For those of you who may not know, self publishing is when an author takes it upon him/herself to publish a literary work independently. Traditional publishing is when an author works with an agent in order to sign a contract with a publishing company. The publishing company will then publish the author’s work for them.
I decided a few months ago that I wanted to self publish my first novel, State of Exception, for many reasons. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to go when it comes to publishing, but here is my list of the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of self publishing. These are based on my own experiences and if you’ve had similar or different experiences, feel free to add in the comments.
One of the main reasons that I decided to go down the self publishing route is because of the control that I get over my work. I get to keep all of the rights to my novel and make virtually every decision when it comes to the publishing process. Whether it’s the name of the book, how much it costs, or what the cover looks like, I get the power to make those choices. Through traditional publishing, that would simply not be the case.
Time and efficiency are also two huge reasons why I decided to go with self publishing. State of Exception is my first novel, so I am literally starting from the bottom and working my way up. If I were to try and publish traditionally, a lot of time would pass before my book ever saw publication. First, I would need to secure a literary agent before I could even think of getting the attention of publishing houses. It sometimes takes agents weeks to respond to a simple query letter, so I can only imagine how long it may take before they offer representation. If I were to get an agent, I would then have to wait for that agent to shop my novel around to publishing houses. Then, I’d have to wait through negotiations, edits, and any other changes by the publishing house before any sort of production begins on the novel. I’m not exactly sure how long all this could take, but I’m sure it can take at least a year. I’ve heard of people waiting years just to secure a literary agent. Call me impatient, but I am much happier with self publishing. I can have my content published whenever I am ready and I don’t have to go through so many people to get it published.
One of the biggest downsides of self publishing is that it does have a bit of a stigma attached to it. Some people have criticized self published books, arguing that the content can’t be nearly as good as the content in a traditionally published book. I think that as more self published authors become more recognized, this stigma will begin to fade. Until then, the stigma is definitely a slight negative.
Another downfall of self publishing is that you are your own marketing team. When you publish an e-book on Kindle, Amazon doesn’t send out press releases about it. You will be the only one in charge of promoting your book. Besides your family and friends, nobody else will know that your book even exists.
So. Much. Formatting.
I think my least favorite part about the self publishing process is the formatting for different platforms. It’s not impossible, but it is tedious.
For someone who is self publishing for the first time, like me, there is also a lot of research to be done. I have a BA in Journalism with a concentration in Professional Writing so I figured that I was totally prepared to self publish. Well, I was wrong. There were so many little things that I needed to educate myself about before I was ready to self publish.
Lastly, you may need to make a small investment into your self publishing career. The only things that I spent money on were securing a domain name and my ISBNs. Still, some people spend hundreds of dollars on cover art, formatting, etc. I would definitely do some research because it’s always a little ugly when unexpected costs come up.
Well there you have it. So far, I would say that my self publishing experience has been an overall positive one. I’m releasing State of Exception on digital platforms Friday, July 18 and I am excited to see how my opinions of self publishing may change once my novel is officially published.
Until next week,