Self-Publishing; Instant Gratification or a Whole Lot of Work?

On my lunch hour today I invested some time in researching publishers, agents, and all the intricacies of self-publishing.  It was dang exhausting and I’m nowhere near done.  The whole process of landing an agent and then making it to one of the Big Five publishers seems a bit like winning the lottery.  The small press seems to have the same process, but better odds.  Either way it means possibly years between writing the thing and getting it to your readers.

From a bird’s eye-view self publishing looks to be the most immediate way to reach readers, but consequently the most work since you are doing it all yourself.  There’s no company, large or small supporting your effort.  For me, the most challenging aspect of being an indie author is self-promotion, i.e. marketing your book.

Marketing oneself or one’s work requires a degree of chutzpa that I just don’t have.  I was raised to be modest, humble, quiet… well quiet never took, but the rest did.  It’s in the very fiber of my being.  I wonder if I will need to rewrite my DNA to make this book series a success.

One article I came across today was a big help.  It’s an interview the Book Doctors did with Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, the world’s largest distributor of indie books.  Although over a year old, there’s some remarkably practical and pertinent advice here.  Many of the other articles I’ve read advised things like ‘work hard’ ‘believe in yourself’ and ‘you are your own worst critic’.  Not only are these platitudes worthy of appearing on a picture of a kitten hanging from a branch, but that last one is dead wrong.  My husband is my toughest critic.  He’s mean with the red pen and not afraid to tell me when some scene I’ve written bites (and not in the good way).

There’s also this validation-seeking beastie lurking in my psyche –  a ghost of me as a young adult – who desperately wants to be told she’s worthy, special, talented.  That ghost likes the idea of being published at one of the Big Five very much.  I’m not sure she’s going to let me go indie.  Although calling it indie soothes the beast of self-importance a wee bit.  It sounds better than self-published.  In college we laughed at self-published authors and assumed they were nut-jobs.  Then a friend of mine graduated and started a tiny, local, literary magazine that I helped him edit and we were dang proud of our indie status.  Perspective, I suppose.

So did I come to any conclusions today?  Yes and no.  My book is out to several readers and I now realize that I’ve edited it as much as I can.  A pro (the husband) needs to do the hopefully final edit.  if I do go the self-publish route I am going to hire a pro to do the cover.  This piece of advice was probably one of the best. I know as a reader  the cover is a big part of the reason I choose a book.

Definitely check out the interview if you are considering self-publishing.  Here’s the link again.

The Book Doctors with Smashwords Mark Coker on e-Books, Good Writing & Bad Mistakes

Sound off in the comments if you have gone the indie route or if you’re considering it.  What is your advice?  What’s your biggest fear?


4 thoughts on “Self-Publishing; Instant Gratification or a Whole Lot of Work?

  1. samulraney says:

    I went indie in 2011. Don’t let anyone fool you. It’s a bit of work. But, I have the gratification of knowing that there are quite a few people out there who’ve read my work. I also have complete control over EVERYTHING (which can be both good and bad).

    I’m not a huge fan of self promotion either. So, I’ve found the best thing to do is be helpful. I blog, I tweet interesting articles, I share advice at a local writers’ group. Yes, I still send out the occasional tweet about my books, but it’s pretty infrequent. Paid promotions are still the best marketing tools.

    While self publishing isn’t for everyone, it’s becoming more and more legitimate. If you take the right course and apply everything you can that you might expect from a traditional publisher (editing, artwork, formatting), you’ll find readers don’t care who published the book, so long as it seems professionally crafted (and has a good story).

    Write on! 🙂

  2. Everyrosehasathorn says:

    I agree self-publishing is amazingly hard. You have to put your heart and soul into the book, but that also makes it more difficult to leave it be. I think if you had a publisher doing all the leg work for you, you would just loose interest in the whole process.

  3. Mishka Jenkins says:

    Self-publishing is hard, hard work, but I have to say, the reward of doing everything yourself and knowing it was your own hard work and perseverance that made it happen is an amazing feeling 🙂

  4. tracycembor says:

    Doing your own research is important, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

    I recommend reading the blogs of Barry Eisler, Joe Konrath, and Hugh Howey for starters. They are all highly successful authors who are self-publishing. In fact, two of them wrote a book together about it that you can download for free:

    I would also recommend my friend Chris McMullen’s blog as a great place for the nuts and bolts of self-publishing.

    Best wishes and good luck!

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