Thursday, March 7, 2013

To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish, That is the question - by Terry Burns

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune . . .”

“Ah, enough of that. I’ve been following discussions on self-publishing across author groups and online forums. It is a hot topic.

“My opinion on it hasn’t changed. I have no problem with self-publishing if the decision to do it is made in the right way. I do believe it is a bad idea for an author to go into it simply as a knee-jerk reaction to rejected submissions from traditional presses.

“Those negative responses may well mean that the book is not ready to publish and the last thing we need is more books thrown out there without the quality that we would like to see in the marketplace. The decision to self-publish should not be an emotional decision but rather a business decision based on solid facts.

“Authors need to consider what they are giving up by self-publishing and what they gain by doing so. They need to know what skills they need to self-publish and what they have to do to be successful. They may realize it is to their benefit to stay the course, get the help they need, and keep working until they can hook up with a publisher. Possibly they should lower their sights a little to go with a small house or indy publisher.

“The first question an author needs to ask, whether he or she goes for traditional or self-publishing: Is my book really ready to be out there? Sometimes we don’t want to hear the answer we need to hear.

“But let’s assume the answer is yes. It's a good book, well written and well edited, but it just isn’t finding a publisher. That makes it a candidate for self-publishing, but is it a good idea? More information is needed to make that decision.

“Just throwing the book up on Amazon, sitting back, and reaping the proceeds seldom happens. The author needs to do more work, like giving it a good cover. Covers play a major role in buying decisions, so a cheap or an unattractive cover can kill the chances of a book being successful. Then the author must market the book and do successful promotion. And don’t forget about the necessary distribution channels for getting the book into bookstores.

“Authors can be successful self-publishers, some even earn far more than had they gone with a major publisher. But for every one that succeeds, hundreds of others end up selling only a few books to friends and relatives. It isn’t the quality of the book that determines which side of the fence the project comes down on. A wonderful book with a poor cover and weak marketing, promotion, and distribution simply is not going to garner sales.

“So the question is not “Do I want to self-publish?” Rather, it is “What is involved in my acting as my own publisher, and do I have the right skills, or can I acquire the skills that I need to be successful?”

Oh, yes, and Happy St Patrick's Day day from an Irishman whose grandmother's name was Lizzie O'Green (they dropped the O on the boat on the way over from Ireland.)


Jeanette Levellie said...

Thanks for a thorough comparison, Terry. I've known successful self-published authors, and those who only sell a few copies of their self-published books. In the case of the former, the author worked very hard, hiring and editor and gathering beta readers, then promoted 'til the Leprecauns came home!

P.S. My grandmother was a Kelly.

Jeanette Levellie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry Burns said...

Yes, sorry gang, this post was supposed to post next week (closer to St Paddy's day) but I hit the wrong button. It happens