Thursday, August 4, 2011

Why Self- Publishing Is Not For least for now.

No hidden meaning intended with this picture, I just thought it was funny. :)

I have many friends who have embarked in the world of self-publishing. Many have had great success with it, in fact. As they watched me through the disastrous situation with my former agent, they've begun trying to lure me to the "other side."

Despite the triumphs of my friends, I am still refusing to go that route and before I drown under the cries of "join us, join ussss!" (Sorry, friends, I gotta tease ya a bit.) I feel compelled to state my personal case. Here I go, in no particular order.

1.) Self-pubbing the "Right way" costs money. Yeah, anyone can throw their work up on Smashwords and other sites, but the most successful self-pubbed authors hire editors, cover artists, and pay for various forms of promotion. My funds are limited in that capacity. Speaking of promotion.

2.) All authors, whether commercial or self- pubbed, have to spend a lot of time and effort in online promotion. But I've noticed that the best self-pubbers are almost superhuman in their web presence. ::cough Jamie DeBree::cough Between my job, my family, and my writing/ editing schedule, it's enough for me to keep up with the blog/ twitter/ facebook. Still, I think I'm doing fairly well.

3.) Security. All respected authors have specific lines that the reader trusts to get what they expect from. i.e. unknown authors become an insta-buy for faithful readers of specific imprints. I would feel far more confident and honored for my work to be among a successful imprint.

4.) I WANT AN EDITOR!!!! A good editor supports your work and is behind you 100% ....but she won't let you go out in public with your fly unzipped, figuratively speaking. ;) There is so much I don't know about the industry and I would feel much more comfortable for an expert's advice on keeping my readers happy.

5.) I want a team behind me. Besides an editor, commercial publishers have marketing/ publicity departments. They do a bunch of mathematical calculations and secret magic ceremonies to determine the most profitable circumstances for your book release. Like, X-genres sell best in the fall, X types of titles are trending...or X author has a new release that month so let's do a different month so she won't overshadow you. How cool is that?

6.) I want a profitable cover. Yes, I've seen some really bitchin' covers in self-pubbed books, but a publisher's art department has even more resources. They have their own magic ceremonies to determine what cover will attract readers. Bold colors or pastels? Embossed or flat font? Topless guy (mmmm) or embracing couple?

7.) A GOOD agent would be a godsend. I know jack about negotiating contracts, subsidiary rights, foreign sales, or when it would be appropriate to approach the editor about a new project. And hopefully my agent would help me get my manuscript in its best shape before the editor sees it.

Yes, self-published authors get to keep the majority of their profits, but for me, the benefits of commercial publishing I listed above are well worth the reduction of my royalties.


  1. Nice post based on logical reasoning. I'll be the first to admit that self-pubbing is a lot of work, the bulk of it being on the marketing side. You HAVE to get your name out there and that requires time, lots of it. However, with persistence it does start to pay off. Although my sales remain far from stellar, they are increasing and I've now been noticed and my work is being considered for film/TV rights as well as foreign rights. In the end, it's each writer's decision.

  2. Very well said, Brooklyn. I share your feelings and just don't think it's for me - at this time. Who knows what will happen in the future, but for right now you and I are on the same page. Glad to be on the ride!

  3. Thanks for the comment, Claude! I am so excited for the success you've been having with your work. Can't wait to see VIGILANTE on the big screen! Romance novels never get made into movies. :(

  4. You already know that I think you're really inflating the "magic" that publishers can do. It's not just about money (though I think you'll be sorely disappointed there too). What I read in this post is that fear and a lack of self-confidence is binding you to a fantasy. Personally I think you'll get a lot more of that "magic" you're looking for in a small digital publisher than you'll ever find with a big NY company.

    But we each have to walk our own paths. If this is what you think will make you happy, then I wish you the best of luck with it. I really, really hope I'm wrong, but I suspect you'll eventually find out what all those other authors with scads of publishing experience have - being published by a big house isn't nearly as "magical" as you seem to think it is.

    And regardless of how you publish, you really should make an effort to learn about contracts, negotiations, and all the "stuff" you say you want an agent to take care of. Because you'll never know if an agent is any good unless you know your contract is good (by virtue of being able to look at it yourself and know what you're signing) - just blindly trusting someone who stands to profit from your work is never a smart idea, IMO.

    I wish you all the best, you know I do. And if you ever change your mind, you know I'm here to help.

  5. Hey Jamie! I was wondering when you'd chime in. Seriously, I am in awe of your web presence and marketing savvy :) Not all publishers and agents are out to get you and many of my friends have gotten great book deals. I'm not expecting a mega-pay-off-my-mortgage kind of deal but I do hope to get the distribution that NY authors benefit from in at least digital and hopefully print too.

    A major benefit you have is that you control your release I get your next book quicker! LOVED your last one, BTW. It's my fave so far!

  6. Glad you liked the book - it's one of my favorites so far. :-)

    Just wanted to note - for my erotica, and for the last few books, I have done virtually *no* promotion, aside from a blog post. Seriously - I really don't think promotion does any good until you have a backlist going, and then books really do start to sell themselves.

    And for the record, my books are available at every major online bookstore, as well as some not so major ones, and both print and ebooks have turned up in bookstores around the world. And that's without me doing much of anything. NY can't do anything I can't as far as digital distribution goes. ;-)

    Publishers and agents aren't out to "get" anyone. They're out to make money (like we all are). Authors just get trampled in the process.

    I haven't forgotten I owe you an email - you're on my list, honest! :0)