If you’re a first time novelist and you think your novel is ready for public consumption, you’re probably haunting author discussion groups looking for advise on whether to self-publish or not.
While any analysis can’t cover all circumstances, I hope this broad overview will help you begin to ask the right questions.
There are clear benefits to being published by a for-profit publishing house. These include
The disadvantages of Traditional Publishing are:
The advantages of Self-Publishing include:
The disadvantages of Self-Publishing are:
Are things really that bad for self-publishing?
Maybe you’ve heard about self-publishing success stories and think it could happen to you. There are two types of self-published books that have sold well in the past–-erotica and books on how to self-publish. EVERYTHING ELSE requires perseverance, luck, and a moderately deep pocket because you’re likely to loose money for years and have to self-publish several books before you’ll be able to build up a reader base sufficient to break even.
But if you still want to self-publish, take these words of advice:
Coda: Why then did I self-publish all of my five novels?
Good question! In 2010 when working on my first novel––The Expendable Man––I knew that it was not publishable by a traditional publisher. I thought the plot met the test, but I didn’t think how I told my story was on par with published writers.
I continued to self-publish novels two through four (Making the Grade in 2012, and Last Stop on Desolation Ridge and In the Game both in 2013) as experiments in story telling. I believe a careful reading of each would show a progression in my writing ability.
I self-published House Divided this year for a different reason. I felt my writing was now good enough, but I was worried the story would become dated if I tried to go the traditional route. Events of the summer of 2014 threatened to undermine a key premise of the story.
I’m now at work on novel number six. When it’s ready I’ll be looking for an agent, but if I am unable to find one, I will come back to self-publishing, not by preference, but as a last resort.