We all want to see our names in print, to hold bound pages in our hands, filled with words we wrote. Some want it so badly, they forego the lengthy, discouraging process of traditional publishing to publish their own work through vanity publishing or print on demand. Sometimes it works. More often it doesn’t.
If you’re struggling over which road to take, check out these reasons to self-publish.
Good Reasons to Self-Publish
- You only want something to sell to family and friends.
If you just want a few copies to sell to parents, grandparents, and neighbors, and you don’t care about getting your story out to the world, a print-on-demand service like Lulu.com could be great. They only print a copy if someone has ordered it, which means you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars up front for a box of books that will collect dust in your garage. And you’ll get a real, bound and printed book with your name on it.
- You are already famous
If you are a politician, actor, musician, or blogger/twitterer/vlogger with hundreds of thousands of followers, self-publishing could be a great idea. You already have your marketing channels in place, you’ll have total creative control of the publishing process, and you’ll make more money per copy than you would through a traditional publisher (depending on the prices you set).
- You know a lot about marketing and are willing to spend as much time marketing as writing.
Amanda Hocking sold enough self-published ebooks to become a millionaire in less than a year. But her success is something of a fluke. Thousands of writers have tried the same and failed.
You have to work to get your name out there. Christopher Paolini, for instance, promoted his self-published Eragon by touring the country for an entire year, speaking at schools and libraries in full costume, before it was picked up by Knopf.
But perhaps the biggest clue is this: both Hocking and Paolini ended up signing traditional book deals. Self-marketing, even when successful, is exhausting, even if you aren’t traveling around the country, and have opted to focus on online marketing. There’s as much (if not more) competition for attention on the web as in real life. You have to hit all the major social networks, make an impression, build an audience, and keep producing good content—all in addition to writing that sequel.
I’m in marketing, for crying out loud, and I wouldn’t want to market my own novel. Every day, I see the work it takes, and the number of highly intelligent, highly talented people required to make it work. It is a full-time job. Know that if you take this route, you will absolutely be sacrificing writing time. And even with all that, it still takes luck.
Self-publishing isn’t out of the question. In fact, the increasing popularity of ebooks means that self-publishing is a more viable option than ever. But look at the points above and consider carefully before you decide to abandon traditional publishing. You’ve been rejected. So what? Everyone gets rejected. Get back
on the horse in the swivel chair. Successful people are just the ones who didn’t quit.
A closer look at indie publishing with Tracey Marchini on Nathan Bransford’s blog.
Agent Rachel Gardner explains why self-publishing won’t hurt your chances for traditional publishing (anymore).
If you decide to talk the plunge into indie publishing after all, better start learning about marketing.