and successful, for me, that feels like taking a shortcut.  For me to feel fully accomplished as a writer, I want to be able to write a book that someone else sees and believes in enough to work with me to make everyone love it.  The story may be my baby, but I want the book to belong to more people than just myself.  I don’t mind editing it again and again and again and scrapping it and writing a new one, if that is what it takes.

English: British versions of the Harry Potter ...

I really need to emphasize, though, that this is a personal choice, and I know there are many successful self-publishers and I am well-aware of how hard they work and I think that they earn everyone one of their sales.  But for me, it wouldn’t be the same.

Besides, I read somewhere that Stephen King had a nail upon which he posted all of his rejection notices – dozens of them.  Several publishers denied the Harry Potter franchise before Jo Rowling found someone willing to take a chance on her.  Each rejection notice is just a tiny step closer to an acceptance, and it is a lesson in humility.

Do you intend to publish a book?  How do you intend to go about it?

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10 responses to “Why I won’t self-publish, but won’t hate you if you do.

  1. I’ve heard so many people talk about self-publishing, but I’m not sure I’m keen on it for so many different reasons. I’d rather do it the old fashioned way. I can’t say I won’t ever self-publish, but I don’t want that to be what I attempt first.

    • I also believe self-publishing has a lot to do with instant gratification. Everyone wants everything on-demand, when that isn’t always realistic. Some people would rather have their book published in a mediocre state now than have to spend several years polishing.

  2. The problem I have with self-publishing is that it’s difficult to guarantee the quality. Unless one goes through a professional editor, the self-published material will likely be, well, unedited, and I wouldn’t want to read or publish something like that.

  3. Ben

    I’ll try the traditional route, first. I know a number of other writers who have self-published, and I’m not wild about the idea of having to constantly market in order to get even a few sales like they do.

  4. Well said. It seems like self-publishing has become an easy escape for many writers who do not want to hone their craft and create something truly excellent. It can be, though not always is, a quick way to say that they are a published author. I can respect the writer who self-publishes as an alternative to comprising their work though. Great post.

  5. I’ve self published my book at the end of last year, not because i was rejected by publishers, but because the publishing houses in my country, ah, well, they wont take me international, and I don’t wanna be restricted.

    Also, I never intended on making money with my self published book. Of course I wanted to cover cost, but I also wanted to share my writing with other people out there. I may not be an excellent writer, but i’m still learning, and part of my dream is to publish a book, so I did it.

    Yes, self publishing is hard. I did everything from scratch, even had my own designer, who was my friend and he did it for free. I had a few friends who were copywriters and my mom, to go through the book. I also went through my own book a million times and if there are any errors still left, they aren’t big ones, and it wont hurt me, cause I don’t intend on making money, like I said earlier. If I do a second edition to my book, then yes, that one would be flawless.

    I guess when it comes to self publishing, determination, faith and dedication must be there. You have to put a lot of effort into the book. You have to make it right.

    I have sold over 200 copies of my books, and the feedback I’ve gotten back are generally good ones. I’ve been told by parents that their teens and children who have read my book will read it in one sitting. I guess that’s good?

    To be honest, faith in my own skill, I’m not really sure if I have it. I doubt my book most of the time when I was prepping it to be published last year, but I know my dreams and I know I will not give up, so I pulled through. The rest, I live it up to God.

  6. I want to traditionally publish my book as well. While I believe that self-publishing offers freedom of choice as well as the ability to bypass the “gatekeepers,” it also opens up all the issues you listed above. I’m in the process of querying agents right now — I got my first couple rejections, and I’m buckling down.

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