Self-Publish Or Not

Vana Roth, author of A Nation of Expendables, consented to be my guest blogger today. I asked her if she ever considered self-publishing, and she responded: 

“I was curious about the process so I’ve been reading up on self-publishing. I never realized there were so many options available. This really sounds like a great way to go if you’re confident and tired of waiting for a traditional publishing contract. 

“If you’re the hands on type, you can contract all the necessary services like editing, copy-edit, formatting and illustration (cover art), then turn the finished work over to a printing source. This is a perfect opportunity for an author to control every aspect of the process. There’s also the alternative of finding a self-publishing company who offers different levels of service so you don’t have to worry about contracting the other stuff yourself. As long as the company chosen is reputable and known for superior quality in the final product, this sounds like feasible option.  

“I’ve the utmost respect for those courageous enough to take on the task. However, I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say I’m a coward and self-publishing for me is out of the question. I think it was Clint Eastwood in a Dirty Harry movie who said, ‘A man’s got to know his limitations.’ Well, I surely know my limitations. The process is just too scary. If I screwed it up, it would be far too costly, first because of the personal financial investment and second because I know relatively little about the inner workings of the industry. I buy books, read them, occasionally write them and that’s pretty much it…lol!  

“When I wrote my book, I never gave it a second thought. I probably could’ve gotten through the sub-contracting part by researching blogs and publishing sites until I found the best editors and illustrators. The real stopper was marketing and distribution, which in my mind is too critical to leave to chance. If you’ve been in the writing business all your life, odds are you’ve probably made some great connections along the way and know all the ins and outs. Or, if you’re a big name like Bill O’Reilly with lots of money behind you, all those little details don’t matter. Someone else can be hired to take care of them for you. However, for someone like me who hasn’t any connections or previous experience, this could mean the death of my book. I have run into a number of self-published authors who’re really struggling with these two areas, particularly distribution. I’m not saying it can’t or shouldn’t be done. I just think author’s considering this option need a solid plan on how to get their books into stores. There’s all sorts of things to consider like how to become an approved supplier and formulating return policies. I for one would rather worry about writing my next book and leave these things to a paid professional. 

“So, when all’s said and done, based on my lack of experience and needed connections, I think I made the right decision in waiting for a traditional publishing contract. I was extremely fortunate to be chosen by Lachesis Publishing and am grateful not to have to worry about things I know nothing about. 

“Vana Roth – A Nation of Expendables

“For more about me and A Nation of Expendables see: http://vanaroth.com

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8 Responses to “Self-Publish Or Not”

  1. DJ Ledford Says:

    Vana, this is a great article and I know exactly what you mean. I’ve had the same question posed to me a number of times, but I simply will not go the self-publish route. Unless the writer has a built in “platform” to rely on they could do hours/weeks/months on marketing and still see very few sales. Although the days of legitimate publishing houses that take care of their writers are over–and we must do whatever we can to promote our work–there’s added legitimacy when the novel is actually printed, bound and offered by a recognizable publishing house.

    Thank you so much for offering your insights. I look forward to acquiring your novel.

  2. Suzanne Francis Says:

    I thought about self-publishing after my sixth rejection letter, but was talked out of it by a friend. I know several people who have done every well by publishing their own work. If you are writing non-fiction, and you have a specific target audience, it can be possible to market your work successfully. But for fiction it is a tough row, because there are so many books out there.

  3. Marcela curran Says:

    Hi Vana, that is a great article! There are some really interesting points. I’ve learned about self-publishing a bit myself as well. I am currently working with AuthorHouse at the moment and have learned more about the whole process. It is definitely a good option for some and feel that it’s a great option to consider. It can be tough sometimes in trying to get your book published and it can be easier to do it yourself. Thanks again for the interest article :)

  4. Vana Roth Says:

    I’m happy for anyone who’s successful in marketing their work, self-published or otherwise. It takes a lot of time and dedication to do it well.

    I whole heartily agree, those who write in non-fiction categories have much better chances of getting their work to intended audiences since subjects are generally information specific. The nature of the subject narrows the field of who to focus marketing efforts. As an example, if the titled work is “Get to the Million Dollar Club in Three Months – By the World’s Leader in Insurance Sales”, marketing could be focused on that particular industry and/or to insurance companies as an employee tutorial.

    Anyone writing in fiction is competing for attention against thousands of titles in a number of different genres. The types of books I read are all over the map. I don’t stick to any one particular type of book. How do you capture the interest of readers not 100% loyal to a particular genre and aren’t familiar with titles not produced by recognizable publishers?

    D. J. Ledford mentions the problem of establishments who only accept titles from recognizable publishers. I knew nothing about this fact until after and it was explained to me by my publisher and the publicist. I just thought companies bought books, what does it matter where the title comes from, but apparently a number of establishments have strict policies against buying self-published books. This is a shame since there are a number of self-published authors who in my opinion are very good.

    This is in no way meant to be as a statement against self-publishing. I know it can be done and there are authors who have done well by it. To me primarily due to health issues, it was just to tough and a route I just personally decided against taking.

    I wish good luck to all in their pursuit for publication. Whatever you do, don’t give up!

  5. Henry Says:

    Hi,
    I’ve been combing the web looking for insights. This was a great article. Still scratching my head alot about whether or not to go forward with selfpublishing, I did take a look at the who is charlie keeper? website and found parts of the author’s FAQs interesting particularly the reasoning for not taking an agent that’ll take 15% and to go ahead and bite the bullet of s/publishing.
    http://www.whoischarliekeeper.com/FAQ%20Who%20is%20Charlie%20Keeper.html

    If anyone would have any suitable comments on typesetting that would be a huge help :)

    Cheerio!

  6. Pat Bertram Says:

    Henry, one thing to keep in mind: self-publishing is not an easy way to go. You get to keep the money you make and not share it with an agent, but you have to spend a huge amount of time promoting. It basically comes down to what you want from writing/publishing. I know several people who have self-published, and who are pleased with the results.

  7. Henry Says:

    Hi Pat,
    Thanks for the kind words. I guess you’re right that the promoting would be the bigger part of self publishing and perhaps also the most daunting! Do you have any pointers, tips or know of any good sites to help get my entrepreneurial juices flowing?
    Henry :)

  8. Pat Bertram Says:

    Henry, You can find pointers, tips, and lists of sites at my Book Marketing Floozy blog. http://marketingfloozy.wordpress.com

    It is an indexed reference blog with over forty articles about how to promote. And you are right, promoting is the most daunting part of being published, whether self-published or traditionally published.


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