Monday, December 12, 2011

Self Publishing...Or Not...Again

Quote of the Day: "Do you know what would be sad? If there was a zombie apocalypse and we got infected and ate our pets." ~Overheard 13-year-old say to 10-year-old while doing dishes.

There's been some sparks flying--again--on the whole To Self Publish or Not debate. So, I'm chiming in with my two cents.

Here is a great quote by Edan Lepucki (The Millions) from an interesting article about her reasons for not self publishing. I agree with with much of what she has to say, but not all.

I found this especially in line with my own thoughts:
Readers themselves rarely complain that there isn’t enough of a selection on Amazon or in their local superstore; they’re more likely to ask for help in narrowing down their choices. So for anyone who has, however briefly, played that reviled gatekeeper role, a darker question arises: What happens once the self-publishing revolution really gets going, when all of those previously rejected manuscripts hit the marketplace, en masse, in print and e-book form, swelling the ranks of 99-cent Kindle and iBook offerings by the millions? Is the public prepared to meet the slush pile?

Is the public ready to meet the slush pile? I'm not. And as more kids are getting e-readers, parents have to be doubly vigilant to ensure their kids aren't downloading anything worse than just a poorly written book.

But, as she points out, blogs and other forms of reviews are already popping up to help readers wade through the slush.

My personal reasons for going with a traditional publisher are similar to Ms. Lepucki. Mainly, I want my manuscript to be its best. I want an editor telling me what's working and what's not. I want that stack of revisions to make the story better.

I recently started reading a self-published book with at least FIVE editing errors on THE FIRST PAGE! I don't want that to be me. I had to put the book down.

I have nothing against self-publishing whatsoever. It's just not for me--at least right now.

What are your thoughts?


  1. Well said. I wish I could think of an informative comment to go along with this comment....

  2. I've gone both routes. I have a traditional publisher who is publishing my co-written fantasy series. (First book was published a year ago, second book is coming up.) This year, I decided to withdraw an offer I had for publication for a standalone novel and publish it myself. But I think it really depends on the resources one has available and whether a person is confident that a book is what it needs to be. I've done a lot of editing, but you know how it is with your own work--you can edit your own books, but you'll miss things because you know what's supposed to be there. I knew I needed other eyes. I had a fantastic team of people who helped me with editing. I had a wonderful artist friend who agreed to work with me on the cover.

    My greatest hesitation with deciding to self-publish was that people would go, "Oh, she's only doing that because it's not good enough to be published."

    I think each person needs to decide for themselves what works and what doesn't. For me, I take each book as it comes and decide what to do with it. I do want my books to be the best that they can be, and I think if I were just churning them out and throwing them out for people to read, they would not be good. It's a long process after writing to do the editing, finding all of the overused words, the plot holes, redundancies, etc., and each book needs to have plenty of time given to it to make it what it needs to be.

    I definitely think there are pros and cons to both. :)

  3. @Brooke, stop being so cute!

    @Laura, I agree with you that there are definitely pros and cons to both. And a good outside editing job is a must. And I also--for now--worry about the stigma that is sometimes attached to people who self publish, and that was something that held me back. For authors who already have a good following, I think self publishing can be very effective.

  4. I would be hesitant to read something that is self-published, especially with all the selection that is already out there (like the quote said). Not that being published is a guarantee of quality or if it will fit my tastes, but if I had a choice between two books I'd never heard of, I'd probably pick the professionally published one. Seems like you're going to need some good word-of-mouth publicity to go with a self-published book.

  5. I have heard so many published authors who just say that people who can't get published the regular way aren't really ready to be published yet that I would seriously hesitate self-publishing because of the question of quality.

  6. @Michelle, I'm with you. I'd go with the published book and hope it's better. Published or not, there's still a lot of garbage out there.

    @Tasha, I think you've hit the nail on the head. A huge percentage of self-published literature is stuff from the slush pile. It's too bad that it's that way because it makes a bad name for the self-published stuff that is really good.

  7. So where does Amanda Hocking fit in? She's still at the forefront of the debate. (There was another interview with her on NPR last week, I think.) I haven't read her books, but isn't her story that she submitted writing to publishers, was rejected, then self-published? It seems the public is perfectly content with the slush pile.

  8. @Brent: I think Amanda Hocking is the exception. Every once in a while, someone breaks the mold. But for every Amanda, there's who knows how many 100's or 1000's of self published books out there wallowing in no-where land. Some of the ones I've read I couldn't even finish the first chapter because they so badly needed editing.

    But, for many people, self-publishing is a great option and it's what they want and it makes them happy. It's just not what I want, at least right now.

  9. Oh, I'm with you on this. I'm not ready to go for self-publishing, either.
    About Hocking, I've seen more written about how bad her writing is than...well, I don't think I've seen anything positive about her books. But people are buying them. I loved the comment that the public will be regretting letting loose the slush pile, but I would argue it's already out there.

  10. I am a new writer and want so badly to get a book out there for people to read. The idea of self publishing seemed like an awesome option for me until the day I got an email from Stan Swanson at Dark Moon Digest telling me he wanted to use one of my short stories in a book. It made me realize that by going the traditional route I would get more fulfillment out of what I do. It made it feel more meaningful. Not like I was just throwing something out for the masses to read.

  11. @T.J.: Interesting insight and great comment. Thanks!