Sunday, June 10, 2012

Self-Publishing Debate Rages On

I’ve come across a number of blogs and articles about the pros and cons of self-publishing lately. If you’re considering self-publishing, I’m not sure if all the opinions are making things clearer or muddying the waters. But here are a couple of articles that seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. The first is rather cautionary and focuses on six aspects that self-publishers tend not to talk about when advocating self-publishing. It’s somewhat revealing that the blogger posted an old sepia photo of a snake oil ad at the top of the blog. Here’s the points he’s made:

  1. Stimulating sales is hard
  2. Many self-published authors earn less than $500 a year
  3. The biggest contributing factor to sales is luck
  4. Designing a cover and editing is not easy
  5. Kiss movie and foreign rights goodbye
  6. Advocates aren’t selling a new paradigm, they’re selling themselves.
 He’s not wrong on most points, but I will say that on the forums I visit, authors are very open about the difficulty of selling and the question of luck. Many are also vocal about the importance of having professionals design covers and edit books. Furthermore, I know of several authors who’ve signed movie and foreign rights deals, although they are in a minority. Still, self-publishing is hardly the kiss of death. You can read the whole piece at

The flipside to the pro and con debate is a piece by bestselling author Robert Bidinotto, who writes ten reasons why you should self-publish rather than traditionally publish. He has a picture of a Kindle reader at the top of his blog. I’ve condensed his points here:

  1. Nobody can stop you from publishing your book
  2. You’ll make a lot more money and be paid faster
  3. You’ll publish incredibly fast, or at your own pace
  4. You’ll have complete creative freedom
  5. You’ll finally find an audience
  6. Finally, you’ll be on the right side of history

Again, Bidinotto isn’t wrong on most points, however, whether a self-publisher will find an audience and make a lot more money is really dependent so many uncontrollable factors. These kinds of bold statements can confuse or even mislead newbie authors. To get a truer picture of successes and failures, visit the forums where writers share their stats, and highs and lows. Kindleboards is one of the best, particularly if you go to the Writers’ Cafe thread. forums will also provide some interesting insights. Good luck!


Nissa Annakindt said...

I think much depends on what type of book you have written. If it's a romance just like hundreds of others published by mainstream publishers, it's hard to compete.

But if it's something relatively unique--- a Moravian Christian romance, or a story about Amish in space--- that's something that might find an audience as a self-published work. Particularly among Moravians (for the first) or among Amish-fiction lovers who also like sci-fi (for the second).

So if you are considering self-publishing, think about what is unique about you, and about your ideas, and run with it.

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Nissa!