I think I have to start off with a disclaimer here: I don’t know much about self-publishing and my attitude toward that particular market has been ambivalent at best. I’ve read very few self-published books, and even less that I thought were good, BUT, there has been a lot of change in the publishing market in the past decade and self-publishing is an exploding market. It’s gotten my attention and I’m curious to see how it will evolve over the next decade.

One of the biggest things I see changing these days is with the small publishers and niche markets, publishers who publish books for perhaps a more selective and unique audience. Those publishing houses are dropping like flies, unable to keep up with the quickly changing tides of publishing and book sales. And make no mistake, the big publishers are feeling the squeeze too. They’re scaling back in lots of areas, including the amount of books they publish. Not every well written and worthwhile manuscript that passes their eyes will get published. That’s just a fact.

Maybe you’ve gotten great feedback from editors or agents but the response, for whatever reason, still remains a no. Does that mean your book has no merit? Does it mean your book isn’t good enough or that no one would enjoy it? I don’t think so. Just because someone wasn’t willing to bet money on it, doesn’t mean it isn’t actually worth money and more.

Enter self-publishing.

Sometimes self-publishing can give a book and an author the chance no one else would give them. Look at Richard Paul Evans, Amanda Hocking, Julia Cameron and many more who started out self-publishing and went on to great success. Self-publishing is the ultimate way of taking your writing career in you own hands.

BUT, before you jump on the self-publishing wagon, I suggest you take some time to consider what it all entails. Self-publishing is a lot of work. You are the writer, editor, designer, printer, and publiscist. You do it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you. Either way, it’s all on you. Some might think of this as a good thing. Total Control! But while it might seem nice that you don’t have to worry about hating your cover or disagreeing with your editor over why a certain section needs to be taken out, you can exhaust yourself with the details. It takes a crazy amount of confidence, courage, energy, and time to self-publish if you want to do it well; all things I’m not certain that I would have enough of to embark on the self-publishing path.

But if you believe in yourself and your work, if you’re willing to put in the time and energy, then I say CARPE DIEM! Live your dreams and don’t let anybody hold you back.

I’m so pleased that I know someone who does have the courage and energy and talent to self-publish. Ali Cross has decided to self-publish her book BECOME, a YA urban fantasy. I met Ali at the WIFYR conference two years ago and not only did I love her, but I loved her writing. She is talented. She is skilled. She has big, amazing ideas. I am proud of her for taking this step in her writing journey and I’m honored that I will be reviewing her book here on my blog next month. Ali will also be doing a guest blog post at the end of this month. Stay tuned for her greatness!

Self-publishing is growing like crazy. There are those who are going to rise to the top, no matter the obstacles and we are seeing some great talent come out of the self-published market.

What do you think? Do you read self-published books? Would you consider self-publication?


    • Ru

    • October 4, 2011

    • 2:26 pm

    I think that over time, self-publishing will lost a lot of its stigma. Yes, there will always be poorly produced self-published books, but I think that eventually cream will rise to the top, especially given that you can sample a few pages of most e-books before purchase. I agree though — it’s not for everyone. Some people aren’t willing to make the writer/publisher/editor/marketer role, and with self-publishing, you kind of have to swing for the fences to make the effort worth it.

  1. I’ve looked into self-publishing, and honestly it scares the crap out of me. I think maybe one day after I’ve really studied about it thoroughly, I may find that courage it takes to self publish, but as for right now…I’m just fine spending all my time as a writer, and let those a lot smarter and braver than me do the publishing, editing, and marketing.

  2. I had a friend who compared it to starting her own small business, and I think that’s a great comparison. It can take an insane amount of effort but can also be incredibly rewarding. I’m personally on the fence at this point. I think there are advantages either way. At this point my plan is to do a lot more research and make my book the best it can possibly be.

  3. Here’s my feeling on self-published books. I say this because they last few I’ve read I thought – yeah, I can see why this wasn’t taken by an agent or a publisher.

    My good friend Stephanie Campbell published a FABULOUS book – she had agent interest. “A TON of this is really, really, great, but . . . we’re just not positive on it.” When she self-pubbed, she had to call a few agents and tell them to not read her MS because she was going to self-pub. Her book should have been done by Harperteen, and I still hope that it someday gains the popularity it should have.

    The other time I think it works is when you get the same answer from multiple publishers saying that – yes, the writing’s good, the story’s good, but maybe not good enough. This simply means they feel like they’re going to have a hard time creating an interesting hook to sell your book.

    Both of those ideas make me sound like a snob maybe, so now I’ll back down.

    If all you want is for your book to be out there? Self-pub away. The problem is that it makes it even more difficult for the really good self-published books to be heard of and/or found in the slushpile.

    And that’s my random two cents on that 😀

  4. And I still sound like a snob.

    I can see myself self-publishing books down the line. Novellas. Books I’m not willing to change.

    I went with a really small publisher after getting feedback like – fab writing, great story, not enough commercial appeal, but we’d love to see more from this author. When I knew what they wanted me to change, and knew I wouldn’t change it – I decided to go smaller rather than re-work and go bigger. If I hadn’t been able to find a small publisher, I MAY have taken another look, but still probably wouldn’t have changed anything.

    • Karena

    • October 6, 2011

    • 6:47 pm

    I think anyone needs to take care when considering self-publishing. Traditional publishing means that someone was willing to bet on its success. When self-publishing, you alone are taking that gamble. I think that it’s always best to try traditional publishing first, understand the feedback, and then evaluate whether self-publishing will bring you the success you desire.

  5. Wow, Liesl. Thank you. I came on over, totally next expecting to see a shoutout.

    I hope I’ve self-published for the right reasons. I had lots of agent interest, had an agent offer (but she turned out to be a flake and is now out of the business), had a small publisher (who also went out of business), and then several revisions for agents, etc., all to end up with NO.

    I *think* the reason is because perhaps my book is a niche book, midlist at best, and so …. who would they sell it to?

    My biggest concern with self-publishing is the lack of vetting a self-published book gets. I need to make sure I surround myself with completely vicious readers, lol. People who will tell me (and help me) fix what needs fixing. Agents and editors do that for you. And that’s what I miss.

    *fingers crossed* I got it right!

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