Saturday, January 12, 2013

Self-Publishing - Part 1

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I read self-published books often these days, as I'm sure many others do. There are some incredible stories out there, and they deserve attention. I've also self-published - one fiction novella to this point, but my first full-length novel is in edits right now (and no, I'm not ONLY self-editing, but we'll get to that later) and will be self-published when it's ready.

The pros of self-publishing are easy to figure out. The biggest one is that you retain all rights to and control over your own work. You can do with it what you want when you want without having to get permission from anyone else. Do you need to revise it? Go for it. Want to pull it from the market for some reason? You can do that, too. No permission needed from anyone. Nice, eh? And if a new format type comes out? You can go straight to publication in that format without having a hassle. (This will resonate with those who traditionally published years ago and are having trouble getting publishing rights from their publishers so they can get those books out in e-book formats.)

You're responsible for your own editing, manuscript formatting and cover design. Those can be pros or cons depending on your personality, areas of interest and skills in such matters. Personally, I consider those pros. Others may not. They don't want to deal with finding their own editors, or document formatting, or designing their cover or hiring someone else to do it. For them, I would suggest traditional publication. Traditional publishers take care of all of that for you. That's part of what you pay them for with a share of your royalties. Take advantage of that expertise.

You will make mistakes as a self-publisher. You will learn some things by trial and error, and you'll find as I have that what works for one book or one author may not work at all for you. Keep reading, learning and talking to others to see what you can glean from their experiences - both good and bad. I find this to be a fun part of the whole publication adventure - talking to other authors.

However, there are things self-publishers really should do with regards to the finished product, and I'm seeing problems in these areas. Two areas are special issues. I'll get into those over the next couple of weeks.

What about you? Have you self-published? What did you like or not like about it? Are your books available as e-books, paperback, or both?

Are you considering self-publication? What's drawing your interest in that direction? What would you like to know that might help you avoid some of the pits others have fallen into?


  1. Dawn ~ I think this is an important post. As an ACFW member, and also a member of RWA whose monthly magazine just had a series of articles about self-publishing, I am impressed with your post. Those of us who have hoped for years to be traditionally published, have fears, doubts and worries about how we will be accepted if self-published. I know I want the validation from a traditional publishing house. Then, maybe, I would be bold enough to self-pub. There's the rub. Should I step out and admit no publishing house has accepted my work? Or, should I be bold and not even mention the fact when I send my novel to friends and contacts?

    Self-publishing is very scary, Dawn. Can you reassure those of us who are in limbo about it?

    1. Self-publishing CAN be scary, most definitely. It helps to come alongside others who have experience with it and can walk you through the scary parts. Right this moment, there are lots of people who have done it or are doing it. Some of them have never published traditionally, some have and are switching to self-publishing, some are doing both. There's a fabulous Yahoo group started by another ACFW member who is self-published called Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN) that is a great resource. Very supportive, helpful group of people.

      As for worrying about what others will think - don't. There are so many reasons people get rejected by traditional publishing houses that have nothing to do with the quality of the writing - they've filled their publication slots for that year; the book doesn't fit with their individual criteria (but would fit another publisher you may not have contacted - and just how many are there?); a particular editor didn't like a project another editor in that same house may have loved; and many others. Those are just off the top of my head.

      As far as how you'll be accepted for trad pub if you self-pub? I know several authors who have self-pubbed then ended up being offered contracts from trad pubs because their self-pubbed works have done so well (and some of those were multi-rejected by trad pubs before being self-pubbed). Most have opted to remain self-publishers and said no to the contract offers.

      And as harsh as this may sound, I don't care about "validation" from the world of men, when it comes right down to it. I go where I feel God leading. In my case, He clearly led me to walk through the self-publishing door. It means more work for me in some regards (and less stress in others since I don't have to operate according to anyone's deadlines but mine), but I'm up to the challenge. I know some will look down on me (as I've seen them do others) for self-publishing. But I honestly don't care. As long as I'm telling the stories God guides me to write and I'm doing the best I can to get them out properly and according to God's leading, how the naysayers respond isn't my concern. I have to do as God leads, not worry about whether others will approve of what I'm doing.

      What I suggest first and foremost to anyone on the fence - PRAY! See where God leads you. HE knows where you're supposed to go and how you're to get there. Ask Him to reveal that to you. He will. If His plan for your work is to go through a traditional publishing house, then go that route (and pray about every submission, so you send those proposals where God tells you to). If not, then get hooked into the self-publishing community and let others who are experienced with it help you walk that road so it's not quite so scary. :-)

  2. I've self published my second book, retained the publishing rights for my first book, and have just published it. The hardest part is getting the word out there. There are times when I feel that marketing is harder that writing. I've had assistance with publishing both as ebooks, but am looking to publish the second as a paperback, on my own. It's a big, scary way to do things, and I second guess myself often.

    1. I did mine in paperback (using Create Space) before I did ebook format. It was WAY easier than getting the e-book format correct. Create Space makes document formatting so easy - just don't make the mistake I did with my first proof - don't forget the page numbering! LOL You don't use such things or ebooks, but you definitely want them in paperback.

      Second guessing. Don't you just LOVE that creature? NOT! LOL

      Marketing is definitely THE hardest part of publishing. With the way traditional publishing has gone in recent years, you're basically on your own with marketing no matter how you publish. Unless you're a big name author, they don't help much anymore with marketing and most of that burden is put on the author. So you face that no matter how you publish, unless you've really made a name for yourself writing like Dee Henderson, Colleen Coble and others like them.