Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aspiring Authors: Is Self-Publishing Right for You?

I've read a number of articles in the past year that either praised or criticized the fast growing industry of self-publishing. I’m willing to bet that 99% of all authors hope and wish for a book deal with a major publisher, but an even higher percentage (99.99%?) won’t get that deal. In fact, they won’t even get an agent. The conundrum new authors face is that they can’t get a publisher’s attention without an agent and the agent won’t take them on unless they’ve been published.

Therefore they must publish on their own. I’ve written seven books over the past nine years and only tried to interest the industry folks with the first one. I saw a much faster and more rewarding future in being my own publisher and retaining all the creative control. It has worked for me, but I have a background of over three decades in education and my grammar editing has been honed by correcting hundreds of thousands of homework papers. (I’m not kidding; I can spot an errant apostrophe in a nanosecond.)

Self-publishing MAY be right for you because (1) it’s free or darn close to free and (2) it’s a first step. Check out Kindle, PubIt!, Smashwords, Createspace and others. Traditionally published authors and self-published authors inhabit the same online world, do book tours (real and virtual), have fan pages, websites, blogs and more. One may get a $5000 advance and the other may earn more than that over the life span of a book that never has to go out of print and pays monthly royalties directly to your bank account. Hmmm.

Self-publishing MAY NOT be right for you if your English skills are lacking. Because of the ease of self-publishing, thousands of unedited, poorly written and just plain horrible books are added to the list daily. These unpolished works give the whole category a bad reputation and make it tediously hard for a buyer to find that worthwhile read.

If you think traditional publishing is right for you, then that’s great and I wish you good luck; I still query a couple of agents once a year so I’m with you there. In the meantime, my books are being read and that it enormously satisfying.