Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is self publishing the way to go?

Self publishing is the big question lately. Many authors are debating whether self publishing is the way to go. Traditional publishing houses still look down on SP and agents will not accept it in the bio of your query letter. Still SP is here and taking momentum. The success stories of such authors like Amanda Hocking, who
after selling over a million e-books in less than year's time, and has now taken a four book deal worth $2 million with St Martin Press, has opened a new door for aspiring authors. No longer do we have to wait six months for an answer from an agent, or a year until our book makes print. No longer do we have to break down in tears after the many rejection letters, or the nerve racking silence. A new publisher is in town, and it's got your name on it. However, is SP for you?

For those who have toyed with the idea of self publishing their book, I would like to provide just a little assistance. If your intentions are to produce the work on your own, please consider this. First of all, unless you're a professional who understands the different codes such as HTML, and XML you may be at a disadvantage. Although you can find apps and preview tools to assist you, there are many details to consider. You have to deal with multiple previews. With the fonts, you will need to figure out the face, size, bold/italics, caps, and the list goes on. Phoenix has put together a blog detailing each step for you.

If you are able to accomplish this on your own your cost can be minimal to none. If not, then, there are professionals you can hire to complete some of the work for you. Keep in mind that this will only produce an e-book, and although you can download apps on your Smartphones, iPods, and computers, many still insist on purchasing traditional hard cover books. This will be a group you will not be targeting with your e-book marketing. Some feel that is not an issue. I believe that in the future - possibly near future, but future, nonetheless - it will not be an issue. However, right now that is still a large market.

You are able to self publish hard covered books as well as e-books. If you choose this route to self publish your book then that can cost you anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars, depending on what services you require. A Print On Demand (POD) company will charge you an upfront fee for individual services, or a complete package. Here again, you will need to shop around to make sure you're getting what you want. The one thing you need to keep in mind is marketing. Marketing is a huge factor when self publishing with one of these companies. You need to make yourself available to market your book, which means time away from writing. You have now changed hats from a writer to a salesperson.

For those who are interested, I have listed below a small list of companies you can call. Please keep in mind that I do not endorse any of these companies, nor do I have any personal experience with any of them. As with anything else I recommend you do your homework.

iUniverse  1-800-authors or 1-800-288-4677
AuthorHouse  1-877-820-5393
Trafford Publishing  1-800-232-4444
Xlibris  1-888-795-4274

If this seems like too much work, then you're probably right, it is. However, anything worth having is worth working for. Writing is not an easy business, but it is rewarding.


  1. I have experience with iUniverse, which is now owned by AuthorHouse, and I have to dis-recommend both of them. I did go the self-publishing route, and my book was picked up by a traditional publisher -- although not with a deal like Amanda Hocking's!

    iUniverse was a nice company to work with when I used them, but they were sold to AH and I had nothing but trouble with them thereafter. They even continued to sell my book through Amazon after my contract with them ended. I absolutely do not recommend using them now!

    The thing about self-publishing is this: It is far too easy to publish your work as soon as you finish your first draft. Most authors need multiple drafts and lots of work with critique partners before their work has reached its potential. Go carefully, and keep your eyes wide open! It's possible to see success in the field, but you have to overcome the reputation of those who didn't work as hard.

  2. @Dianne, Thank you for informing us of your experience. This is exactly the kind of input we all need to guide us along.

  3. It's one of those decisions that different for everyone... I love reading "Why other people chose to do it this way or that way"... because I can take all of those reasons into consideration when I make a decision. But first, like Dianne said, you can't just write a first draft and expect to publish.

    Personally, I'm skeptical of a lot of the companies that have sprung up to help other self published authors publish a book... there is a lot of money in the "how to self publish market" and with that, comes a lot of scams, second rate companies, and companies that will charge too much.

  4. A writer should research the self-publishing options as much as he should research agents and traditional publishing houses before signing.