Self publish and be damned!

I know the argument over whether to self publish or not has almost been flogged to death but it’s one of those things that I haven’t taken much notice of until I decided I might go down that route. I had a look on Kindle Direct Publishing today and although initially it made my eyes cross, it didn’t actually look too hard to manage after a bit of concentrating!
So one hurdle down, how many more to go, and is it a good alternative for someone who hasn’t yet cracked a publishing deal? I have recently had two near misses and a handful of praise from the few publishers I sent my manuscript to, so next on my list was to pay for a structural edit to see where I was going wrong.
So it has started. I am paying proper money in my mission to get one of my novels out to a wider audience. If I decide to self-publish, I will then have to pay for a proofread and a cover. Other miscellaneous costs will be necessary on the way such as paying for promotion and an IBSN number if I want to sell paper books as well as eBooks.
The upside of self-publishing – better royalties, immediacy of publishing, being able to design your own cover and set your own price, has been well documented. However, having paid more attention than usual to recent publishing deals of acquaintances, I discover that there do seem to be more pro’s than cons.
Of course the biggest upside of bagging a traditional deal has always been, for most writers, the kudos of having a publisher put their faith in your book. Other writers get this, but the average reader with a kindle would never notice who published your book and if they did look they probably wouldn’t be much the wiser. And even the big publishers, who have the opportunity to sell your book to a wider audience, often e publish a book first and wait and see if it sells enough to merit a paperback print. CreateSpace can do this with print on demand (and they do a very good job) so that’s hardly a bonus, anymore.
Do I really want to give a publisher most of the profits on a work that has taken a year to write, just for the credibility and possibly a bit more promotion than I could do myself? Promotion is quite a big consideration if you have no fan base, but once again publishers expect you to do practically all of the marketing of your book yourself. Advances are almost a thing of the past and the publisher mostly has full control over price, cover and content. Some don’t even proof-read your book before they publish it and they still take a huge cut, in some cases as much as ninety per cent of the profits.
And yet… and yet… I still yearn to have one of my novels published by a ‘proper’ publisher.
I guess the answer is to keep going until I have enough of a platform to decide which one suits me best. Who knows, I could do both and be in a win/win situation. For the moment though, neither have happened, but to misquote a far better writer than I will ever be, in the future, ‘The odds may ever be in my favour.’
Jackie x

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8 thoughts on “Self publish and be damned!

  1. Whichever path you choose, Jackie, I’m sure you’ll be a success. I hope it won’t be too long until I can read your published novel – and I doubt I’ll care one way or the other how it got into print! xx

  2. Good luck on your chosen path. I would think that with self publishing being such a viable option these days that Publishers would be working very hard to add value to writers’ work, not to ‘just take the money’. I have to say that my publisher, Quercus, is fab and puts huge amounts into my book that I would struggle to do myself. So for me, right now, I’m happy to be mainstream published. I do a lot of my own PR, however. Lucky that I enjoy it! Thanks for this post, very interesting.

  3. Great post, Jackie. I’d say keep exploring and you’ll hit a point where it either feels right to do it or where you have reached the end of your current subs round and decide enough is enough. As you know, I was all set to go indie last year when my final couple of subs both came in with an offer. I still see indie as something I will do at some point or perhaps alongside my publishing deal. If we want to be full time writers, we need to consider all avenues. I look forward to seeing what decision you make.
    Jessica xx

  4. A great post Jackie…it’s certainly a valid choice these days and as wi everything, there are pros and cons.
    I look forward to reading your debut very soon 🙂
    Helen R 🙂

  5. You’ve summed the dilemma up very well. I’ve just self-pubbed my third book, so I am one who took the plunge. I’ve done all the m/s file preparation myself and, actually, it wasn’t rocket science. I paid for professional editorial services too – which was money well spent although not cheap, but my writing benefited from it. I had no intention of publishing a book that wasn’t as good as I could get it.

    I also paid for cover design, and I’m very glad I did, as I couldn’t have achieved anything like it myself.

    I did have the opportunity to sign with a publisher, last year. I lost sleep over the decision for about two weeks. I looked into the pros and cons, (as highlighted by you in your blog) and I discussed my options with a number of people. In the end, I decided that I was quite enjoying being in charge of my covers, my promotions, my ‘brand’. I didn’t feel ready to hand over the reins just yet, so I explained my view to the publisher and we went our separate ways, but with the door still open – should I change my mind.

    The down side of going it alone is that it is harder to just concentrate on the writing. I left a long career in sales and marketing in order to write. Ha! Now I’m still in sales and marketing but for my own book – and it’s actually more difficult (I find) when you’re selling your own stuff.

    Although, as you say, many publishers still expect the author to do a lot of the legwork themselves, anyway. At least I do receive all the royalties.

    It’s not for the faint-hearted but, in a world where a decent contract is as rare as hen’s teeth, it does get your work out there and read. Which is, after all, what we write for.

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