Sunday, August 30, 2015

To Self-Publish or Not To Self-Publish...That is the Question

As I make steady progress on a current project, I've been mulling over what I want to do with it in the future. Do I want to submit to agents? Publishers? Do I want to self-publish? It's a difficult decision that I'm looking at from all the angles. Today, I'm looking at the self-publishing aspect and why it seems less and less likely I'll do it. At least, for now.

I have a number of writer friends who have done quite well for themselves in self-publishing. They've covered the bases with hiring cover artists and editors and put out books that could compete with any traditionally published book out there. I'm proud of them and their efforts and heartened to see that good old fashioned hard work can pay off. That self publishing finally has a growing segment of writers who take pride in their work and treat it like the business that it truly is. But is it for me? Is it really something I could pull off?

I'll be the first to admit, I'm not business minded. And while I love the idea of complete creative control, I loathe the idea of coordinating all the other stuff necessary to launch a successful self-published book. I'm not organized enough. Just the idea of it feels overwhelming. Now, I've already had a taste of the work involved as part of a self published anthology. That project had nine people. Nine people to discuss details, make decisions and spread out both the costs and the labor. I am only one.

And money? Yeah, that's another issue. It's damn expensive. I don't have the money necessary to afford a professional editor, cover artist, formatter and advertising. Hell, I can't even afford to adequately advertise my published books. But plenty of others self publish at little to no cost...that's what some of you are thinking, right? Here's the thing. To me, that doesn't fly. I don't care who you are and how good of a writer you are--you need an editor. And that cover you threw together with your basic Photoshop skills? It screams of amateur. No matter what your friends say, it's not good enough. I don't want to settle for good enough.

So many times I see writers discussing their self-published projects and it kills me how many still think it's adequate to just have a couple friends proofread your work before hitting publish. Or even worse, spellcheck. I've also seen advice given about searching the internet to find an image for your cover, and free stock photo sites (hello...image copyright anyone?).  It boggles the mind how often I see writers just settle for one of these options--settling for 'just good enough' because they need to skimp on costs. That may fly for some people, but like I said, I don't want that.

If I'm going to do it, if I'm going to be taking the plunge and sticking my hat in the self-publishing ring, I'll be damn sure it's by paying professional people to do the things I can't. Because no matter how competent of a writer I am, I know I still need an editor. And no matter how good of an artist I am, I don't know jack shit about making book covers. And as much as I'd love to be able to pull a couple thousand dollars out of my rear end to make it all happen, I know that's not realistic. Not right now, anyway.

You may think, after this long winded post, that I've made up my mind. That I've talked myself out of it. The reality is, I haven't. I'm still open to the possibility. Love's Not Viral isn't yet complete, I have no time constraints beyond my own goals to get it finished. For now, I need to work on finishing the manuscript...but there it is, the stuff lurking in the back of my mind while I work.



  1. Well put, Nessie! All books need an editor. I love to support indie authors, but if they don't employ an editor it can make the read less enjoyable - sometimes just a little, sometimes a lot. That said, I've read a few traditionally published books that ended up in the 'did not finish' pile. I think the lesson is for all authors to listen to their editor and accept feedback.

    I look forward to seeing which path you choose in the future. Perhaps hybrid is for you? Lots of authors are doing that now.

    1. Yeah, possibly on the hybrid. I'm really not feeling organized enough right now...or in a financial situation where I an justify spending the money on it. I like being able to hand my manuscript to someone and say 'get this ready this for me; HA! Who knows? I do like the creative freedom it allows, though.

      I think what really irks me is that there are so many authors who work so hard and spend so long getting a project right. Then you get someone who comes along and slaps a half-assed cover on their spell-checked novel and puts it up on Amazon. No regard for quality, the work involved, or the business aspect, just 'I want to be published--look, I'm a published author!'. Well yeah, that's great...except, you're creating a product you want people to pay money for. Shouldn't you always put your best work forward? I don't know. I guess I just don't like shortcuts. :)

      There really is no substitute for a good editor, though.