Tuesday, 12 October 2010

To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish...


...that is the question.

OK, so is it viable? I've been pondering over the idea for a while and have come up with a few pros and cons.


PROS

Well...IT CAN WORK – and here are a few name s to prove it...

William Blake, Lord Byron, T.S. Eliot, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Beatrix Potter, George Bernard Shaw, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Virginia Woolf.


Okay, okay, so they're not very recent, but Stephen King is self published, and that’s got to be a positive, surely. Plus there have been several recent successes that I know of William P. Young, Jeremy Robinson and J.A. Konrath for example.

And of course on-line self-publishing is huge, with sites like LULU and the options to upload your novel onto the Amazon Kindle. And with print on demand sites like Blurb you could have your novel in your excited mitts before you could say, ‘Harry Potter’. You could even print a few copies and see how your book is greeted. Perhaps promote it on your own website, on You Tube (if you know a clever person who could make a mini-film plug for your book), and through social networking. Then, if it goes down a storm, you may even nab yourself a publishing deal for any reprints. All sounds pretty brilliant to me! Easy peasy!

CONS

It has to be said, publishers and agents have the skills needed to take what you have written and turn it into a marketable book. As they look at your original manuscript they are immediately aware of the many changes needed before it can be slipped on the best seller shelves at Waterstones or WH Smith. I’m certain if I was EVER lucky enough to get an agent, they would make many changes to my novel. A definite reason for going down the traditional route if at all possible.

You have to be BRILLIANT at selling yourself with self-publishing. It won't be easy convincing people to open your book if you haven’t got a publishing company behind you.

I have to admit, I may one day self-publish, as my sister loves my book. ;-) But I'm only going to do the self-publishing walk, if/when the agent/publisher route fails. And with odds like 14,400 – 2 chance of getting an agent stacked against me - it probably will. So, for that very reason, I see nothing wrong with a writer who has spent years writing a book, having the opportunity to see their work in print - even if they only sell twenty copies.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom on the getting an agent front. I know from having my full MS read by Darley Anderson that it is possible to get agents interested in our work (or perhaps that was just a fluke).

For the moment, I'm still praying for an agent to notice me. I’ve even had my book Bubblecow-ed especially. Ooh, and I must tell you, the lovely editor at Bubblecow cried while reading my book (in a good way...well at least I think it was in a good way).

Currently, my chapters are winging their way to four agents. I'm not excited. I’m expecting absolutely NOTHING. As I know, if all else fails – I WILL SELF PUBLISH.

Ooh, and here's a couple of interesting posts on the subject...

Nathan Bransford - Should you self publish? (Thanks due to Karen for pointing me Nathan's way :-))

The Blood Red Pencil - Self publishing numbers game.

24 comments:

Ellie said...

This is such a tough one because there are so many excellent writers out there that will never be offered a publishing deal. What does a writer do if they absolutely believe in their novel and cannot find a publisher?

Jarmara Falconer said...

If you are going to self-publish(even in the future) please make sure you have your MS word perfect because that more than anything give it away as being self-published. I see nothing wrong with self-publishing if you are fully aware of the pros and cons and willing to work hard. Someone else who was self-published and then went on to being taken up by Faber & Faber was G.P.Taylor


Good luck with all your writing.

Tom Foolery said...

Right Ms Allsorts, IF you go down this self publishing route, what I need to know (purely from a selfish angle - mind!) will you be having a Book Launch Party???

(and don't you be giving up hope yet m'dear on being published, for life is a long dance. Sometimes a quick step will not do)

TFxx

Casdok said...

Difficult one.

Lane said...

Good luck with it - whatever route you decide to take.

And thanks for the links.

Flowerpot said...

keep going Mandy and well done you for perseverance and having DA read your ms - if they do, others will too. I'm possibly looking into s/pub for my non fiction book but like you haven't given up on publishers yet!

B said...

if you do end up going down the self-publishing route i'd recommend talking to beleagered squirrel who has just self-published a gorgeous one.

i look forward to reading at some point.....

Talli Roland said...

The million dollar question! I think it can be good, especially for nonfiction and if you already have a platform. It can be detrimental if you do it before your book is ready. And I think it takes a hell of a lot of promotion to sell. Depends what you're looking for!

Colette McCormick said...

That's a toughie. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Amanda said...

I agree entirely, Ellie. Like you say, there are so many excellent writers and a handful of publishing deals. I compare it to the brilliant actors/singers who never get that well deserved break.

Thanks for the advice and the good luck, Jamara! I think it would be extremely hard work – especially the selling yourself bit, which I struggle with. Thanks for letting me know about G.P.Taylor too. :-)

TF – you're at the top of my list when it comes to invites! And of course there will be a Book Launch Party with wine and Pringles and everything! xx

It is indeed, Casdok.

Awh, thanks Lane. :-)

Thanks FP – and good luck to you if you go down the self-publish route with your non-fiction. (Or even if you don’t) I self published my local history book – it was about my old junior school, and I got the backing of 250 subscribers – which is another option, particularly if you know the topic is something you know a select group of people (in my case past staff and pupils) would be really interested in.

Ooh, thanks for the link, B. :-)

You’re so right, Talli ... I think I need to exhaust my agent/publishing options first ... and then, I will self-publish, just to say the past two years have really been worth it!

Thank you, Colette :-)

Karen said...

I still think it's an option best left until all convential routes have been exhausted. But if mine doesn't get published I'll definitely be getting some copies churned out for friends and family to read, whether they like it or not!

But yes, do check out Beleagured Squirrel's story. I ordered a copy of her book and it's beautifully and professionally presented :o)

(I'm sure you'll be published one day though!)

HelenMHunt said...

I'm sure you'll come up with the best option for you. Don't give up on publishers yet x

Amanda said...

Yes, you're right, Karen. And you are being PUBLISHED! :-) But I know what you mean. :-) I must send for Beleagured Squirrel's story - just to see how it's done WELL!

Thanks Helen, I will exhaust all my options and myself, and then take up art (perhaps not!) ;-)

xx

Madeleine said...

At last the link works to this post. Yes the self publishing conundrum. There's some dire rubbish out there that's been self published and some absolute gems. I guess you can say that about things that were published the traditional way too LOL! Great post. :O)

Amanda said...

Thanks Madeleine. :-))

Karen said...

Ooh, I love your new look blog :o)

penandpaints said...

Those odds of getting an agent are horrible! Agghh!
I'm so impressed that Darley Anderson wanted to read your full MS. That is surely encouraging. Best of luck with the 4 agents.
I'm with you, if all else fails, self publishing is a possibility.

Amanda said...

Ooh, thanks Karen. I've been having a bit of a change. So much quicker to decorate your blog than your house!! I also realised I'd managed to disable the link to my 'how many womag writer's are there link'. Gawd knows how.

Hi P&P - they are awful! Easy to wonder why we bother! Yes, I was REALLY encouraged by DA at first - and very excited. But I'm convinced now it was a complete fluke!

Patsy said...

I'm sure self publishing can work, but I don't think it'd be any easier to be financially successful that way than via the tradtional route.

Amanda said...

I totally agree, Patsy. :-)

Rachael Harrie said...

Hey Amanda, best of luck with your submissions. Can't believe you've written about ghosts as well - I have too (SQUEE!). I think definitely try the agent route first :)

It's great you've joined my Crusade, can't wait to get to know you better :)

Rach

Amanda said...

Thanks Rach. Exciting that we've both written about ghosts! Looking forward to being part of your crusade!
:-)

Adina West said...

Hi Amanda, like you I've reserved self-publishing as a back-up option for if conventional publication doesn't happen. These days it's so very easy to do, as you say.

Your magazine sales show you can write, so I think that would automatically give you much better odds with agents. The dispiriting part of this whole process is that perseverance is such a huge part of eventual success. More important, dare I say it, than writing quality?

A manuscript might be great, but for some reason or other isn't quite right for the market at the time so won't sell. That's why when one book has been revised to death and submitted and rejected it's essential to grit your teeth and write something new. There are so many stories of writers who had their fourth, fifth, or sixth book published. But speaking as someone who doesn't have six completed novels under my belt I find it a terrifying thought...

Good luck with your revisions and querying.

Amanda said...

You're are right about perseverance, Adina. Every published author I speak to says 'don't give up' And I heard someone say that they went through 80 agents before finally getting accepted! Or it takes, like you say, the subsequent novels to catch an agent's eye.

Trouble is, a lot of us give up fairly early on, because the knock backs are sooo painful.

x