Self publishing: should I do it?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 11:56 AM GMT
    Hey guys, I have this question for you and I thought you would help me out. Ok, here goes: I have contemplated with the idea of having my written works published. I know that if I were to go to a reputable publisher (Viking and the like) that I would have to worry about royalties, publishing fees and stuff like that. But I recently saw a news story on television about this couple who self-published their books to make money. I am not naïve and I am aware that not all results are typical.

    So my question to you is: should I self-publish?

    Any feedback will be deeply appreciated.

    I guess it's time for me to give myself a kick in the ass and finish those novels I've been working on!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 11:59 AM GMT
    Musicians have been self-releasing music for a few years now, and it's become very popular indeed. (See- bandcamp.com). It cuts out the middle-man and means a higher proportion of the profit goes into the pocket of the talent. I'm sure there's a similar service for literature.

    I, personally, have released so much music for free, or through small independent home-run labels that operate entirely through online sales and websites such as bandcamp.

    But... of course, it means you need to do all the PR and promo yourself, which can be very difficult! With so many people trying to push their own work, very few get picked up for reviews, articles or media attention. If you can afford to, it might be worth looking into forking out for some private PR.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 12:29 PM GMT
    Self publishing is the easiest part, it takes very little time. If you want to sell your self published work, you have to market and get press and that's the hard part.
    One of the things traditional publishers do for authors is that they have the infrastructure to help attract readers, but you will pay in royalties for that skill. Then again, if you self publish all by yourself, you will have an extensive learning curve on the public relations and full time sales job needed to get people to read your work, and then if your work is not really marketable, you may end up with a lot of effort for little sales.
    That said, other than the online retailers cut (Amazon gets 30%) you keep all the other money generated.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 1:20 PM GMT
    sideways2134 said
    I guess it's time for me to give myself a kick in the ass and finish those novel I've been working on!

    In addition to the publisher services already mentioned above, with self-publishing you will not have the benefit of a professional editor working with you. And an editor just doesn't check your spelling and grammar.

    A good editor works closely with you in ways that affect the fundamental structure of your work. In a fictional piece they may advise that you have too many characters, or not enough. Maybe a plot element doesn't work, or your dialogue for a character is incongruous, or some facts are anachronistic. In non-fiction they may catch you being redundant or unclear. (I used to be the editor of a professional journal that often dealt with historical issues)

    I like to make the analogy of a music composer and an arranger. Not a perfect comparison, but the writer supplies the creativity, and the editor gives it the polish. I knew a guy who self-published a semi-autobiographical novel about gay US soldiers in World War II, stationed around London prior to the Normandy invasion. A rather good story, but very rough in places, especially the final chapter, which began to read like a high school essay. I'm sure an editor wouldn't have let that happen.

    If you have excellent writing skills then fine, self-publish. But otherwise the benefits for the cost of using a publisher can be a finer product that gets better reviews, has greater exposure, and earns more. BTW, you may hire the services of an independent, freelance editor, but I couldn't guarantee their competency, the results unpredictable.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jun 20, 2013 3:03 PM GMT
    Have you gotten any feedback on your manuscripts? Books have to be extremely competitive, regardless of your publishing route. It's the most challenging of the creative fields, because you're demanding the most of your audience. Listening to a new song takes 3 to 5 minutes. Reading a novel is a commitment. Even the most avid readers will only read 5000 books in their lifetime, (about two books a week) and there are millions of books out there. Most written works never see the light of day.

    I'm not trying to burst your bubble, but you did say you were naive. There is another self published author on RJ, wrestlervic, and he said he's sold about 200 copies of his book since it's release. A small press in NYC can expect to sell about 5000 copies. A book with mass appeal however has no limits, and that's why occasionally self publishing pays off.

    I would find out if your book is loved before you publish it. You need people who are saying it's their "favorite" book, that you're a genius, etc. Even then, it's a humbling endeavor.

    I have a new book which I may decide to self publish, but I'm wary. I already have at least 100 people anticipating my new novel, including some very supportive RJers who are familiar with my short stories. I believe they will love it, but it's still a huge risk. I've had readers I trusted turn against me before, and that's a painful experience. In a way, circumventing the publishing process can set you up for disaster, but sometimes we have no other choice.

    Congratulations on writing a book. Stay focused on your craft, and good luck!! icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 3:25 PM GMT
    You should read a book called "How to Blog A Book" by Nina Amir. I highly recommend it.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jun 20, 2013 3:26 PM GMT
    seekmuscleluv saidYou should read a book called "How to Blog A Book" by Nina Amir. I highly recommend it.


    Who's the publisher?
  • GWriter

    Posts: 1446

    Jun 20, 2013 3:28 PM GMT
    I did it (with a non-fiction book) through Amazon's in-house self-publishing company, Createspace, and ws pretty happy with the process. You don't get the marketing you might from a conventional publisher. But you retain all the ownership rights, which is nice.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 3:28 PM GMT
    I self published in a collaboration with my sister. She illustrates. We did it to see what our combined work would look like as a finished product. We're going to do more together.

    So far, so good, but bear in mind we're not trying to make money with it, although that would be nice.

    -Doug
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jun 20, 2013 3:32 PM GMT
    GWriter saidI did it (with a non-fiction book) through Amazon's in-house self-publishing company, Createspace, and ws pretty happy with the process. You don't get the marketing you might from a conventional publisher. But you retain all the ownership rights, which is nice.


    How were your sales?
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jun 20, 2013 3:52 PM GMT
    Herman Melville was 32 when he published Moby Dick. He expected the book to launch his career, but it was met with scathing reviews and poor sales. He gave up on writing and lived out the next four decades of his life in obscurity. It wasn't until 25 years after his death that Moby Dick finally became popular. Now it's considered one of the greatest books ever written.

    Then there are authors like Stephanie Meyer, who pump out a so-so book series and strike it rich. There's no justice in the arts. You just have to write the books you would want to read, and celebrate when you know you've done your best.
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Jun 20, 2013 3:57 PM GMT
    HottJoe said You just have to write the books you would want to read, and celebrate when you know you've done your best.

    If only my job didn't insist on eating up all of my time icon_evil.gif
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Jun 20, 2013 4:02 PM GMT
    HottJoe saidHerman Melville was 32 when he published Moby Dick. He expected the book to launch his career, but it was met with scathing reviews and poor sales. He gave up on writing and lived out the next four decades of his life in obscurity. It wasn't until 25 years after his death that Moby Dick finally became popular. Now it's considered one of the greatest books ever written.

    Then there are authors like Stephanie Meyer, who pump out a so-so book series and strike it rich. There's no justice in the arts. You just have to write the books you would want to read, and celebrate when you know you've done your best.

    This is so true in all the arts. Until a few years ago I was a fine arts painter. I was never very financially successful as an artist (although I sold WAY more paintings than Van Gough ever did and I'm no where near his genius) BUT I did create some truly amazing paintings and achieved some local recognition (two are in local museums). I had to quit because I simply could no longer afford to keep my studio but I've never regretted exploring and pushing the boundaries of my own vision.

    So I think Joe has it exactly right. Whatever your art, do what you love and just keep doing it, getting better and better all the time. You may or may not 'get rich' and the quality of your work may or may not have any bearing on that part of the equation.

    I wish I knew how to write (by which I mean tell a story that actually involved the audience's imaginations) as I've had tons of experiences in my life that make excellent 'seeds' for that sort of thing. Unfortunately I haven't that 'gift'. icon_sad.gif
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jun 20, 2013 4:16 PM GMT
    AMoonHawk said
    HottJoe said You just have to write the books you would want to read, and celebrate when you know you've done your best.

    If only my job didn't insist on eating up all of my time icon_evil.gif


    Yeah, I know how that goes. It can be much harder to face your work when your day job is exhausting you. But the days, months, and years will go by either way. If you want to have a pile of books to show for it, you just have to force yourself to write every day. More importantly, you have to learn how to edit your work. When people read my fiction they always comment on my style, which I achieve by doing lots of rewriting, and cutting and pasting. Right now, I have a book just simmering on the back burners of my mind. I haven't actually opened the file in several weeks, because I need to clear my head and face it all over again from a fresh perspective.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jun 20, 2013 4:18 PM GMT
    MikeW said
    HottJoe saidHerman Melville was 32 when he published Moby Dick. He expected the book to launch his career, but it was met with scathing reviews and poor sales. He gave up on writing and lived out the next four decades of his life in obscurity. It wasn't until 25 years after his death that Moby Dick finally became popular. Now it's considered one of the greatest books ever written.

    Then there are authors like Stephanie Meyer, who pump out a so-so book series and strike it rich. There's no justice in the arts. You just have to write the books you would want to read, and celebrate when you know you've done your best.

    This is so true in all the arts. Until a few years ago I was a fine arts painter. I was never very financially successful as an artist (although I sold WAY more paintings than Van Gough ever did and I'm no where near his genius) BUT I did create some truly amazing paintings and achieved some local recognition (two are in local museums). I had to quit because I simply could no longer afford to keep my studio but I've never regretted exploring and pushing the boundaries of my own vision.

    So I think Joe has it exactly right. Whatever your art, do what you love and just keep doing it, getting better and better all the time. You may or may not 'get rich' and the quality of your work may or may not have any bearing on that part of the equation.

    I wish I knew how to write (by which I mean tell a story that actually involved the audience's imaginations) as I've had tons of experiences in my life that make excellent 'seeds' for that sort of thing. Unfortunately I haven't that 'gift'. icon_sad.gif


    Congratulations on your success!icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 4:30 PM GMT
    I've self-published three books and have helped other people self-publish their books by formatting and preparing the required files correctly.

    You have two choices: self-publish, or wait for a publisher. The likelihood of any publisher taking a chance on a new writer is next to zero. They want you to already have a following and have drummed up all the interest yourself. Then they'll come in and take your profit. Why would you want that?

    Self-publishing does not mean a publisher won't look at you. As a matter of fact, that's how they pick new writers in many cases, when they see something has taken off.

    So make your money on your own, and if it takes off and goes viral, then see if a publisher bites. Either way you'll have people reading your hard work, and you make money.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 4:37 PM GMT
    HottJoe saidHave you gotten any feedback on your manuscripts? Books have to be extremely competitive, regardless of your publishing route. It's the most challenging of the creative fields, because you're demanding the most of your audience. Listening to a new song takes 3 to 5 minutes. Reading a novel is a commitment. Even the most avid readers will only read 5000 books in their lifetime, (about two books a week) and there are millions of books out there. Most written works never see the light of day.

    I'm not trying to burst your bubble, but you did say you were naive. There is another self published author on RJ, wrestlervic, and he said he's sold about 200 copies of his book since it's release. A small press in NYC can expect to sell about 5000 copies. A book with mass appeal however has no limits, and that's why occasionally self publishing pays off.

    I would find out if your book is loved before you publish it. You need people who are saying it's their "favorite" book, that you're a genius, etc. Even then, it's a humbling endeavor.

    I have a new book which I may decide to self publish, but I'm wary. I already have at least 100 people anticipating my new novel, including some very supportive RJers who are familiar with my short stories. I believe they will love it, but it's still a huge risk. I've had readers I trusted turn against me before, and that's a painful experience. In a way, circumventing the publishing process can set you up for disaster, but sometimes we have no other choice.

    Congratulations on writing a book. Stay focused on your craft, and good luck!! icon_smile.gif



    ^This! +1000

    I'm currently publishing my work on a website at the moment and I get feedback on them from time to time as well as votes. I, too, hope to publish my novel before the summer ends.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 4:39 PM GMT
    HottJoe said
    AMoonHawk said
    HottJoe said You just have to write the books you would want to read, and celebrate when you know you've done your best.

    If only my job didn't insist on eating up all of my time icon_evil.gif


    Yeah, I know how that goes. It can be much harder to face your work when your day job is exhausting you. But the days, months, and years will go by either way. If you want to have a pile of books to show for it, you just have to force yourself to write every day. More importantly, you have to learn how to edit your work. When people read my fiction they always comment on my style, which I achieve by doing lots of rewriting, and cutting and pasting. Right now, I have a book just simmering on the back burners of my mind. I haven't actually opened the file in several weeks, because I need to clear my head and face it all over again from a fresh perspective.


    I write every day too and if I don't, I start to feel bad then don't write again for days a time.
  • GWriter

    Posts: 1446

    Jun 20, 2013 6:14 PM GMT
    HottJoe said
    GWriter saidI did it (with a non-fiction book) through Amazon's in-house self-publishing company, Createspace, and ws pretty happy with the process. You don't get the marketing you might from a conventional publisher. But you retain all the ownership rights, which is nice.


    How were your sales?


    Ok, at first but then trickled off when we stopped actively promoting. I split the profits with 2 other co-authors, so none of us are getting rich!
  • Apparition

    Posts: 3531

    Jun 20, 2013 7:32 PM GMT
    createspace.com owned by amazon is really the only choice unless you have money. you get the infrastructure, and it is the cheapest for actual printed books, and you only have to buy the one copy, so no huge investment. I have 6 art books through them. I have sold about a thousand of them locally, and maybe a hundred online. not anything you can live on.

    all the selling work is in your hands



    this is what you get when createspace prints colour books for you:

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 7:34 PM GMT
    HottJoe saidHave you gotten any feedback on your manuscripts? Books have to be extremely competitive, regardless of your publishing route. It's the most challenging of the creative fields, because you're demanding the most of your audience. Listening to a new song takes 3 to 5 minutes. Reading a novel is a commitment. Even the most avid readers will only read 5000 books in their lifetime, (about two books a week) and there are millions of books out there. Most written works never see the light of day.

    I'm not trying to burst your bubble, but you did say you were naive. There is another self published author on RJ, wrestlervic, and he said he's sold about 200 copies of his book since it's release. A small press in NYC can expect to sell about 5000 copies. A book with mass appeal however has no limits, and that's why occasionally self publishing pays off.

    I would find out if your book is loved before you publish it. You need people who are saying it's their "favorite" book, that you're a genius, etc. Even then, it's a humbling endeavor.

    I have a new book which I may decide to self publish, but I'm wary. I already have at least 100 people anticipating my new novel, including some very supportive RJers who are familiar with my short stories. I believe they will love it, but it's still a huge risk. I've had readers I trusted turn against me before, and that's a painful experience. In a way, circumventing the publishing process can set you up for disaster, but sometimes we have no other choice.

    Congratulations on writing a book. Stay focused on your craft, and good luck!! icon_smile.gif


    First, in answer to your question about receiving any feedback, pertaining to my manuscripts, the answer is no. Second, there were a few typos (corrected, by the way) on my initial posting. I apologize for any confusion.

    Thank you for your support!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 7:41 PM GMT
    wrestlervic saidI've self-published three books and have helped other people self-publish their books by formatting and preparing the required files correctly.

    You have two choices: self-publish, or wait for a publisher. The likelihood of any publisher taking a chance on a new writer is next to zero. They want you to already have a following and have drummed up all the interest yourself. Then they'll come in and take your profit. Why would you want that?

    Self-publishing does not mean a publisher won't look at you. As a matter of fact, that's how they pick new writers in many cases, when they see something has taken off.

    So make your money on your own, and if it takes off and goes viral, then see if a publisher bites. Either way you'll have people reading your hard work, and you make money.


    What was your genre? My genre is a hybrid of horror and gay romance--the first novel is anyway. My second novel, is more horror than anything else. I have a third one (also a hybrid of gay romance and horror) in the works. By no means am I producing thousand-page novels like my idol Stephen King, but I will produce an adequate amount. Someday I will, but for now I'm going to stay with smaller page numbers here (200-300).

    Sure the money sounds nice, but I am more concerned about having people read my works and enjoy them.

    Thank you for your support!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 7:52 PM GMT
    I've self-published two wrestling-related books on Amazon: "Growing Up Wrestling" and "Growing Up Wrestling 2," and a memoir called "Musings of a Dysfunctional Life" that several kind RJers have purchased and liked.

    My next will be a fiction, road trip, mystery kinda thing. Editing it now. And yes, CreateSpace is the way to go.

    It's so nice to have your finished work in your hands and others enjoying it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 7:53 PM GMT
    wrestlervic saidI've self-published two wrestling-related books on Amazon: "Growing Up Wrestling" and "Growing Up Wrestling 2," and a memoir called "Musings of a Dysfunctional Life" that several kind RJers have purchased and liked.

    My next will be a fiction, road trip, mystery kinda thing. Editing it now. And yes, CreateSpace is the way to go.

    It's so nice to have your finished work in your hands and others enjoying it.


    I'll have to check it out! Thanks!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 20, 2013 8:26 PM GMT
    They used to call these "vanity presses." You might at least try a conventional publisher first. There are a lot of them around--all different specializations and niches--and it might help you get a sense of how good the book really is.