Writing Tidbit #7– To Self-publish or Not

Yeah yeah, I know, I’ve been a real slouch about keeping on top of these posts. I am pretty dependable and dedicated, mind you, just not to things such as blogs…I don’t know, I just don’t much care for sharing my thoughts. Don’t have many rants either.

But anyhoo, as to self-publishing.

I’ve been debating over this idea for a while. Where I am, I’ve been publishing weekly online serials on sites like Wattpad and fanfiction.net, and I have a decent following. Not to mention I have a lot of fun doing it. Not only that, but I make decent money ghostwriting books for other folks and authors. It’s a viable option to me because, well, I like to write, I like to write whatever I darn freaking please, and it wouldn’t be much different from what I already do, minus the being told what to write (ghostwriting, prostitution, same thing).

The difference is I’m going to start having to invest in all that stuff a traditional publishing house already does for you in return for getting their giant cut of what your book earns.

And since I hate marketing and doing stuff like, well, blogs, I’ve tried going the traditional route first. Check out my rejections page and you’ll see how that is going.

But to make it real simple and straight forward for y’all who are in the same boat as me, here are the pros and cons of self-publishing (for dummies like me).

Pros:

  • You get the ultimate say in everything. When it gets published, what happens with your story, how much you sell it for, blah blah blah. I’m sure you’ve all heard the yodeling wails of authors who got their stories changed by the publishing firm against their wishes. Big boss editors who you’ve sold your book rights to can do that crap.
  • You get all if not most of the $$$ that comes from sales. When you go traditional routes, the publishing company get’s most of the mojo. You get (from what I’ve read) %10-%15 of the sale cut.
  • It’s quick. You can publish in the same day to a week, while with a traditional publish you’re looking at probably a year just to get your book out on the shelves, if that.
  • You decide the cover. 
  • You can get hard copies printed of your book. It sure makes you feel sparkly to hold it in book form and not printed-out-and-stapled-like-a-third-grader form.
  • Ultimate freedom. You decide what genre you write in, when you write, how you write, etc etc.

Cons:

  • You got to do everything. Traditional publishing firms don’t just get your book and poop it out in a pretty form for the unwashed masses to converge upon. They do the editing, formatting, marketing, and they actually have a set and ready audience to go. Which brings me to the next thing:
  • You have to build up your own readership. You don’t get the reputation of being published by ‘the gatekeepers’ to help you out. Got to do it all on your own, and that includes marketing. Do you even know what marketing is? No, it’s not just billboard ads or walking through the grocery store. There’s a lot of psychology, study, hard work, and networking involve. So any of you who are dreaming of hiding in your shed and punching out the books? Not going to work with self-publishing. Sorry.
  • You do your own cover. Yeah, I know, I listed this as a pro, but in actuality there is a buttload of research and know-how that goes into the design of a book’s cover. That whole ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover?’ Yeah. That’s, scuze my french, shit. The cover SELLS the book. So you either have to hire someone who has the know how or become a pro yourself and hope for the best. Good luck with those crayons of yours.
  • You have to find or hire a professional editor. If you want to be successful, that is. We writer’s can only self-edit our work so far until we need a fresh pair of professional eyes to see what we can’t in our pink-lensed world. Trust me, I learned that the hard way. Ugh, the memories…*cringes*
  • It comes out of your wallet. The illustrator for a decent cover, the editor, the marketing, etc. It’s going to take some investment on your part. And if you think you can be successful without any of this smart stuff? Then think of it this way: anyone can self-publish. That means there’s thousands, maybe even millions up millions of JUNK out there that you have to push your book through. You got to prove your book isn’t junk, because you don’t have the traditional publisher on your side to say to the world that it’s not junk (granted, publishers still publish trash themselves, but the principle is the same).

You have to make your book the best you can, by yourself.

I’ve probably discouraged quite a few of you by now, but at least let me say this: anything truly worth it takes hard work. It’s my motto in life. Self-publishing isn’t the easy way out, though it is a worth while way if you’re willing to do the work necessary to be successful in the venue. Traditional publishing has its cons as well. Neither way is wrong or right. It just all depends on what you value most and what it is you want.

Me? Well, for the longest time self-publishing scared me, because I saw it as pretty much admitting I wasn’t good enough to be published. When I think of self-publishing, I always remember this dorky, forty-something, freshman erotic writer in my English department who thought he was all that because of all the erotica he had self-published, and also how no one took him seriously. I admit, I have this serious complex about being taken seriously. I’m way too needy about proving myself.

Though, of late, while ghostwriting stories I don’t feel like writing, I’ve gotten down to why I write in the first place. I enjoy myself most when I’m writing my online serials for my readers and just being appreciated. Not to mention I’ve already paid the price to have someone guide me through the rewrite of my book and for the professional editing. I also have a deal with an illustrator for the cover already set up. And my readers from my online serials are all green to go for it.

I guess the only thing really stopping me is that unhealthy want of mine to be taken seriously. Not to mention I HATE marketing. The idea of throwing myself out there like some door to door salesman terrifies me. But even then I have some ideas of how to work with my social anxiety.

And, well, there’s always that other fear.

The fear of failure.

You know, that you’ll publish your book and that it will just sit there on Amazon for years and years with all the other dollar a read erotica and scribbled picture books written by ten year olds who were bored one summer. Or worse, that it won’t be at the bottom, but floating somewhere in limbo, neither good nor bad, but merely mediocre, and entirely unknown.

I don’t want to be mediocre.

…I guess, deciding to put your stories out there, no matter which way you do it, no matter which form, always takes a courage. You can’t get anything good unless you risk something, work hard, or put yourself forward.

I wonder if I’ll be brave enough to take that step. How about you?

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