Self Publish or Use a Publisher?
The world of publishing is rapidly (whiplash, head-spinning) changing and many of the old guards are working hard to convince you of the last words of any dying organization: “We have always done it that way.” Publishing is no different. Change is hard.
IN 2009 or so, folks were just starting to discover the newest POD (print on demand) services that could free them from a vanity press. Vanity press is “publish everything with no vetting or editing, as long as you have the money.” These companies should be avoided. In the early days of POD or Ebooks, there were very few diamonds in the slop of publishing anything and everything, especially as the Internet Marketing crowd got their greasy fingers in the process. This phase of really rough times still makes people shy away from all works that are self-published.
Books should be judged on the quality of the work, not the method in which they were published. Times are changing and the ability for you to take a book directly to market can be very freeing. Self-publishing is a legitimate way to release a book.
Self-publishing is hard to do well, expensive, and time-consuming. Are you ready, as a self-published author, to create a high-end, edited, researched book? Do you know which model of printing you will do, ranging from offset to POD? Do you have a thick skin so that your real friends can honestly tell you if your books are actually good or awful? Will you hire a coach that can help you with deep, honest, and maybe-hard-to-hear advice and feedback? Are you prepared to spend the money (yes, it’s expensive) to do it correctly or are you just going to print anything and wait for the offer of the movie rights to come sailing in? “Ain’t gonna happen.”
Write because you want to write. It’s fun and rewarding. Publish because you feel that is right for you.
Modern publishers will not penalize your future works for having a self-published book in your corral . . . unless you created a horrendous book that you let your ego (instead of your brains) publish. A platform is everything; we’ve all seen about fifty different shades of how an author’s platform can rule reality.
Now if you want to make money at it, the next question must be “how will I market this book?” Agent or not, most old-school, traditional publishers are more concerned about the size of a new author’s platform before they are even thinking about the content of the book. This is a dark secret that the old-guard doesn’t want you to know about. “Platform” is why celebrities are now suddenly published authors, putting the power of their celebrity-driven platform behind good-enough, ghost-written books.
As authors, we urge you to write and get your words out to the world. As a publisher, we invite you to be deeply honest about what your self-published work will be. As well, every book you write will take you through this same process of reflection.
Enjoy the process. We mean that sincerely.