Three Reasons You Should/Should Not Self-Pub
Publishing must not be dead because everyone wants to play with it.
Tens of thousands jump on the self-publishing bandwagon. Why shouldn’t you? Or maybe the question is why should you? There are roughly between 600,000 to 1,000,000 books published each year in the United States. These include books from the big five all the way through self-publishing and down to the vanity presses.
That is a lot of books and the only possible way for your story to stand out is to make it full of wonder and unicorns and maybe chocolate. In other words, it must be as awesome as possible. There are perfectly good reasons to self-publish, and then there are stupid ones.
The Reasons You Should Not Self-Publish
1. This is your first book.
Finishing a manuscript is a rush that is hard to explain to anyone who is not a writer. The moment you type The End is in my humble opinion, the equivalent of standing on top of the world. You feel like you can do anything. No one can stop you. Unfortunately, this miracle that is your first story is full of plot holes. The moon’s craters have nothing on your very first manuscript. There is a reason that traditional publishing has editors—to point out where authors suck. The very best thing you can do is to save your first manuscript and begin another.
I can see you over there with your fingers in your ears. Start another story. Do not write the second book in what you hope to be a bestselling series. Begin something completely different. After you finish the second book, go back and read your first because the one you just finished will be light years ahead of it. As you learn and grow as a writer, each story will be better. I promise you on everything that anyone thinks are holy that in ten years you will not want that first book anywhere where people can read it. Swear to God.
2. Agents aren’t interested.
Is it your first book? (See reason one.) My next question would be to ask you how many agents you have queried. Three is not enough. Ninety may be too many. If you have not had any full requests on this story, and many agents have read a partial manuscript, put it under the bed and write another. Agents know good writing. You aren’t there yet. Don’t lose hope. Like your second story that is exponentially better, your third should improve at the same rate.
3. I am afraid of literary agents.
You are totally adorable. No seriously, you are. Also you need to put on your big kid pants and go to a writer’s conference and meet a few agents because they are people just like you. I have seen with my own eyes that agents eat food and use the restroom and get blisters on their feet. They are absolutely not pod people or made of bionic material. As a matter of fact, I can guarantee that they are more patient and nicer than I could ever hope to be. (I would read four or five bad queries and delete the entire inbox.) Agents believe in miracles. Every single time they open their email they have the hope of finding wonder.
The Reasons You Should Self-Publish
1. You absolutely cannot wait.
Maybe you have written a non-fiction and it is a hot item that is only viable or news worthy for a limited amount of time and it needs to be available yesterday. Publishing is the only business I can think of that still runs on basically the same timetable as it did 100 years ago. If you have this and a platform that says you are an expert on this matter or that you have inside information—go for it.
So, if you know secrets about the presidential candidates, or have the inside track on the reporters who have been beheaded or have only just escaped ISIS captivity, by all means publish away. There is a time limit on interest in some subjects. Grab the brass ring while you can and I hope you make a million dollars.
2. No one can tell you what to do.
Some writers don’t want to be told to change their story. I get that. All people are not team players. I understand how the fascination of existence without rules, bosses, and deadlines can whisper in your ears and promise rainbows and ponies. Some people want to keep every single word they write as is. Those people are much braver and have more self-confidence than I ever would. They have a drive to learn all of the business sides of publishing that are outside of my own personal sphere of interest. If you must feel in control then you need to self-publish.
If you honestly do not want to be told to change your story, or to wait for long periods of time for agents and editors to respond then traditional publishing is not for you. This doesn’t make you a bad person. Bashing other people and their choices does make you a bad guy. If you decide to self-publish, then be proud of your decision and your work. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone but yourself. But don’t burn your bridges by then playing smack-down with traditional authors. You might want to try it someday.
3. You are writing for a niche market.
This can mean a lot of things. Maybe you’ve traditionally published a series and want to continue after your house drops your contract. Some authors have a huge backlist of no longer in print titles and once the rights revert back, they publish those again as E-books and POD. (Print on Demand)
Maybe you want to write vampire books, dystopian, or some other genre that has flooded the market in recent years. If writing these makes you happy, then write for you. There is room for every genre somewhere. It is even possible that there is a niche market for talking pony erotica. I have no idea. As long as you have built a platform and an audience—self-publish. Why the heck not?
P.S. If you write talking pony erotica please oh please do not tell me.
Written by Julie Butcher
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