3 reasons to self-publish

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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

  1. 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.

  1. 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).

  1. 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.

More Resources:

 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.

About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an award-winning copywriter, aspiring novelist, and barely passable ukulele player. Here, she offers writing prompts, tips, and moderate-to-deep philosophical discussions. You can also find her on and Pinterest.
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  1. Oooh. Nice. Very informative. How do you get a short story published?

  2. Well said. I have friends going the self-pub route, but the semi-successful ones (NOT in the Hocking league, by orders of magnitude) are spending much more time at it than I want to (or have available). I recently attended the RWA national conference, where there was a lot of talk about “digital first” publishing, and “great time to be a writer.” I hope so. I have, and enjoy, a Kindle. But I still want to see my name on the spine of a paper book.

  3. A very true post. Thanks, it needs to be said from time to time.
    Ba the way, I found a short story publisher by winnning a contest and submitting another good story right afterwards. But this is in Germany. Still, don’t give up.

  4. I appreciate the sharing of your insight, Stephanie.

  5. The main drawback of self publishing, for me, is the company. I have read some great self-published books, but with the exception of those few, most of them are a mess. A professional edit would help, but the writers aren’t bothering with it, because they know they’ll never make the cost back.

    It’s a shame, really. Self-publishing could be a great thing for writers. But with other writers who don’t care about the quality of their work clogging it up, I don’t have any desire to self-publish.

    Maybe after 10 years of rejections I’ll have different opinion…

    • Yeah, there’s a lot of talk about the industry and whether all this self-publishing is slowly killing the agency model, and whether or not the market will be flooded with the slushpile that is normally stopped by agents and editors. Nathan Bransford, a former agent whose blog is linked above, says he isn’t worried. He pointed out that it also means that really good writers who’ve been rejected by the traditional methods will now have a chance to get their work out there. I can see his point, but I’m not sure I agree. It’s hard enough finding a decent book to read now – imagine if there was no filter, except maybe what was popular. And we’ve all seen that what’s popular is hardly ever what’s truly good.

      • I think I’m kind of with you. I can’t fathom how some books become popular. It’s enough to make me want to give up writing. Why am I working so hard when THIS is what’s selling? LOL

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