Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Self Publish or traditional publisher?

If you're wondering where I've been since the last time I posted, this is the question I have been pondering over for months.  (Not that I've been gone for months, but you get the point)  At what point do you decide that you want a traditional publisher or to self-publish?  At what point can you make a decision that is going to have such an impact on your book, your baby, the "child" you've spent years "raising?"
Don't worry, you're not alone.

As you may or may not know, I've recently been debating on whether to self-publish or not.  First, though, let's start with a little back story.  When I wrote my first book, The Magic of Light, I avoided self publishing like the plague.  I couldn't afford to pay the expenses most companies require to even have the book in print, and neither could my family.  I always thought of it as a dead end; self publishing being the last road you would ever want to take, and once you did it you wouldn't ever be able to undo what you had done.
Back then, though, I didn't know what I know today.  I believe a lot of writers don't know this, but self publishing isn't a demon.  If you publish your own book that doesn't mean you'll be looked down on, you're not good enough to be published by a main stream publisher, and your books will never sell.  Look at Christopher Paolini.  Eragon is a worldwide seller, and that's only the first book alone; if you look at his entire series it's amazing to see how far he has come since self publishing Eragon.  A publisher recognized his talent, and who's to say that can't happen to the rest of us?
There's also Createspace, which is run by  I joined about a year ago when I first entered into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, but since then I've been researching self publishing with Amazon.
Now I know it's not all perfect, but don't worry I've got my pros and cons ready.  (I'll mark those that only apply to Createspace with a *)

  • *No set up fees: You don't have to put forth any money to start selling your book online.  Of course if you want it sold at Barnes & Noble, libraries, and etc. you do have to pay a fee of $25, but then again it's a little price to pay when everything else is free of charge.
  • Full Control: Unlike with a traditional publisher, you have control over what happens with every step of the process.  Fancy fonts, cover design, page numbers, set up of pages... Everything is in your hands.
  • *Easy and simple program to prepare your book: You can view how the pages of your book are going to look before you actually finalize it and have it publisher for the world to see.  If there's mistakes, you can fix them.  If you see something you don't like, fix it.  I don't know if this applies with any other companies, but I have looked at the program on Createspace and it's very hands on and easy for anyone to use.
  • Paper-back books: No matter who you are, almost every writer wants to be able to hold their book in their hands.  This way you can.
  • Online distribution: Whether you choose to sell your books outside of Amazon or not, you're allowed to sell your book online.  These days technology rules, so you have to think what's going to work best.  You can link your book, promote it on your blog --I'm sure you've already seen it before.  It's easy enough to share with your friends a link to Amazon or Barnes & Noble when it's online available to buy.
  • Higher royalty: You might already be aware of this, but in case you're not with self publishing you'll make a higher royalty than you ever would with a traditional publisher.  Say you sell your book for $7.99 online.  You would make $2.34 for every copy that sells.  Are you ever going to make that much for each copy with a traditional publisher?  Likes are, you probably won't.  (Not that you can't make a living by being published by a publisher.  Remember Steven King anyone, haha?)
  • Unlimited Distribution: Your book is not only sold at Amazon, but it can also be sold at Barnes & Noble, libraries, and other book stores.  (Mind you there is a $25 charge if you want it sold outside of Amazon)  It can also be published for the Kindle (though this is a $69 charge).

  • Chance of interesting a publisher: While it isn't likely for everyone that self publishes, it happened for Brittany Geragotelis (author of Life's a Witch), Christopher Paolini (as I already mentioned), and many others.  Brittany's book was actually on Wattpad before she published it, and she's now been offered three book contracts and is selling the rights for it to be made into a TV show.  It doesn't always happen, but it can if your book grabs the attention of a reader. 

  • Your name finally out there: Your name will finally be out there in the publishing world.  I recently just read an article where 10 editors were asked at a conference if they would have published J.D. Salinger had he been a new author when they came to him.  All ten said no.  It's scary, yes, but once your name is known publishers, editors, and agents are more likely to gave you a chance.
  • Failure: We all wonder it... What if my book isn't good enough?  What if the sales aren't impressive?  What if no one buys it?
  • Time: Self publishing takes a lot of your own time, and if you're one of the many writers who already have a full time job this might not be the right choice for you.
  • *Fees for your own copy: I don't know where else this applies, but if you want copies of your book from Createspace you do have to buy it at the price online.
  • Negative reviews: Unfortunately I've seen this before.  Books that are self published sometimes aren't fully edited or the professional look is missing simply because the writer didn't have enough time to work all of those details out.  Keep in mind, readers aren't going to know your story or where you're coming from.  They might not understand why you self published or the fact that you've spent weeks, months, years --however long--working on your book.  If you're going to be self published, be ready.  (Note: Negative reviews are always expected, no matter what choice you make.  Even traditionally published book receive poor reviews.  Steven King has been criticized that his books have "no plot" and focus on "gore and blood."  Even new authors like Leigh Fallon have received negative feedback on their book.  We'll all have to face it at some point or another)
Whew!  There's a lot of factors to look at, and I'm sure I missed several.  Hopefully, though, I went over the main ones.  I'm not writing about this to scare you or convince you there's only "one way" to publish your book.  Actually what I want to point out is that traditional publishing is not the only way you can publish your book, and when I learned that myself I was relieved.  How long have we been hearing this is the "only" way to go?  Do what feels right.  
If you're published, share your story with us :)  I hope was able to help someone out there, and if you haven't made up your mind yet don't worry.  I'm actually still debating about it, and most likely will for a good while.

Lindsey R. Sablowski 
Now read Cursed with Power online:
Destiny may find them, but will it be enough?  Join Celestria and Alaire in the struggle for survival at:

Be there for the magic:


AbbyJoy said...

I just had a comment on one of the cons...I've researched CreateSpace as well and from my understanding when you buy copies of your own title you only have to pay what it costs to make them, plus shipping and handling. (i.e. one 6x9 black and white interior with 300 pages would cost $4.45 plus shipping) Plus you can get proof copies for the same price.

Just thought I'd stick that out there :-)

Lindsey Sablowski said...

Hi Abby,
Yes you're absolutely correct. Sorry I hadn't cleared that up! The price is rather cheap :)


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