Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Self-publishing - Weighing In

With e-publishing and self-publishing it seems that its easier now for unknown authors to break into the industry than it ever was before. It seems that way, but that's not necessarily the truth. I recently read an article in the June issue of Writers Digest called "Revising Your Path to Publication" which pointed out the pitfalls of self-publishing and e-publishing. One of those pitfalls is that the reader must first know their audience and what medium to publish their writing in to reach that audience. For instance, if your audience is tech-savvy 30-somethings and your book is about business strategies for the competitive banker, an e-book would probably be your best bet. Personally, doing YA, I feel that e-books are not for me. Kids still get their books from libraries, borrow them from friends, and buy them at Barnes & Noble.

The article also drew attention to the importance of a reader base. If you are unknown, often you have no loyal fanbase already chomping at the bit for your next novel (or your first). It's a difficult thing to self-promote if you're brand new in the industry. Most writers, including myself, haven't the slightest idea about promoting themselves or their work. That's what agents and publishers are for, right? Well, not if you publish yourself. You become the agent, the seller, the publicist. You have to stock your inventory as if you were a store, distribute it (digitally or physically), and make sure you get paid something for your efforts.

Another article in the same issue of Writers Digest called "The Downside to DIY Publishing" by Steve Almond highlights the self-publishing woes I already mentioned, as well as some others. It's written in a humorous tone that gave it a lighthearted air without dulling the reality of self-publising. I can sum it up best in the writer's own words: "Do I mind feeling like a drug dealer?"

I'm old-fashioned in my views of writing and publishing. More used to the 'write a book, query, find agent/publisher, get published, get paid' approach. I don't know if it's pride or just stubbornness that keeps me feeling I should get paid for my work, not pay for my work. It's good, it deserves it, and I'm just going to keep believing in it until someone publishes it. At least, that's my opinion. I feel like anyone who has passion for writing, and doesn't just think their work is good, but knows it is, shouldn't opt for self-publishing without weighing the pros and cons.

While there are those who have done well through the DIY publishing route, I wouldn't recommend it for new writers who are awed and daunted by the industry as a whole. It's a lot to take on yourself. Don't quit your day job, write, and keep sending queries!


  1. Donelle, I hear ya! I'm definitely inclined to write a great novel (know thy audience), find an agent and try to get published the old fashioned way. However, I think we need a multipronged strategy. You make the point about audience age and preferences; that's really where all promo should begin, I think. I'm going the old fashioned route but covering my bases by experimenting with one novel that I hope to self publish. I always say, Why compromise? I'm going to use every possible avenue to publication.

  2. Definitely agree with you, Mary, on a pronged strategy. What I'm saying in my blog entry is more that you shouldn't choose only one method - or try to use one that doesn't work for you just because you heard about it. Try many different methods, sure! Good luck to you!


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